Let's Work Together Honestly

Day after day, there are comments or articles being written about multi-media packaging and cross-media platform selling by media companies. Most of this started with the behemoths such as Time-Warner, Viacom, Hearst and Disney but has now trickled down to many smaller traditional media organizations because their core products now have an online component which gives them another asset to sell or include as "added-value."

While more and more companies are leaning towards media integration I am increasingly frustrated by how it is being done. Most media sellers and their buyer counterparts have always been reluctant to change their respective business conduct as it has been traditionally applied. And, I've been talking with a lot of media companies and their sales reps which suggest a few disturbing signs that do not bode well for the online industry.

As most of us know, several media selling companies have shifted their online unit under their traditional media sales structure. And, in doing so, have not only reduced staff but taken away any real sales authority from the online group. Media Integration is a good thing, but if it is not being done properly that's a bad thing, which inevitably will cause certain media to get short shrift in the marketing process.



Let me give you a scenario from an experienced online seller from a major television organization. His situation, I suspect, was not necessarily unusual. First, his online sales unit had its staff cut dramatically. Then it was moved under the traditional TV sales group. When the television salesperson cut a deal with a network buyer at a leading agency, the TV buyer was also offered an online component to the plan. But neither the TV salesperson nor the TV buyer could negotiate for the site. The TV seller said he would later send his online salesperson in to see the online buyer who was located in a different division of the agency. When the two professionals later got together neither had enough information or authority to work out a separate deal. It took weeks of political maneuvering and a great deal of frustration to finally put something together. And, in the final analysis, I don't think the client ever got the most effective proposal.

Have you heard any stories like this before? I'd be surprised if you hadn't. But, let's take it a step further to understand what's going on. Sure, it's about money. It's hard for a media company to accomplish acceptable operating efficiency when the advertising revenue can't support a stand-alone unit. And furthermore, a stand-alone unit may not be the right infrastructure in an integrated media environment. But the keyword here is not just money and it's not just integration. It's collaboration. Integration can't work without collaboration. And, for the most part, neither the large media sales companies nor the large agencies have created an effective infrastructure to make media integration work at its most effective level.

When there is very little incentive to produce collaboration among divisions and each group is rewarded for its own P & L only, then each wants to take money from the other, rather than trying to enhance corporate revenue and profits. There has to be an infrastructure put into place that really works harmoniously and is incentivized accordingly. The unfortunate thing is that some Media Associations don't seem to get it either. They forget that we are ALL working for the advertiser who pays the bills. Sure every medium competes for ad dollars with other media. But when some landmark research study is being done to help prove the effectiveness of a medium, it's divisive not to have media planning and buying agencies offer suggestions about the work being conducted by the Media Association and its constituents to help sell the medium to advertisers.

We can't work in a vacuum anymore. And, we certainly can't engender an adversarial relationship between buyer and seller. Remember, most agencies are truly media agnostic and they are more than willing to share their experience with any medium to help position its place in the media mix. Media planners and buyers should be brought into the research process as early as possible and their views solicited before the results are in because it's necessary for a medium to understand how it fits into the overall planning and buying process. Otherwise media integration will never realize its full potential.

- Michael D. Drexler is Executive VP at Mediasmith, Inc. an integrated Interactive Media planning and buying company. During his 41 years in advertising he has been Media Director of Ogilvy, DDB and FCB as well as Chairman of TN Media. He may be reached at

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