Saturday, August 1, 2009

Pencil bookings - a campaign to remove this

Is there really anyone in the NZ market that actually likes the pencil booking system that exists for premium display media? For those of you who don't know, several large publishers (and a few small ones) maintain a pencil booking system.

How does this work? I enquire about availability for a specific placement on a specific date, and it's available, I have the option of 'pencil booking' the placement. This means that although I am not accountable for confirming the booking, I have first right of refusal on it if another media person 'challenges' for the booking. A challenge means they're committed to buying that spot.

Which brings the second point - if I'm investigating availability, and I get told that something I want is 'pencil booked', I'm more inclined not to bother going through a process to get the client to agree to a date, then challenge the booking. I'll find a way to reach the same audience elsewhere.

Over the past few months I've been struggling to understand what value this system provides to anyone, except the few media people who like the security blanket of knowing that they have first right of renewal on placements, and that their media plan will be able to go ahead if the client signs it off. Or the media owners who have a false economy based forecasting system.

I understand that there are dates - e.g launches where a date is preferable. However it's time for clients and agencies to put their money where their mouths are. If you're committed to a date and ready to book, book. But not hold onto a placement because it 'might' go ahead. Let's leave this hokey system back in the dark ages where it originated.

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