So Rocketboom’s ad auction came off with a rather obscure advertiser — TRM, an ATM and photocopy vending company — getting the privilege to be the first to promote on the hottest vlog … and to get free publicity because of it. Good for TRM and good for Rocketboom, valuing a week’s worth of commercials at $40,000 (and good for me not being made a liar predicting in The New York Times that they would be worth a high CPM).
But this is bad for big ad agencies and big advertisers who missed this boat bigtime. I’m not talking about any specific brand or company (disclosure: I know of some advertisers but I’m not talking about them; I’m talking about the ones that didn’t even have the courage to try). They should have been falling over themselves to grab this unique bargain. And they should be slinking off with their long tails between their legs now. Advertisers constantly whine that they want to do something new, but when something new comes along, they freeze because they can’t fit the new thing into their definitions of old and safe.
And here we have in a microcosm the explanation of why media is so horribly out of sync today: The public is valuing new media much more than the old, but the advertisers still value the old. Most every newspaper and in many cases TV networks and magazines have much larger audiences online, but the revenue for their old media properties remains much higher because the advertisers and agencies still value the old and the safe. They want metrics. They want control. They want guarantees. This, in turn, makes big publishers and producers play it safe because they don’t want to mess with the cash cow. And that means that advertisers miss the opportunity to reach a larger, younger, smarter audience in the new medium, which is — supposedly — what they’re dying to do. And that means that big media companies now face competition from a thousand Rocketbooms and a million Gawkers. That allows a TRM to come along and snatch away an opportunity from the big, lumbering giants. That is why small is the new big. Small be nimble, small be quick, small jumped over the conglomerates.
Or let me summarize the problem in one word. Big advertisers and big agencies are chickenshit. They need to grow some balls or else they’ll find new competitors running circles around them. The explosion — the rocketboom — that has already come to newspapers, magazines, TV networks, the music industry is coming next to the ad business.
Please take this, advertisers, as a friendly kick in the pants.