Is One-Stop Media Buying a Failed Model?

One place to buy all of your media… one location that will change the buying model forever. Search advertising has caused a seismic shift in the media buying model.

The auction-based media buying model will apply to all sorts of advertising, not just search. We’ll change how we think and the rest of the world just has to change with us. Once merely an afterthought in the media buying process, auction-based media has changed everything for everybody.

Or has it? Is it possible that some things just don’t fit? Is there something to the media buying model, which has been in place since the dawn of advertising? Are there perhaps some legacy issues to be dealt with?

Building and Coming

The death of Google print ads came as a big shocker this week. The announcement largely went unnoticed due to a desperate nation (drunk on the concept of change) being glued to the television and labeling everything “historic” for the sake of doing so.

The “historic” ending of Google print ads sends shivers down my spine. It was a good product. It worked. Google created something wonderful and it’s going away. Google has tried to move away from being a “one trick search pony” since someone noticed that search represented 99 percent of revenues.

At this point, there are more questions than answers. What about Google’s TV ads? What’s going to happen with Google audio ads? As TV and radio undergo their own changes in the age of simultaneous media consumption, there just might be a bit more to the discussion.

Embedded Legacy Issues

A nice way of saying “nobody’s buying this,” is to say “redirecting resources.” If I were in the PR department at Google and I had to kill a product, that’s how I’d spin it. At the end of the day, though, how much of Google’s efforts are in vain?

Success isn’t guaranteed just because you create a great product. Just ask Mr. Preston Tucker about his car company. Well, you might be able to ask Mr. Tucker about his car and its untimely downfall were he still around. Another great product before its time, the Tucker Automobile Company didn’t fare well in the long term. The Tucker barely got off the ground, but it got a lot press.

The end of Google print has little to do with government conspiracies or private enterprise sabotage. The media buying model has yet to achieve the much-hyped “shift” that so many pundits rushed to say was occurring a short time ago.

Sure, there was a lot of hype about a level playing field for media buying, but too many buyers would come to me and ask if anyone was actually buying any of those new products Google (and others) were offering. Media buyers I know would graciously sit through the sales pitch meetings (because they were buying search anyway) and casually continue about their media buying days.

Diversification Definitions

Just because you’re good at one thing doesn’t mean you have a chance at being good at another. I wouldn’t expect my physician to help tailor my clothes. Google’s unique position in search (arbitrary buying decision for marketers) doesn’t mean that it can approach other types of media the same way.

If there were one or two constructive criticisms (and hope for Google’s remaining diversity product lines), I’d advise taking an entirely new approach to the model and the pitch. In other words, use the power of the parent brand to launch your sibling products but leave the world dominator attitude at home.

Rather than using a line extension (e.g., “Google TV”), use those super creative folks up in Mountain View to come up with an entirely new sibling brand. For better or worse, Yahoo had the right idea in keeping the Right Media brand alive.

Oh, and keep the emerging folks the heck away (far away) from the search people. The approach to penetrating decades old media buying hierarchies and legacy models is one of humble pie, not assumed world domination.

Disclosures: Kevin Ryan owns four shares of Google stock and 18 shares of Yahoo stock.

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