I have a bit of a thing about wooden bowls. In recent years my
mother, girlfriend and several close mates have received wooden bowls as
presents and they’ve all managed to look pleased. So I was rather
chuffed to discover a whole shop full of the things on a recent trip to
Given that a slap-up three course meal in SA rarely costs much more than
a fiver, I was sure I’d get a good deal or two in the bowl shop. Just
one problem - this was a little local shop and as I, a luminous white
boy with a funny accent, walked through the door, the shop owner’s eyes
lit up with pound signs as she mentally quadrupled the price of every
item in the shop.
Excuse the analogy, but certain TV sales houses and national press ad
teams seem to have reacted similarly to the arrival of dotcom
advertisers in the TV market. They are inflating prices, safe in the
knowledge the net companies have lots of money to spend and are
desperate for airtime.
There is an inevitability about all this. As the sales houses in
question have pointed out, this is simply a case of market forces at
work. The bowl seller said much the same thing when I attempted to
barter prices down to the levels a local might pay.
But the difference is that she did not expect me to return to her store,
whereas the ITV companies and the national papers expect the net
companies to swallow the high prices and come back for more.
This seems a mite complacent, and it is telling that Channel 5 has bent
over backwards for the dotcoms while radio and outdoor sales houses are
generally offering the same rates to dotcoms as they are offering to
Catherine Jacobs, sales director at Virgin Radio, comments: ’I don’t
think you can raise prices. We’ve tried to treat the dotcoms just like
other companies, rather than simply lining our pockets.’
David Pugh, managing director of Maiden, echoes these sentiments and
says outdoor companies are doing everything they can to ensure the
dotcom ad boom is more than a 12-month phenomenon. Interestingly, one of
the tactics employed by Maiden is establishing good contacts with
venture capitalists. Sales people with a yen for internet pounds would
do well to follow this tip, given that it is still the venture
capitalists who call the shots and who will propel the next generation
of net stars into the media.
The ITV sales houses could learn from their less powerful rivals. In an
environment where fmcg giants are slashing their brand rosters and
complaining about ITV audiences, where there is no strong hand on the
ITV tiller, and where the f-word (fragmentation) crops up almost hourly,
now is not the time to risk alienating new customers.