Overall I am unimpressed.
- The lead from a MAJOR portal couldn't speak to 99% of her own inventory, nor did she understand the basics of social media. To make matters worse, one of her "category expert" subordinates either "mispoke" or straight out lied more than once regarding their capabilities and inventory.
- Two major portal sales executives I heard from today spoke about how little they heard about Facebook 3 or 4 years ago. That's funny, because IT DIDN'T EXIST. Wouldn't it be great if salespeople knew a bit about their business?
- note: I regularly meet with mobile, gaming, portal and social media reps who DO understand their industry and the agency perspective. Meeting with them is truly pleasure.
- Another portal brought in a social media specialist to speak to their social media efforts. The guy had no conception of activation beyond the banner. And it goes on, and on, and on.
- Nearly half of the presentations I saw today seemed to have been written for an investor meeting. Nobody buying display ads cares about what you did 5 years ago. Just tell me what you're doing today. Sales 101: you're here for me, not for you.
I expect this out of start-ups. I expect amateur hour from most mobile vendors (though it has gotten better). But major portals? This is just sad.
- On the upside, Yahoo! has done something brilliant. They have brought in an agency person in a full-time advisory position. She gets what we're sick of hearing about and knows what we do and don't want to see (we want conversation, we don't want charts). Overall, Yahoo!'s presentation was excellent. That is not to say that Yahoo! will be lead in the next generation of web marketing, but it does demonstrate an appreciation for that which they do not know - the twisted, warped and sugar-driven minds of media and marketing people.
On another positive note, I have to give a huge kudos to most of my agency salespeople including our portal reps. Our AOL and MSN reps are fantastic. I'm just amazed at how clueless some of their larger teams seem to be.