Profile: Alec Gerster

Jan 6, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Title: CEO, Initiative Media Worldwide

Recent interesting deal: “Renewal of our sponsorship of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s research to measure the wide disparity in viewer interaction with commercial communication.

While the industry focuses on audience ratings as a basic definition of value in media, we all know that there is increasingly more to this game than just whether eyeballs happen to be in the room when the television set is on.

We may have to settle for antique audience measurement techniques as today’s media currency, but that won’t stop us from creating real value in today’s fragmented environment by predicting how different people exposed to different programming in different environments interact with our clients’ messages.”

The next big thing: “Digital television. Most of the industry has embraced a broad level of digital technology in their operations. Still, after all the noise over the years about digital, the promises, the false starts, it has not really had that much consumer relevance. 2003 just may be the year that digital television with all its various forms and permutations creates meaningful impact on the television experience.

“Why? Digital is already a fact of life in the music and home video business. The heated competition between digital satellite and cable is building awareness of its end-user benefits.

TiVo capabilities are a part of the everyday television discourse even though penetration is low. Digital broadcasting is taking place as I write this. The price of HDTV receivers is coming down fast. Further, HD content already exists via selected and high-profile broadcast and cable offerings. It just might not take that long for sampling to really have a significant and needed impact on HDTV. No hard facts, no Forrester Research projections here, but a sense that something is happening out there with consumers and digital technology that will upset some conventional wisdom.”

Is there anything you wish you had bought less of: “Lousy audience research, but there is little choice today. Relying on a written diary in today’s environment? Please.”

Is there anything you wish you had bought more of: “Good talent. There is always room for more of the right people.”

If you weren’t in media buying: “Investment banking. They can’t be that much smarter than us and the money is ridiculous.”