On this blog, I often write a quick summary of what happens during my shift as a taxi driver in the City. Sometimes I’ll pick up friendly yuppies going to a baseball game. Sometimes I’ll pick up a transgender prostitute and her customer who soon demands more drugs. I never know what’s going to happen.
Before I started driving a cab, I worked at a media buying agency owned by the Omnicom Group. What would a ‘shift’ blog entry look like from a day in the office? Would people be interested in reading my blog if I wrote about that line of work? (Probably not.)
Here’s what a blog entry would look like from a typical day in the office.
Yesterday in the office
- I ate McDonalds breakfast again. This time I experimented with the two burrito meal. In my early years I would always get a small Coca Cola, but these days it just doesn’t cut it. I need more caffeine to stay awake. McDonald’s coffee is actually quite flavorful. Sometimes I think it’s better than Starbucks.
- Say, speaking of Starbucks, I think it’s about time I did some research on Starbucks. Wow! Who knew the Wikipedia entry for Starbucks could be so long? I might as well soak it all in while I’m eating.
- I guess it’s time to fire up Outlook. I always hope for a large number of new messages. The more messages I have to read, the longer I can procrastinate doing work. Oh nice, 26! Half a dozen are automated notices or ad industry newsletter subscriptions. Those eat up a lot of time. Gotta read the IAB Smartbrief!
- Whoops, here’s something that needs doin’:
- See, an ad operations person at an online publisher, let’s say NationalNewspaper.com, found out that the new Flash ad for our client’s campaign doesn’t fit their standards (for sizing, kb limit, excessive loops, etc). Oops!
- So, the ad ops guy contacts the ad rep. The ad rep forwards me this email with a flowery, innocent, “I’m not sure what’s going on here.”
- I forward the email to a superior, who replies, telling me to whom I should forward the email at the creative agency.
- I forward the email to the contact at the client’s creative agency (also an Omnicom Group Company), who forwards it to a subordinate, who then forwards it to an a production team supervisor, who then forwards it to the PERSON THAT ACTUALLY FIXES THE AD.
- This person is usually a contractor and does not receive benefits. I don’t know what they make, but in this market, you can advertise for an entry level Flash developer on craigslist and pay them $20/hr or less.
- This lowly paid person ACTUALLY FIXES THE AD. Note, they are fixing it because they were not informed when originally creating the ad that they needed to fit this size, kb max, etc requirement.
- This person forwards the finished creative (Flash file) to their production supervisor, who forwards it to the subordinate of our contact, who forwards it to the contact, who forwards it to my superior, who forwards it to me, who forwards it to the ad rep, who forwards it to the ad ops guy at NationalNewspaper.com.
- Witness the MAGIC OF THE INTERNETS! Aren’t we efficient?
- Phew, that was a lot of forwarding. It’s time to go make some coffee.
- Checked my voicemail. A couple of ad reps are worried that their sites haven’t been paid by our agency. Now it’s time to do some accounts payable!
- I receive a bill from NationalNewspaper.com for 4 million impressions. Oops, according to our 3rd party tracking tool, DoubleClick (soon to be purchased by Google), they didn’t actually deliver those impressions. We need a new bill that reflects the actual delivery of 3,806,503 impressions.
- I send this request to the ad rep who sends it to their finance office who sends it to a lowly paid worker who makes the change and sends it back to the ad rep who sends it back to me.
- I now enter the amount owed 3 different times in an archaic accounting system designed in the 60’s. It is kept alive via an ssh terminal.
- Of course, all these figures were entered already on our end when we planned this campaign. And, they were entered a second time on the publisher’s side. So, why are we entering it again into our company’s 1960’s era accounting system? Because it doesn’t interface with anything external to its being. It is easier to keep what works, right? Why, oh why, would we pay a consulting company to design a better IT based accounting solution when we can pay entry level college graduates $15/hour to duplicate the data entry labor?
- It’s a lot cheaper to pay the cheap college graduate labor.
- This takes up the rest of my morning.
- I eat lunch for free.
- An ad rep from a publisher, such as DisplayAdsMiddlemanBroker.com, pays for our lunch for the right to talk to us for 1 hour.
- Sometimes these reps make outlandish claims, such as, “Our proprietary technology called ‘Instant Page View’ can guarantee 100% page views.”
- “Gosh,” I say, “this looks an awful lot like a pop-up window.”
- “No, this is our ‘Instant Page View’ technology.”
- “Oh, how silly of me. Do go on!”
- This experiment is too painful to continue. Needless to say, the rest of my day does not improve.
UPDATE: This ranked strongly for a while on Google search results for “day in the life of a media buyer”. As such, the following is a special message for recent graduates or soon-to-be college graduates:
Make sure you know what you’re getting into! During the interview process, ask what duties you’ll be doing at your job. Quiz current employees on their day-to-day responsibilities. Ask the other employees, “How well did the job description match your actual duties?” And if worst comes to worst, they’re always hiring taxi drivers in San Francisco.