Ad industry seeks diversity?

I just returned from NYC to attend the first AAAA/AAF Supplier Diversity Trade Fair.

The Next Wave is a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business, with HUB (Historically Underutilized Business Zone) zone certification. If you are a big agency that’s doing work for the Government, those certifications are very important- it’s Federal law that 3% of your budget be allocated to working with SDVOB and there can be other requirements mandating HUB zone participation.

The Next Wave has been listed in CCR (the Federal data base for eligible contractors) for over 10 years. We have been called by exactly 6 different businesses over those years- either as a last minute effort to include us in a list of “possible subcontractors” in a bid (Leo Burnett for the Army recruiting contract- which went to McCann, and Burson Marsteller on an unnamed project) and a whole bunch of times by the diversity master of the moment at SBC/ATT. It seems that SBC/ATT has very high diversity goals- but very poor follow through.

The list of great ad agencies attending the event was impressive:
Arnold Worldwide
BBDO New York
Leo Burnett, USA
Campbell Ewald
DDB New York
Element 79 Partners LLC
Euro RSCG Worldwide, New York
Grey Worldwide
JWT New York
The Kaplan Thaler Group
Lowe Worldwide
Merkley Partners
McCann Erickson
Ogilvy & Mather
Publicis New York
Saatchi & Saatchi

and then there was us: The Next Wave.

Since ad agencies don’t typically like to admit to hiring either freelance creative, or another agency to do work for their clients- we took a different path to approach them in partnering for diversity goals: we only talked about helping them understand Web 2.0 and Search Engine Optimization, Direct Mail fulfillment (pimping for a local SDVOB who is also a member of with us) and video production- which we can do in-house, or partner with others to deliver product that qualifies for SDVOB participation points.

Our promo piece included the an analysis of how each of the above agencies compared in number of actual pages indexed by Google. The results were astonishing- of the 22 agencies in attendance, The Next Wave beat all but 4 for accessible, searchable content. Here is what we found:

The Next Wave's handout for AAAA/AAF diversity trade fair2 from
4 from
4 from
24 from
29 from
37 from
39 from
52 from
58 from
58 from
94 from
114 from
152 from
161 from
193 from
212 from
230 from
244 from
260 from
480 from
577 from
621 from
2,220 from

Note: Crispin Porter Bogusky, the agency that is known for their viral video and “web and new media expertise” only returns 1 page.

Presenting proof that 82% of the Agencies in attendance have interactive departments don’t understand Google isn’t always the best way of making friends, but most of the representatives there seemed genuinely interested and surprised by the results- and the implications for them.

If you work at one of these big agencies, or others, and want to learn how you need to build websites that have content (including your ads) that the general public can find- and interact with, we are available for consulting.

If you want to find out how to tell how many pages Google knows about in your domain do the following:

  1. Go to Google
  2. type: site:yourdomainname.tld in the search box
  3. it will return the numbers of pages it has indexed and what each page is about and it’s title (if your title says “untitled” or “home” and the “about text” is the same for more than one page- you need to call us ASAP).

We believe “Search Engine Marketing” is voodoo, however, we are sure that if your customers can’t find your content in google- you don’t exist for most of the market.

If you are looking for a way to meet your Federally required SDVOB participation for contracts- we can help you with the following NAICS Codes:
54143 Graphic Design
541810 Advertising agencies
541613 Marketing Consulting Services
541511 web development
518210 web hosting
512110 video production

Will this trade fair generate diversity in advertising? Probably not. But it was a step in the right direction.

Some suggestions for future trade fairs: Supply a database of vendor attendees and their services and qualifications to the Agency buyers- and include that information on the name badges. It would be a huge help.

The other suggestion: Hold it in a place that has a history of supporting diversity, instead of the NY Athletic Club- it seemed almost like blasphemy to be in a place that didn’t have African American Members until the 80’s and was so concerned with a dress code.