Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Online Ad Buys: On Hold for the Holidays

It’s now very old news that the online ad market is going to get roughed up next year. But by how much? If you want, you can take a gander at this week’s prognostications from Interpublic (IPG), WPP and Publicis. But online ad sales people I talk to say there really isn’t much point in placing any bets on 2009 until the end of this month.

That’s because ad sales have basically stopped until the end of the holiday season, I’m told.

There are some exceptions: If you want, say, prime placement at Yahoo (YHOO) to promote your blockbuster over the July 4th weekend, you have to pay up now. And Google’s (GOOG) search ads aren’t purchased in advance, anyway. But in general, no one wants to commit money to the Web until they see how they did in December.

That may sound like common sense, but it’s a change from past years, and it’s a story I keep hearing. Latest example: A sales executive from a very, very large online publisher told me he has multiple seven- and eight-figure ad deals hammered out and ready to go. But buyers have walked away and are letting the deals sit for the rest of the month, until they assess their holiday sales.

My ad executive is an optimistic sort (obviously), so he figures they’ll sign the paperwork eventually. But he also assumes that said buyers will try to use this month’s data as a hammer to knock down prices by 10 percent or more. I’ll check back at the end of the month, and see how that optimism is holding up.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work