Just an Online Minute... Turning the Titanic

The third annual MediaPost Forecast 2004 conference has come to a close and much like every interactive industry gathering in recent months, it left all attendees with a renewed sense of optimism for the future.

Today's edition of our MediaDailyNews is chockfull of play-by-play accounts of what happened at the show, complete with stats, quotes and other things, but I wanted to quickly mention something that has been plaguing me since the Traditional Media Day on Wednesday - agency commission structures and how they will continue to impede the growth of online advertising.

Media Kitchen's Head Chef Paul Woolmington frankly told the assembly that since media agencies work on commission there is no incentive for them to be media-neutral (read: take chances with interactive media). There is, however, a huge incentive for them to sink more media dollars into broadcast TV. Couple that with the fact that media people are notoriously risk-averse and we've got a very dismal situation on our hands.

We, the interactive advertising industry, can talk about how traditional advertisers just don't "get" the web yet until we're blue. We can offer them convincing research and wonderful case studies. We can even solve the spam and pop-ups problems. But the real reason online ad spending is still in the single digits is that media agencies make their money from 30-second commercials. We need to turn the Titanic that is the media agency commission structure around. And that doesn't happen overnight.

Does that mean we're doomed? Of course not. We have to change the way things are done in this industry one client and one agency at a time. "We have to fight passionately for good ideas," as Woolmington put it, and eventually we will win.

And on that happy note, a Happy Jewish New Year!

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