Everyone wants to sell ads like Amazon.com sells books — one click and it's done. Social networks Facebook and MySpace as well as ad networks AdBrite, AdReady and AdItAll have all followed Google to offer advertisers do-it-yourself buying options. The trend has led both the Wall Street Journal and PaidContent to wonder if online ad sales teams will go the way of the dodo, or at least the travel agent. The answer — especially for social networks MySpace and Facebook — is no.
Not if Facebook and MySpace hope to tap the kind of budgets large advertisers have ready. Procter & Gamble spends $300 million in a month. Big buyers like that are used to TV, where "you can get a million dollars worth of advertising in one phone call," Cisco's Web marketing director Michele Gibson recently told us. Dropping coin like that, these buyers want publishers — not a publisher's website — to explain exactly who will see their ads and how. At Ad:tech in San Francisco last month, ad buyers practically screamed for social networks to "educate" them on how they can spend more money to reach an audience obviously moving online. That means more steak dinners — and for Facebookers in particular, it means sending out fewer impersonal customer-service emails and picking up the phone instead.
AdWeek's Brian Morrissey explains with an analogy:
The ad world will end up looking a lot like financial services where lots of investors trade on their own, but big institutional investors go through Goldman.