I was speaking with Don Antonio this morning.
He’s a media maven who’s an incredible resource to me both personally and professionally. We were chatting, as we do from time to time, about the state of affairs in digital media and the topic of pricing came up. One needn’t think very long about how buyers and sellers interact before the realization that there’s a horrible misalignment of goals out there. No, after 30+ years in the media business I’m not shocked that agencies want to buy things less expensively while sellers want to grow their revenues and maintain “rate card integrity.” But it feels different now – let me explain.
It’s always been about the client – the advertiser – and getting results. The problem now is that there’s no reasoning with a machine. Real time buying, trading desks, and other “innovations” just push down CPM’s (which is why a lot of premium sites won’t deal in this space). Meanwhile, a well thought out integrated promotion can’t get sold and activated because it doesn’t fit any models. Many newer buyers (and sellers) learn the tools but don’t understand the business.
Another thing. comScore in particular (they sell the software) and others in general are making a big thing about not counting digital ad exposures unless there’s proof the ad was in a visible part of the page. Nice idea – why pay for an ad that the user never saw even if it was displayed. The problem for me is this – no other medium is doing that. Oh sure – TV and radio can prove an ad ran – now let’s see the proof that even though the set was on someone was in the room and paying attention. Magazines do research this but I’m not sure it’s used in rate negotiation.
We’re racing to the bottom, as The Don put it. We use tools that drive down CPM’s and we impose delivery standards that make us work harder than any other medium to get paid. I know – complaining isn’t a pretty way to start the week, but what are we thinking? Your thoughts?