One Last Kick at the Dead Horse
In the December 17th issue of the MediaDailyNews, Dave Smith of Mediasmith chose to once more take issue with my idea of using a currency other than the impression for online media. And, like everyone else who has taken an opposing view (except Tom Hespos, who, as I said before, may disagree with how I use the sextant, but agrees with where I think we should be sailing) Mr. Smith seized on the interpretation of my words rather than the meaning of them.
First, as I said before, I agree that (A)the impression is the most granular level at which an advertising event can be known and (B) that it is the most reasonable currency we've had to date. Though Mr. Smith interprets Mr. Hespos' position to be that the impression definition is the best we have, Mr. Hespos seems instead to be talking about currency, which is what I've been talking about. CURRENCY, not measurement, folks.
So, let me say it for the 100th time that the impression AS CURRENCY needs to be reevaluated.
Second, again what I say is different from what is taken away by Mr. Smith. I don't know why he talks about broadcast networks guaranteeing CPMs only against impressions. I don't recall anyone saying they did anything but. What I said is that when I reconcile my media purchase, it ain't against guaranteed impressions, it is against guaranteed rating points. Granted, all of these things can be translated into one another, but at the end of the day, the network isn't going out and counting impressions so that the advertiser can be billed based on that. One more time, it is RATING POINTS that are guaranteed for delivery and against which monies are reconciled.
Also, on this point, my interest is not to make online more like broadcast. Nowhere do I propose such a thing. I do, however, say that different web properties act and are engaged differently, and for some, a broadcast model might work better. The web is NOT broadcast, nor should comparisons be made too enthusiastically to broadcast. Would I like to see experimentation with the buying and selling of GRPs online? Absolutely. Do I think that the Web needs to be made like broadcast? Not in the least. What I do want is some brave and adventurous forays into translating metrics from online to offline so as to find an analogy that advertisers can understand. How many times do I have to say it? We can nerd out all day long, but until I can sell it to the guy who writes the checks, who cares?
Thirdly, I propose a print model as an alternative, not a substitution. I don't understand why there is so much difficulty in synthetic thinking. Thesis – antithesis – synthesis; the Hegelian dialectic. It can reveal a truth about two seemingly unrelated concepts when those concepts stand in contest with one another. What is so scary about trying out a new currency online that resembles print in so far as there is fixed positioning and, thus, he opportunity for unique audience measurement? Some web properties act more like print than others (how many times do I have to say it?). Mr. Smith makes the comment that I should spend more time being involved with committees rather than writing. Well, first I'd posit that these committees are working at glacial speed. If I joined one of them, I'd be as old as Elrond before they even put in writing that the industry will use the 302-redirect as the standard measure of an impression. I'd get an edict on the ordination of women through the Holy See of the Catholic Church faster. I'd suggest that the next time an online buy is going through his shop, Mr. Smith get closer to the buying and see if, indeed, all web sites are created equal. I merely suggest that they are not and should be approached as such. Salon.com is a much different kind of property than is run-of-network on DoubleClick.
Finally, I'd like to address Mr. Smith's comments about my belief that the fixed positioning concerns are a red herring.
They are, plain and simple. Mr. Smith says that Erwin Ephron HIMSELF has said that Web campaigns don't get enough reach. I agree, Web campaigns don't get enough reach. Though knowing that Gandalf is joining the company as the ring sets out is encouraging, it has nothing at all to do with what I mention as being the red herring of fixed positioning. I am very familiar with what Mr. Ephron thinks about Web media in so far as what he has published. I say that condemnations of fixed positioning based on the limits it places on other advertisers' quests for inventory is a red herring, because it is. Everyone doesn't get to be on the back page of Time Magazine or the first spot at the top of the pod during the first quarter of the Super Bowl. When I was a kid, my dad used to say to me when I didn't get what I wanted, "well, life ain't fair." So it goes.
But what about reach? Is that really a problem here?
No, because it doesn't directly affect any reach limitation unless more than one advertiser wants the same audience, which is then really an inventory limitation. Why is reach limitation not a real issue? Because if I was buying unique audience, I would be getting my reach! If I could buy unique audience rather than impressions, knowing and controlling for frequency dispersion among that audience, then there is no reach limitation.
No one wants to try to achieve their reach by only buying scatter schedules on a particular web site. I mean, isn't the wonder of this media that it can be so precise in its tracking, targeting, and data collection? So why is it not being used?
I'll say it just this one last time: if I can buy unique audience -- identifiable, quantitative unique audience -- why the heck am I going to let the cement harden around my feet on impressions? Doesn't sound very flexible to me…