Facebook Fit logoWe went up to Chicago yesterday to the “Facebook Fit” bootcamp. Every event at 5 locations through the nation has sold out- with about 900 people getting a peak at what will probably turn into a much more efficient system of teaching the masses how to serve as their own media planner/buyer.

If you can make it to the one in Austin- which still has tickets available (it’s their home base for this roadshow) go.

Facebook is far from being the first to self-serve sell media- Google and Yahoo have had automated systems in place for years. What Facebook has done is made really complex targeting based on huge amounts of psychographic, demographic, geographic, economic data tied in with buyer behavior information- accessible to all. Forget Nielsen, Arbitron, Media Audit etc- their data is in real time, and the tracking is precise.

John Wanamaker famously said “I know that half my advertising money is wasted, I just don’t know which half” with Facebook analytics, it’s really easy to tell what works and what doesn’t. And when it comes to reach- while other online advertising has a 38% effective reach- Facebook is claiming studies show they have an 89% reach.

When you also realize that all you need is a smartphone with a camera to make “a Facebook ad” with a visual and a few words of copy- ad agencies grip on “media buying” is almost as obsolete as Wanamaker’s dictum. If everyone was on Facebook- many marketers problems would be totally solved, but sadly- internet penetration isn’t what it should be in the US- and smart phones aren’t in everyone’s pocket.

Which brings us around to old school conventional media and media sales. There are a ton of options for every business to buy media- with or without the help of an ad agency. Of course, there are also people who think because they can rent the Adobe Creative Suite- they can instantly make great ads. Newspapers in our area did away with the agency discount decades ago- and the 15% commission model never really worked that well- encouraging buying quantity over quality to pad agency revenue. The real question is if media sales forces are still relevant?

We’ve seen massive consolidation in both TV and radio- with the idea that having a sales force sell multiple stations makes better business sense. Often agencies find they are competing with media reps trying to go to clients directly- with deals to make quotas and fill airspace. The Next Wave is wondering why media outlets haven’t gone to self-service online buying systems- with a totally automated sales and insertion system. Long gone are the days when reps picked up tapes from agencies- and why are they still serving as go-betweens to enter in schedules into a computer to see “if it will take the offered price” – when online dutch auctions have been selling space online for years.

Media properties should be focusing all their efforts on building relationships in their local communities and providing invaluable information in real time- be it news, concert info, local events etc. The return of the DJ, VJ, real news person is here- as always connecting with social media and web. If done right- local media can have a a renaissance. If done, business as usual- there is no hope for local media when going against a verifiable advertising media provider like Facebook.