Run! It's The Sales Team Armageddon! Oh, Wait, It's Only Over There? Never Mind!

“It depends” is one of the most excruciating phrases not because it doesn’t tell you much, but because it’s often true.

When digital content company Demand Media announced that it will focus entirely on programmatic, cutting ties with its direct sales team in the process, my first thought was of a sales team doomsday. It’s hard to go a week without hearing about the impact that programmatic media-buying is having on direct sales teams, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s jarring to see a team actually get cut.

But it would be overblown to treat Demand Media and its decisions in a microcosmic way. On the flip side, this type of move can’t be marginalized.

I asked Kristen Moore, VP of marketing at Demand Media, how much at risk sales teams are across the industry. She gave the dreaded -- but true -- reply: “it depends.”

“Every publisher is different,” she remarked. “There’s not one model that will work for everyone. Our audience is what we call intent-driven, so they come to us looking for answers; they are ready to take action at that moment.” She said with that type of audience, a fully programmatic approach makes sense.

“But if you look at a lifestyle or entertainment-oriented portal, like Yahoo, that’s a different story,” she continued. “There are bigger branding plays there. I think it’s different for all.”

Even still, we can’t ignore the fact that sales teams are actually being cut; it's not just being talked about. Moore acknowledged that sales teams will need to evolve and learn how to sell across all solutions. She called it an “evolution instead of a demolition.”

That is a good way to put it, but the “it depends” still plays a part here. Sure, it’s an evolution for some sales teams, but something tells me newly fired sales people view it as a demolition. I guess whether or not it's a true sales team Armageddon just depends where those teams are located.

2 comments about "Run! It's The Sales Team Armageddon! Oh, Wait, It's Only Over There? Never Mind!".
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  1. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, January 30, 2014 at 11:48 a.m.

    This will only hasten Demand Media's race to the bottom, something they hardly need any more help with.

  2. Michael Hubbard from Media Two Interactive, January 30, 2014 at 12:19 p.m.

    So I know that Federated Media started this last year, and just finalized things by literally selling off the last of it to LIN - so Demand isn't the first to make the bold move. What I don't understand (and I'm a guy that LOVES programmatic) though is are they planning on only making money off of exchange data? If so, why would I would work with them when I can buy the same inventory direct off the exchanges but without the extra mark up? Or, are they setting up premium programmatic buys in which they're partnering with someone - in which case, wouldn't they still need a sales team? The AdWeek announcement didn't give any details either, so I'm always curious the thought process behind these.

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