Happy Ending

This is the end, my media friends, the end.

I called my ClickZ editor and resigned but requested the privilege of writing one more column. I wanted to because I thought I’d have some prophetic words to share. I thought I’d have parting advice, perhaps, or prognostications worthy of sharing one final time. The reason I’m quitting is the same reason I’m sitting here struggling: I’ve run out of things to say. For those of you who know me, it’s hard to believe, but true.

I’ve told you about pheasant hunting in South Dakota. You really must experience it, but, to be honest, I hope I don’t see you there. It’s getting crowded enough. The farmers who let us walk their land, they’re people you need to know. Their media consumption is changing and, as interactive media planners, we’re poised to engage them. Not to reach them (TV can do that) but engage them. Big difference.

I’ve also written about clients. As much of a pain as you may think they are, you’re one, too (client, that is). I have clients. To all you salespeople out there, I’m your client. You salespeople have people who need to sell you on stuff, too. You play the client role.

This is a service business. We chose it, and we must live with that choice. If it ain’t for you, see ya. If you recognize what you got in to, then deal with it as the rest of us do. Unless you’re willing to take risks that will likely keep you up at night, you’ll remain a service provider. Nothing wrong with that. Make sure you do something with it for the sake of those you provide services for!

I told you about absurdity and my experiences at the Eelpout Festival (I bet you don’t get another columnist who’ll do that!). Our business and clients are full of absurdities. It should boggle your mind that we must fight like we do for media dollars, despite most demographic segments spending close to 15 hours a week online. Kids and teens shun mass channels for gaming, wireless, and the Internet. Ethnic groups drive the steepness in the hockey stick curve we’ve gotten accustomed to.

The fact we still hear the word “test” in the same breath as “Internet” is absurd. Oh well. Get used to it. Continue to fight. For a medium as new as this one, we’ve done pretty well.

I am sure I’ve told you about other things, too. Hopefully, you made it to the bottom of my columns and got the point. Don’t sweat it if you didn’t. I guess I’ll try to tell you some other things before I go. We do have a bright future, after all. But you have to make it to the bottom if you want to get the point.

I honestly believe we’re in a position to turn media planning on its head. The majority of traditional media planners I know are apathetic in a changing landscape. That baffles me. We’re in the middle of the biggest revolution in the history of media. Granted, some of us may see a lot of what we do look like the last thing we did. But in what other media vertical can you break new ground every day?

The folks who control big TV budgets don’t want to break out of their predictable ways to learn what’s happening around them. They’ll be passed by, no question — and it won’t be long. Before you know it, ads on “television” will be delivered via ad-serving-like mechanisms. That will be the dawn of real addressability.

Data-driven delivery of communications to the household level, something we’ve discussed since 1995, will make the way TV is planned more like the way we plan online media now. By that time, TV won’t simply be TV (heck, it’s not simply TV right now). It’ll be a combination of what consumers want: information, entertainment, and utility. Rapid infrastructure growth, price wars among broadband players, consumer adoption rate of such things as HDTV and PVRs, as well as continued release of new, compelling technologies, keep everything moving in our direction and away from one size fits all.

Those of us with a background in direct marketing and interactive media have a leg up. The one thing we have in common is the hunger to know what’s next, to try it. If it works, great. If not, c’est la vie. There’s always next time. So keep at it, have fun, and enjoy what you do. If you don’t, make way for others.

Thanks for reading my stuff (both of you!). You’ll like the next guy, Pete Lerma. He’s got an opinion.

Carlos Santana said, “Everything is coming our way.” So let’s try not to blow it.

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