Randolph should have been happy. her recent Promotion to head
network buyer for Omnicom/Carat made her peers green with
jealousy, but she was running scared. This upfront was going to
be fraught with peril. The AT&T/Time Warner (AT&T/TW)
integated marketing sales optimizer had just come online.
second in command to the immortal Steve Grubbs, Kim had learned
well how to deal with the networks and their packaging
maneuvers. Just five years ago she was happily buying Web
banners and felt she knew what she was doing better than anyone.
The past five years had been quite an education not only for her
but for everyone else. Now there were fifty million homes
receiving the high-speed Web through their TV sets and half of
them could appear on television in real-time through their
camcorders. The Web had become another million channels on the
dial, and nothing was the same any more.
least for the past three upfronts Kim had felt a degree of
advantage because of her buying optimizer. It fused together all
of the data available in the industry, projected it forward in
time with subjective judgments from the agency's top minds, and
was able to react to any network package in less than a minute
with a counter - offer and a visible bid to the network's
competitors - striking insecurity into the heart of the
network making the offer.
the leading network had Its own optimizer, one that stood the
idea of optimization on its head: not only did it maximize
prices, it copied the trick the top agencies had been using, and
made visible bids to her clients' competitors, creating an
auction-like atmosphere. At least, that's what Kim read about
it in The Myers Report. No one had seen it in action yet, at
least no one outside of AT&T and TW.
a shooting war," her assistant David said, bursting into
the room and causing her to spill her coffee. She ignored the
mess and turned to her PC as he punched up the connection.
"Look at this!" he blurted, scrolling down so she
could see the package AT&T and TW was offering her shop. It went
on and on, broken out by clients.
the bottom line?" she said, pouring over the figures. The
network had documented the value of each component in terms of
reach against each client's product user targets: this was going
to take some time to analyze.
about $8 billion, he said.
at these!" she gasped. Suddenly, red flashing lights
appeared next to some top-rated (3.0 or higher) returning
sitcoms, of which there were only a handful in the first
place. "These lights indicate that Mindshare and
MarketingVest have just placed bids on these shows."
could they react that fast?" David demanded, his voice
rising uncontrollably. "Itís a bluff! They're just trying
to stampede us!"
got everything in here but the kitchen sink," she muttered,
scrolling down to get the scary flashing lights off her screen.
"Bugs Bunny drinking Pepsi, movie product placement,
Internet sponsorships, network, spot, cable bill
new flashing light appeared. " There goes Universal
Initiative Media. Coke is bidding on that movie," David
choked. His hands were shaking. "What are we going to do if
we get locked out of the high-rated stuff."
the shows against the passive people meter/room-leaving
data," she ordered. "Re-rank everything and send it
back, cutting out programs that fall to the bottom. Bring the
package down to about $7 billion and shoot it back to them as
fast as you can."
should keep the projected ROI about the same," he whispered
go do it." reassured Kim. David whisked out...
paused to mop up the coffee and noticed that her hands were
shaking too. She sat back and allowed herself a smile. It didn't
matter what she did, she thought, as long as she reacted fast
and used some kind of logic, any kind of logic. The room-leaving
numbers were something the agency was identified with, so it
made sense to leverage them. Other shops would use different
parameters, whatever they had made hay with in the last year.
Kim felt cold. What was it going to be like when the other
networks had sales optimizers too? David found her with her
head in her hands and tiptoed out.
Harvey is Chairman-CEO of Next Century Media and a regular
contributor to The Myers Report. He can be reached via e-mail at