Ten Things I Think I Know

This column is in honor of Peter King, famed football columnist for Sports Illustrated. I borrowed the section header of his popular weekly column on for the title of my column today. Swiping and repurposing content is condemned and prosecuted within other media, while an accepted norm on the Web. I am not sure if this is a good thing or a bad one, but here now are ten things I think I know:

1. I think I know there is no substitute for face time with buyers when selling media (or anything else, for that matter). Face time is no longer restricted to across-the-desk and behind-a-presentation kind of time, but rather, more creative and spontaneous ways to advance your clients' understanding of your brand's value to your readers. If I worked at, I would go to all of my agencies on rainy days and hand out umbrellas. On sunny days, I would hand out sunscreen.

2. I think I know online sellers and buyers move too fast to the next big thing, way before the next big thing becomes no big thing to the users. Practicing patience would allow users to get comfortable enough with new content experiences (like podcasts, for example) that they would be more accepting of ads when layered into the experience. In turn, sellers could then price this "next big thing" based on measurable delivery metrics and not just hype.



3. I think I know what it's like to sell online advertising, and I am not sure I like how it is currently priced and sold: buyers enjoy too much leverage and care too little about the value of the ad exposure itself. However, I do love how creative boundaries in online advertising are gently pushed around like a leaf on a windy day.

4. I think I know what it feels like to absorb pressure from your managers on top of the pressure you place on yourself. No wonder coffee is legally permitted as a way to smuggle in an addictive drug. Selling media is for neither the weak nor the proverbial nine to fiver.

5. I think I know that, given the choice to sell online or a more traditional medium like television or print, the choice is an easy one. If you sell a traditional media property that has a Web site, but you are not comfortable selling it as a combination, it is not your fault. Your management has to make it easier for you to package.

6. I think I know that cross-medium selling at large media companies will never sniff its potential, regardless of buyer demand, until sales commission plans are reconstructed to reward this sales behavior more than they reward selling single-medium deals.

7. I think I know that the Minnesota Vikings (or what I refer to as my team), would have beaten the Denver Broncos in the Superbowl had they not choked at home to the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game back in 1999, the year I started selling online advertising. Chris Chandler played the game of his career for the Falcons, while my quarterback turned Eagle green.

8. I think I know that the credibility of content published on the Web will become a more important factor in online buying decisions once clients have their brand exposed on sites that lack credibility, and have the chance to realize the difference.

9. I think I now know that I feel guilty for not creating an original structure for this column, and for borrowing someone else's anything without obtaining permission.

10. I think I know I enjoy the feedback I have received from sharing what I know about selling advertising in these columns, and that I owe you a better one next time.

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