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CMOs Dissatisfied with Agencies, Ad Networks

CMOs Annoyed by Agencies, Ad Networks
HP, Charles Schwab Mull Going Direct to Media Companies; Verizon Takes Online Partners to Task

By Jack Neff

Published: October 20, 2008
ORLANDO, Fla. (AdAge.com) -- Agencies and ad networks came in for some rough treatment at a CMO roundtable during the Association of National Advertisers' annual conference on Saturday as executives vented their dissatisfaction with agency models and ad-network performance.

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"The overall message, I would have to say, with HP, is that I don't think any of these [agency] relationships are satisfactory enough that we would continue them without having some degree of experimentation," said Gary Elliott, VP-corporate marketing at Hewlett-Packard. "We've been experimenting with different agency relationships where we're looking at agency partners and vendors in ways that connect them loosely with each other. We're looking at models where we have everything with one of our key partners."

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Erratic performance
Not that media companies got unconditional love. Verizon's Mr. Harrobin pointed to the erratic performance of online advertising networks as one of the biggest hurdles to more media dollars going online and recounted some tough love Verizon recently visited upon the networks.

"We in late July saw three of our banner ads on sites that we absolutely would not want to associate with," Mr. Harrobin said. Verizon asked for a full report and assurance it wouldn't happen again, but in August it happened again, and Verizon pulled all of its online advertising except ads placed through AOL's Platform-A, where Mr. Harrobin said a process was already in place for preventing such problems.

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Impeding growth
"Managing context of where your ad appears online with these networks is really vital," he said. He added that online video sites' refusal to allow pre-roll advertising is another major impediment to growth of online media.

"There are still doubts that [online is] as effective at telling a story as TV or has the reach," Mr. Harrobin said. "Thankfully, Hulu and MTV and others have proven that you can do this effectively without disrupting the customer experience. So I think that's going to help the market."

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