SYDNEY: The planning and creative functions need to be more closely aligned, according to a leading industry figure who has also questioned the value that major global communications groups bring to the table.

Speaking to AdNews, Martin Riley, marketing head of drinks business Pernod Ricard, said he was "uncomfortable" at the separation of planners and creatives within the industry.

"You need real media planning capability within the creative agency," he stated. "I think the whole media planning aspect is a strategic one and it needs to be pulled right back into the initial upfront discussion."

This is, he added, an issue that Pernod Ricard, whose brands include Absolut, Jameson, Chivas Regal and Jacobs Creek, is actively looking at.

Part of the problem, according to Riley, is that people "have got too concerned about the buying element, CPMs, efficiencies and all the other measures" and had consequently started to lose sight of the planning element.

But he also saw a move from "being very quantitative in our assessments" to a greater qualitative focus as brands became more precise in their targeting.

"They're much more specific about the kind of insight and understanding of how people consume different parts of media and how they connect to it," Riley said.

That understanding, however, does not preclude marketers from missing opportunities as they allowed a preoccupation with digital metrics to occasionally cloud their judgement.

"There's a real risk that because we feel we can measure it we feel more comfortable," said Riley, an approach which he described as "lazy" marketing.

"There's a logic telling you that if people are paying $6 or $8 for a magazine they're doing it because they find some value in it," he went on. "The way they are consuming media is probably different than if they're just scanning something online and I think that's something we've got to understand."

Riley also had views on the industry's structure – with extensive ad networks and global holding companies – which carry added weight in light of his other position as president of the World Federation of Advertisers.

"The big global groups – there are questions about what is the specific added value they bring by being so big when … people can do start-ups, people can actually begin businesses with relatively small amounts of money," he said.

Data sourced from AdNews; additional content by Warc News