4A’s: Goldstein Urges Compromise

LAS VEGAS Marc Goldstein, CEO of WPP-owned GroupM North America and chairman of the American Association of Advertising Agencies’ media policy committee, told attendees at the 4A’s annual Media Conference in Las Vegas today that regardless of which form of commercial ratings data they favor as a negotiating tool, the industry must be willing to reach a compromise.

Goldstein said it is counterproductive for agencies to take a hard-line stance on the type of commercial ratings data that needs to become the industry standard.

“As a new rating system takes hold, we find ourselves in a predicament,” Goldstein said. “We all agree that our ultimate objective is a more accurate yardstick. We all want a system that give us reliability, stability and predictability. But what we can’t seem to agree on is what form these ratings will take.”

Some media agencies have advocated the use of average commercial ratings for the duration of a show to use in negotiating ad rates with the broadcast and cable networks, while other agencies have argued for minute-by-minute ratings. Goldstein said there is also the issue of how to factor in time-delayed TV viewing via DVRs.

“It seems unlikely anyone will get everything they want as this hot-button issue continues to be debated,” he said. “The sooner we all can agree that compromise is needed, the better. I believe compromise is the best way to ensure that we take the right step forward.”

Goldstein said he is hopeful that the media agencies and TV networks can reach a compromise so that commercial ratings can be used as negotiating currency in the upcoming TV upfront buying period which begins in about 10 weeks. He also called on media agencies to embrace and support efforts by the 4A’s to come up with an industry standardized way to do business electronically.

“I’m embarrassed that in 2007, in this technologically advanced world, we are still in the dark ages compared to most industries in this area,” he said. “Let’s put this at the top of our priority list. Let’s put away our differences and cooperate with each other so we can put in place a set of business practices that will make our lives more productive while retaining flexibility for future media and future generations.”

Goldstein also criticized the media agencies for not doing enough to foster ethnic diversity within the industry. “Suffice it to say, our industry’s track record in attracting young, multicultural professionals to join our ranks has been lacking and it’s time we fix the problem,” he said.

He also urged media agencies to get more involved with content creation, whether it be via the Internet or in conjunction with the TV networks.