Posts from May 13, 2005

How advertising really works

How advertising really works

: Howard Stern told great and pathetic stories this morning about trying to get a job when he got out of college: radio guys who listened to his horrible audition tape and told him he was the worst announcer they’d ever heard, a close-miss at becoming a ladies’ buyer at Bloomingdales, and stints with advertising:

He got a job as a media planner at Benton & Bowles. Math skills? they ask. Excellent, he says. And then he arrives at work and knows he’s in over his head. He’s working on Planter’s Peanuts. The boss whips out a calculator and sheets of numbers and tells him to find all the Jewish newspapers in the country — Jews like peanut oil for cooking, he says — and calculate the CPM and then divide. In Howard’s head, he shrieks: “Divide? DIVIDE?!?” He comes in on Saturdays and then Sundays — “you don’t have to wear a tie on Sundays,” somebody tells him (which reminds me of the old working-at-Disney joke: “If you don’t come in on Saturday, don’t bother coming in on Sunday”). He can’t do it. He quits with no notice.

Note that this is how money is divvied up to the titans of media: Some kid out of college who, if he’s lucky, can divide, plans where to spend an advertiser’s bucks.

Howard’s father then got him an in a the B&B film department as the AV geek but he got fired before he was hired because he’d quit his last job there without notice.

And then he got a job in sales at a tiny radio station, where the boss, who wasn’t wearing a shirt, told him to sell advertising and get in-kind trade: Howard went to a Chinese restaurant and convinced the man he had to advertise on radio and he comes back to the office with hundreds of Chinese dinners at the ready when he finds authorities taking documents. He goes back to the Chinese restaurant and tells him never to advertise on radio.

This is how media works.

Measured

Measured

: I’ve been at the Aspen Institute for a day and a half sitting with smart people figuring out ways to get ethnic media its due with advertisers. There are some issues in common with online and citizens’ media: trying to navigate advertising agencies as “gatekeepers of risk,” as one of the participants called them, and agencies’ fetish for measurement and performance. Kevin Riley, a marketing exec at IBM, gave advertisers a caution I love:

The less measurable it is, the more valuable it is.

Clark emphasized that he’s not against measurement; who can be in his biz? But the point is that if advertisers and agencies wait for something new — blogs, vlogs, podcasts, RSS, and whatever’s next — to be fully measurable, they’ll miss the opportunity to get in on the buzz of something new while it’s still new and still cheap.