Don't Blame Traffic For Glenn Beck Ad Drop-Outs


TDGA ran a story earlier this month on the advertisers deserting the Glenn Beck “Ship,” saying they didn’t know they had spots on the program and a myriad of other excuses. We headlined the article: “Don’t Blame Traffic For This One.”

Actually, perhaps we should renew a call we made several years ago that TDGA or an equivalent organization (if there is one), be appointed to give time buyers a mini-course in “time buying” for both Radio & Television. Our reaction was the buyers at most agencies fall short in understanding the terminology they, themselves use, in placing buys. It’s conceivable they’ve presumed far too much, when they throw around terms they simply don’t understand.

The RAB a few years ago called in TDGA when they discovered their own “Task Force” on buying Radio had conflicting ideas of what constituted horizontal rotations, ROS, BTA, etc. Mary Bennett did a great job of bringing together Buyers, Reps, Stations, etc. to arrive at a common Glossary. Of course, Mary Bennett is no longer with RAB. At the time the Task Force was meeting, Television was not involved. Pity, because it would have been the perfect time to get media together for the common good of Advertiser, Agency, Reps and Stations. But, Monday morning quarterbacking is obviously- much easier than upfront logic.

We recommend TDGA to put this mini-course (or perhaps certification for buyer and seller) together, not because it is self-serving (although it definitely is) –  But, because when you cut through the negotiations, promises. Counterproposals, bonuses, dealing and bottom-line of discussions between Agencies, Reps and Stations- it really all boils down to the terminology used by Traffic at the Station or network level that “rules” what spots go where. The obvious short-cut is for all to “speak” a common language.

Agencies have vented for years using the word “Accountability”. Initially they said accountability was missing because what they thought they bought… was not what the Station Invoices reflected. Since then, anything ranging from scheduling to missing copy revisions or wrong copy delivered or using the wrong terminology is blamed on Broadcasting’s lack of accountability. It’s so easy to solve. But the 4 A’s, ANA, etc. need to call in the Cavalry, in the person of the Traffic professionals, and fix it once and for all.

(Advertising Age is just one of many publications that have covered the current pullback of, denial of placement, etc. spots on the Glenn Beck TV Show on Fox. It is, as they, themselves labeled it—“A Primer on Placement: Marketers Take Note.” We think Jack Neff, Andrew Hampp and Jean Halliday, who contributed to the article spell out the fact that nearly everyone is partially innocent. They didn’t make it a “witch hunt,” and it seemed quite factual. The truth is it would be better described as many parties were “innocently guilty” if you don’t mind a stretch of the phrase.)

Bottom line: The industry can solve the whole thing with Traffic presenting a mini-course for the parties involved in the buying chain. We’d suggest it be underwritten by the Agencies & Advertisers, TVB and RAB- with TDGA as the resource, but not the sponsor.

–Larry Keene, Larry Keene, CEO
TDGA-Traffic Director’s Guild of America