Moving Past The Echo Chamber Of Our Own Jargon

Dave Morgan

Founder & CEO

GRP. CPM. CPA. DSP. DMP. That is how we talk to each other. That is how we talk to our clients. That is a problem.

The media industry has an echo chamber problem, and it’s holding us back. Not only do we spend massive amounts of time working together, but we also dine together, conference together, vacation together, drink together, commiserate together, marry each other, and on and on. You get the picture. I don’t know whether we are the most insular massive industry out there, but we’re certainly close.

For sure, one of the reasons we spend so much time together – apart from the obvious fact that our industry requires a massive amount of human communication, interaction and negotiation to operate – is that people in the industry tend to be pretty interesting, fun and stimulating to hang out with. But all this hanging out also creates a problem. When it comes to market myopia, we’re sometimes not much better than the railroad industry. We love our own products so much we can’t imagine that everyone else doesn’t.

When it comes to confusing shorthand references and nuanced jargon that’s practically impenetrable, we’re not much more accessible than inside baseball (thus, the notion of talking “inside baseball” language). In our digital realm, we’re now using more acronyms than the U.S. military, and ours aren’t nearly as creative (think DSP and CPM versus FUBAR).

This isn’t a column about how we use too many acronyms when we talk. I’ve written that one before. This is about our problem making what we do relevant to the broader leadership in business enterprises, because we talk too much as if we’re talking to ourselves.

CEOs don’t care about rating points, nor do they care about reductions in fees paid to media agencies. They care about sales growth. They care about market share growth. They care about great brand stories. They care about happy customers. They care about ROI.

One of the reasons the media industry finds itself under attack today – with a record number of media agency reviews, along with calls for even further reductions in fees – is that many of us find too much comfort in hiding behind our own antiquated and isolated way of doing business, with an inability to translate that into language and metrics that the broader marketing business enterprises can understand and care about.

If the media industry put as much effort into proving the return-on-investment it delivers for advertisers – proving, and communicating simply and clearly, that the vast majority of advertising expenditures are actually self-funding, given the sales results they drive – as it does on celebrating and lauding itself at its many hundreds of annual awards shows and conferences, our business would not face many of the challenges that it does today from clients, investors and pundits.

I think solving the problem won’t take much more than just stepping outside of our echo chamber, recognizing that CEOs and shareholders want sales growth and ROI, not GRPs and DSPs. What do you think?

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