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The days of optimization within siloed channels are long gone

Media pioneer Perianne Grignon on the subtleties of influence versus control and the elephant in the room: transparency.

Media optimization specialist Perianne Grignon helps Accenture clients as one of our 180 media management professionals around the world. She has worked in media at Nabisco, AT&T and Sears, spearheading the partnership with ABC’s “Extreme Makeover” at the latter.

An Ad Age Media Maven and Working Mother of the Year, she was part of the team that put the very first ad on the Internet (for AT&T) in October, 1994—of which she says: “New ideas turn me on.”

What do you see as the biggest topic in advertising and marketing right now?
In media, it’s transparency. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it or improve it. What media leaders can see and measure at a granular level—pricing, cost and delivery of their buys—not only varies in the United States and around the world, but also across media channels, media agencies and even within agencies depending on the stipulations in the client-agency contract. The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) formed an initiative to demystify and clarify the state of media transparency and develop practical solutions for marketers. This is an issue worth billions of dollars. The slow shift to opaqueness from the agency side is really cause for concern. Marketers should have full visibility into their spend.

In marketing, I’d say it’s the expansion of marketing across the company; the days of optimization within siloed channels are long gone. Data-driven, audience-centric marketing is now baked into technology, product design, operations, content and customer experience functions. Great marketers aren’t just personalizing customer experience across channels; they’re working with peers who aren’t necessarily marketers by title in all areas of the organization.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Helping clients is my whole universe. That’s what gets me out of bed in the morning. Leading them to be ready for challenges, to be ready for what’s coming next. By trade, I’m a media planner; it’s a second nature activity. I tend to think two years in the future at all times, so thinking about what is coming next comes naturally to me.

How do you view risk taking in the industry?
You have to judge it well and make sure you’re willing to take it, on a personal or a corporate level. But if you’re looking for big returns, that usually comes with a high element of risk. In 2009, the economy was in a downturn and instead of playing it safe, I doubled down on a new opportunity by entering the ad tech business. It was all new to me. My role was to market a tech platform that I had no knowledge of—but I learned. I spent four years in the tech space and it has helped me immensely—not just the knowledge I gained, but knowing I could begin again and learn something new.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
My husband and I are new empty nesters. In midlife, I’ve become a watercolor artist. My specialty is botanicals. I really enjoy the creative process. I like the combo of sheer creativity with the actual process of trying to control something that can’t be controlled. There are so many things that can impact watercolor—brush, humidity level—you can influence the paint, but you can’t control it. I just love it.