Google Gets a Dose of Media Reality

I sometimes joke with the Just Media team that media planning could be done by a bunch of trained monkeys. It’s one of the reasons clients are always trying to pay us peanuts for our services!

Indeed in this modern economy of cost cutting and service justification it’s often the impression that agencies like ours that only do media planning and buying (no creative work) are a luxury item that can be replaced, in many cases by clients doing the work themselves. Well for once I have to send my thanks to Google for proving to all that it’s simply not possible to replace hard working media professionals with automated systems and algorithms.

The news Google has pulled out of trying to sell traditional media like print and radio was somewhat of a surprise to me I have to say. I was quietly concerned that potential cost savings offered by media bidding models would attract significant attention and dollars out of the hands of professional buyers, like us. I thought, foolishly it seems, that human input into this process was so devalued by many that a new “agency” model was being created – indeed that was the stated goal.

However the reality is it’s actually getting harder than ever to be in this business. The knowledge required is so much greater than just 15 years ago when I started on the agency side (where I moved for ad sales). Obviously the web has lead to much of that – it’s a media vehicle with almost unlimited options and the ability to combine pretty much every other media type within it (print, radio, TV, events, face to face meeting, out of home – all is replicated in the digital world). However as we have seen even radio, a media format that offers so many similarities with online as regards buying (small standardized ad units, solid audience demographics, calculated values of spot rate based on target reached) it’s really not that simple. Especially complex is the evaluation of the performance metrics so beloved by Google algorithms and also the “human effect” of bias ingrained in most radio advertisers who like to speculate on what times and stations their target is listening rather than using simple mathematics to calculate a reach/impression/value matrix that builds a plan based on desired response.

So thank you Google – for once you have helped prove we still do have a place in this world and that my team is not in any immediate danger of being replaced by chimps and gibbons.

Dick Reed
Just Media, Inc.

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