December 15, 2006
I was chatting the other day with Mark Jung, former CEO of IGN, and former COO at Fox Interactive Media, who had a great line.
“The dirty little secret of ad sales is that it is really hard.”
This is something that I think lots of early stage ventures, as well as “consumer Internet” VCs, don’t give its full due. Assuming that about 99% of the Internet ventures getting backed these days aspire to an advertising-based business model, it seems to me there are way, way more companies getting built than there are talented, experienced ad sales executives. Even if all these companies succeeded in building an audience large enough to support a real advertising business, there just isn’t enough talent to go around. And, because ad sales really is hard, companies who lack experienced senior ad sales execs are going to have a heck of a time building revenue.
Which leads me to believe that a trend we are already seeing will only increase — a growing gulf between the revenue haves and have nots in the consumer Internet. Lots of sites are going to emerge over the next couple years that tap into great audience appeal and engagement. But the vast majority of these won’t succeed in building substantial advertising businesses.
Which leads me also to conclude that this gulf will present great opportunity for the companies who DO have real ad sales teams and success — either by acquiring sites with large but unmonetized audiences, or by developing partnerships to sell otherwise unmonetized inventory.