Murtos Pushes Local Media to Stay Relevant

Sep 30, 2008  •  Post A Comment

If Steve Murtos had his way, local media owners would find more efficient ways to transact business and demand more robust measurement of the audiences they reach.
Since Mr. Murtos is VP and local activation director for Starcom USA, his advice probably is worth heeding.
Even in an election year, local media are having a tough time, but Mr. Murtos says some of his agency’s clients still see local as an important way to reach consumers.
Stations are going to have to make changes, however, if they want their fortunes to change.
“I think stations have an opportunity right now to demonstrate that they’re still relevant in today’s ever-changing world,” he said. “The media companies are finally starting to see that’s the reality and that they need to do something that’s radically different in order to remain relevant for advertisers.”
Buying local media can be done more efficiently, without eliminating jobs, he said. “There’s still a lot of back and forth between the seller and the buyer, and I don’t think it’s necessary.”
And while Starcom was one of the first agencies to buy local television based on live ratings from local People Meters, Mr. Murtos would like to see commercial ratings and other measurements that would put local on par with digital media and other forms of television.
“I don’t think they realize what a big deal it is to the advertisers and how being able to demonstrate accountability is so important in this marketplace,” he said.
Mr. Murtos said TV stations have a lot of content that is relevant to consumers that advertisers want to be closers to, much of it news and weather. Because TV stations’ content employs sight, sound and motion, it gives them a leg up on local newspapers and makes them attractive to sponsors.
Some stations are beginning to exploit their local content through mobile devices and over the Internet.
At Starcom, Mr. Murtos was part of a quality team that attempts to make sure the local activation group operates efficiently.
“It definitely created an opportunity for us to re-evaluate the way certain things were done, and we were able to identify areas where maybe there was some redundancy in the process and some inefficiency in the way a buy was handled or the way make-goods were captured or the way that buy summaries were reported back to the client,” he said.
Mr. Murtos was born in Chicago but his family moved up to Wisconsin, just outside Milwaukee, when he was young. As a kid he watched a lot of TV, and in high school he did a paper on the effectiveness of television commercials.
He took that interest in advertising with him to the University of Minnesota, where he studied advertising in the journalism school and was involved with the Ad Club, which when it wasn’t having parties would take road trips to Chicago to visit the big agencies there.
“Right off the bat, I just felt advertising was something I was really interested in,” Mr. Murtos said. “Most people say that they fell into advertising because they didn’t know what else to do. I sort of went into it knowing this was what I wanted to do.”
He decided to start his career in Chicago, where the weather is warmer, at least compared to Minneapolis.
His first job was at J. Walter Thompson and Mindshare. He then joined Experian, a direct marketing company, in its advanced advertising group, which did work in addressable advertising.
He then moved to Starcom.
Married with three children—girls 6 and 3 years old and a 1-year-old boy—Mr. Murtos said his spare time is devoted to kid activities.
“These days we’re lucky if we can get out for dinner,” he said.
He is something of a history buff, he said, and enjoys he biographies and documentaries. But he didn’t have time to watch all of HBO’s Emmy-winning “John Adams.”
These are also dark days for his golf game because he gets to play so rarely.
Who Knew: If he wasn’t in advertising, Mr. Murtos said, he’d love to be a travel writer. “You watch those shows and you think they’re being paid to travel around and write about it or make a TV show about it. I think that would be fantastic.” Tops on the list of places he’d like to go is India, which would be far from a local experience. India also boasts a fascinating culture and great food.


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