The funniest thing I’ve read in ages

Techmeme served up this story this morning, a pretty interesting piece about how ABC has started letting advertisers take makegood inventory (definition below) from ABC on its ABC.com video player during episodes of specific shows.

A makegood is defined as: Credit given to an advertiser (or advertising agency) by a publication or broadcast medium for an advertisement or commercial spot to make up for an error or unavoidable cancellation on the part of the publication or broadcast medium. The credit is usually in the form of a rerun of the advertisement or commercial.

The main point of the article was that some TV advertisers were being given free digital ad space in lieu of an airtime credit when something went wrong with an ad they had paid for, and in many cases the digital credit was more valuable. This is a pretty new development and one that makes sense for advertisers and the networks – if your TV ad schedule is packed but you have latent digital inventory then it makes sense to give the latter away, regardless of its book value. The alternative – underselling airtime to allow for all the freebies you owe to disgruntled advertisers – is damn costly, and is becoming something of a nightmare for networks battling viewer erosion.

The thing that really grabbed me though, was this fantastic passage mid-way through the article. I’ve maintained for some time that ad execs and their TV counterparts have their heads in their asses, but I never imagined one of them would be stupid enough to state it for the record (albeit anonymously). Of course, I should have known better:

More than a few media executives were astonished that some marketers would agree to [substituting digital makegoods]. “What have we come to?” asks one disgruntled executive. “How can this beat full-screen television? We don’t even know if they can measure the Internet properly, let alone giving us a demographic breakdown.”

Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! Are you fucking kidding me? Let’s respond to each point in turn, shall we?

“What have we come to?” It’s called the twenty-first century. You might have heard of it? It started about 70 years after the birth of the TV industry, and ten years after the end of the decade you, your colleagues and the entire advertising industry are stuck in (in case you’re still hungover from yesterday’s coke-and-Dom-fueled “lunch”, I’m referring to the 80’s). Were the 90’s that scary? Was grunge so terrible you all just decided “Fuck this, we’re going back to the 80’s. Shoulder pads, Miami Vice and Flock of Seagulls. Woohoo!” If and when you do decide to catch up with the rest of the world, brace yourself: OJ killed somebody but got away with it, Magic Johnson got HIV but it didn’t kill him, America invaded Iraq (twice), Michael Jackson molested a bunch of kids, and to make matters worse they made a Sex and the City movie!

“How can this beat full-screen television?” Um, by being relevant, interactive, measurable and less intrusive. You should give this Interweb-thingy a try sometime, dude – it’s really swell!

“We don’t even know if they can measure the Internet properly, let alone giving us a demographic breakdown.” WTF? Of course we can measure the Internet properly! We can measure everything, that’s what’s so damn cool about the medium! Sure, some analytics tools are better than others, but even the crappy hit counters we used to stick on our FrontPage sites in the 90’s were more accurate than anything the TV networks have. I mean for God’s sake – do any of you know someone with a people meter? Talk about the pot and the fucking kettle!

What the hell, I needed a laugh today. Sweet.

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