Like many men now in their 30s or 40s who lived in New York City in the '90s watching at least ten hours of TV per week, I still quote lines from "Seinfeld" in everyday conversation. This column's title comes from an episode where George Costanza is upset that his world with his friends is colliding with his very separate world with his girlfriend. Depending on your love of "Seinfeld," hilarity ensues as George tries to keep his friends apart from his girlfriend so the George known to his girlfriend does not "kill Independent George."
I've had that episode pop in my head many times since I joined digital video network Smartclip. For the past 13 years, I have been focused on online advertising, and before that I was a part of the TV world. I miss the people from the national TV ad marketplace and the simplicity of buying and selling. Not that the people in TV are simple of course, but it was nice to buy $3 million of media over the phone after a week of negotiations and then simply get the follow-up letter from the sales rep confirming the buy a few days later. Creative was delivered on time, campaigns started and ended on time, and everyone agreed on how ratings were measured. As they say on the "Saturday Night Live" sketch "Delicious Dish": "Good times, good times."
I had flashbacks to that world last fall when I was lucky enough to attend the farewell party for BBDO/OMD/PHD icon Steve Grubbs, who was one of two people responsible for letting me drop some TV clients and start BBDO's online media buying practice in '95. Of the 75 people at the party, I was probably one of a few not still in the national TV business. Yes, the TV business has changed in some ways over the past 10+ years as I learn when talking with my old colleagues, but obviously nothing like the constantly evolving world of online. It was amazing to see how separate our jobs had been over the years even though we perform the same core roles, just in different media.
There are some signs, however, that TV and online people are starting to work together and understand each other's business. In the last week of TV upfront presentations, we're seeing more-integrated sales teams getting better at packaging TV and online inventory, assigning proper value and not just throwing in online as added value, as TV billboards get tossed in with :30s.
More specific to the world of online video, we now have a large enough audience, thanks to broadband penetration and content delivery platforms, that online video inventory is starting to get tangible enough to make a real impact for clients and justify some budget shifts. And measurement firms are starting to build tools that can truly help agencies and clients measure key variables like reach, frequency, and ad effectiveness for TV and online. But there are still too many silos in every organization across the ecosystem.
In Germany, our parent company is seeing about half of its revenue this year coming from TV budgets. How can networks like ours get to that point here in the U.S.? I'd like to hear from you on challenges and successes at your firms.
And as our online advertising industry continues to mature, hopefully we can still hang onto what we love about Independent George.