Commentary

The Pains of Pioneering

By Jeff Minsky

One of the most frustrating things about being a pioneer is being a pioneer. I think back to what people must have thought about the first media planners to try to convince their bosses to recommend television as an advertising medium. The conversation within the agency must have gone something like this:

Media Planner: Hey boss, check this out. They are coming out with this box see, and you'll be able to watch the radio. It's really swell!

Media Director: (thinks to himself) Who is this idiot? (says out loud) What are you talking about? Pictures on a box? Who's going to want to sit in front of that thing? You have to stare at it??? Everyone loves Radio! No one even owns one of those things. There are only 7,000 working TV sets in the country and only nine stations on the air; three in NY, two each in Chicago and L.A., one in Philadelphia and one in Schenectady?? We can't even prove that this radio ad thing works. You want me to invest how much of my client's budget to reach what???? We make our money on producing radio spots, do you know the kind of investment we have to make to create television???

Media Planner: Boss, I really think we should move forward with this TV thing. It's starting to catch on.

Media Director: Listen, I know that there are a few more sets out there, but can you prove TV is any better than radio. Yeah, I know that some idiots have been paying for these commercial thing-a-ma-jigs, about 9,333 sponsors, which I do admit is a 515% jump over last year. But you still haven't proved to me that it works. Maybe we could do a cost per deal? You know, for every ad that runs that day, we'll track how many sales we have until the next ad runs. We'll give them a cut. Think that'll work??

Media Planner: GROAN

Media Planner (now promoted to Media Supervisor): C'mon already! We're the only agency left not doing anything on television. All the national clients are canceling their radio programs and flocking to TV. Even Variety has described the exodus as "the greatest exhibition of mass hysteria in biz annals."

Media Director: Ok. OK. We'll test!!!

(stats reported in AdAge's History of Television Advertising)

The point is obvious. Interactive media, like all other media before it, faces opposition partially based on valid due diligence of media professionals, but also in part due to bias brought about by mankind's distaste of changing things it is most comfortable doing. Without question media planners are "into" television and print. It is what they have been taught in Media Training seminars for 30 years. All the metrics that have been ingrained into them from the day that they start have to do with metrics that work for Branding or pure Direct Response, not a hybrid of both.

A year ago I was asked to sit on a panel during the final presentat

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