Under Fire: eBay Media Marketplace Slammed At ANA
While several agency executives, including PHD's Steve Grubbs and Zenith's Peggy Green, have taken high-profile positions in favor of it, one of Green's fellow buyers under the Publicis flag blasted what's known as the eBay Media Marketplace.
"To take us back to a pure commodity exchange is a waste of time," said Starcom CEO John Muszynski at the ANA TV forum Tuesday.
Critics of the system--which has support from a committee of both top agency executives and heavy-spending marketers--have charged that it commoditizes buying and selling and moves away from the traditional face-to-face, deal-making process--which has become more crucial in the age of complex, multi-platform deals. But advocates like PHD's Grubbs have said it's aimed at facilitating more run-of-the-mill buying, freeing up time for the multi-tiered deals.
(It's possible that agency executives' relationships with certain clients that favor the system have an influence over their positions.)
Muszynski's position about the potential for commoditization--he said his agency has fought hard to develop partnerships with the sales side and the eBay system could slow that momentum--was interesting, since it's an argument advanced mainly by network executives. ABC's President of Sales and Marketing Mike Shaw reiterated that stance Tuesday.
However, the buyers and sellers Tuesday did indicate that a system facilitating cumbersome back-room operations and helping trim costs there could be viable.
The committee backing the eBay system is seeking cable networks to engage in a test of selling inventory. It has provided them with a pilot version to review, hoping they will sign on. One of the sellers the committee is targeting is the Turner group, given its TNT and TBS outlets. Turner is still evaluating the proposed system, but its ad sales president David Levy said: "From what I've seen so far, this is not the answer."
Group M Chief Investment Officer Rino Scanzoni also said he was opposed to the system, on grounds that it doesn't allow for complex deals. David Grubb, Microsoft's global media director and a committee member, said recently there are no plans for the system to impede the "hand-crafted, high-touch level of negotiations" in the marketplace.