September 03, 2013

Media Buyers Are Ruining Everything

The fun part of being a contrarian is coming up with crackpot theories. And I've got a doozie for you today (by the way, how do you spell doozie?)

(Also, by the way, get ready for a lot of "by the ways" and parentheses today.)

I think that a substantial part of what makes our culture such a toxic cesspool can be laid at the feet of agency media buyers. Yup, all this rot is their fault.

You wouldn't think that a kale-eating, instagram-obsessed 28 year-old media buyer could have much effect on society. But you'd be wrong. They actually have an alarming and pernicious effect.

In a very insidious way agency media buyers influence our culture. Their decisions on what TV, radio and web media to buy largely determine what types of TV, radio and web content are produced. Nobody wants to produce programming or content they can't sell (except NBC, but that's an accident.)

Media buyers pay special attention to the interests and tastes of 18-34 year olds... oops, excuse me, Millennials (they've been re-named, promoted and deified. By the way, I just noticed that "deified" is a palindrome. Is this blog awesome, or what? But I digress...)

These peoples' tastes determine what our media look and smell like. They set the tone and determine the agenda.

Why do people care about the amazingly talented and sophisticated (sarcasm) Miley Cyrus? Because the media pay attention to her. It's quite a simple formula -- no media coverage, no Miley.

Why do the media pay attention to her? Because media buyers will "buy" her. Why will media buyers buy her? Because idiot 18 year-olds want to hear about her.

 I don't really know what this illustration means but I don't think it's fair that the digi-dorks get to use all the arrows and circles.
The obsession with targeting 18-34 year-olds is mostly quite dumb. But that's a whole other story that we don't have time for today. You really can't expect media buyers to understand it. They just do what media buyers have always done (it's so much simpler than thinking.)

Why is most TV, radio and web programming and content so astoundingly stupid? Because 18 year-olds are astoundingly stupid.

So what ya get is crazy stupid programming which fills us with crazy stupid values and crazy stupid culture and creates crazy stupid people. Ergo, media buyers are ruining everything.

It's a very pleasant time to be an idiot.

And who would know that better than me?


DenTarthurdent said...


Jay said...

If media buyers only care about 18-34 year olds, how do you explain the 47 different CSI-style or Sexy-(insert graduate degree holding professional, aka doctor, lawyer, etc) shows that have littered the airwaves in the past 5-10 years? Nobody under 55 was seeing those things and they dominated prime time on cable and networks alike.

Or did we just do a market correction and that's why those shows are gone?

White Rock Media said...

This logic may apply to advertising agencies who work with megabrands like Coca Cola, but at the local level I can attest that smart advertisers are driving consistent, measurable sales results by focusing on far more than the pop culture flavor of the month (or week, or day...). They have clearly defined their customer segments and their media planners/buyers focus not only on media consumption patterns of these target customers - but also on those potential customers' path-to-purchase. So, those looking for media "tonnage" may follow the pattern described in this post, but smart advertisers are much more specific and disciplined with how they go about promoting their brands.

We love this blog, by the way. Its unfortunate that this post's headline is so provocative, but that's how you get peoples attention, I suppose.

Cecil B. Demille said...

This is a chicken/egg discussion, to be sure. What you're really asking here is who fucked up the other – did culture fuck up media buyers or did media buyers fuck up culture?

I think MTV fucked up culture when they stopped playing fucking music. The Real World was the beginning of the end.

I said fuck a lot. Sorry about that. Can I blame media buyers or culture for that? Or does it matter at this point?

bob hoffman said...

Love you, too.

But...please explain to me why car marketers (including local ones) target 18-to-34 year olds when people 75-to-dead buy more cars than they do.

bob hoffman said...

According to Fast Company, 80% of advertising is targeted at 18-34 year olds.

DonMedia said...

I have bought for a lot of local car dealers and the youngest demo I ever targeted was A25-49 and that was for a low end Suzuki dealer. A much more common demo was A35-64. The only thing I ever bought for a young demo was for a local Pepsi bottler.

White Rock Media said...

Hi Bob!

The automotive clients that my agency serves (dealers, not manufacturers) are squarely focused on people who actually buy cars. We define customer segments beyond just age and gender (these can differ depending on the dealership, manufacturer and model of vehicle being promoted). For example, such segments are often defined in terms of Age, Gender, Geography and Income (i.e. Adults 25-54, living in specified ZIP codes, with at least $50,000 annual household income). Adding these additional criteria to the target definition lets us index media tactics against this specific type of person. If Age & Gender were our only targeting criteria, we would probably load our clients' budgets into those tactics that delivered the lowest cost-per-point (CPP). By factoring in these additional criteria we are able to find and utilize tactics that optimize the balance between cost-efficiency and target-richness. (This describes how we would approach broad-based media analysis).

In addition to broad-based tactics, we also deploy digital media tactics that are effective at reaching customers who are actively in the process of buying a vehicle. Examples of such tactics include Search Engine Marketing, contextual display advertising, and re-targeting - both in desktop and mobile platforms.

To sum up, we try to increase our clients' "batting average" with broad-based media (like TV and Radio) by comparing and balancing the cost indexes and target indexes of specific tactics. Whenever possible, we also employ tactics that are more likely to reach people who are actively in the purchase process.

I don't want to suggest that any of these tactics are perfect. They require constant monitoring and refinement. I would suggest that they are more thoughtful and rigorous than picture painted by this post.

I wish I could explain why car manufacturers seem to target 18-34 year old best guess would be that are "planting seeds" with future car buyers. Given the short-term nature of most corporate decision-making, this seems an unlikely explanation.

KL said...

I posit that Fast Company is wrong.

paulbenjou said...

The media buyers don't make the marketing decisions to target a younger audience. Lay the blame at the feet of the marketing agents who define and approve targeting factors.

Deborah Fisher said...

Once again goodonya Bob!

Shanghai61 said...

As KL points out above, Fast Company could simply be wrong. Wouldn't be the first time a magazine has demonstrated it doesn't know the first damn thing about the industry that funds its very existence. AdNews, for example ...

Adam Craig said...

Media as well as Media Buying Services are emerging as a successful business trends according to today's scenario.