"The destablizing effect of an auction-based system will have a negative ripple-like impact to producers and networks. Advertising space/time is not a commodity; it is a plan-able vehicle for reaching specific audiences," said Jack Cowie, principal, Highland Marketing Group.
But others see merit in the plan, especially those who are already well-versed in Web auctions. Steve Baldwin of Did-It Search Marketing thinks it's an "excellent idea! Let's make agencies accountable and let an auction squeeze out the waste! Bravo for Wal-Mart-this plan will bring more value to advertisers and shake out the nonperforming agencies in a wonderfully Darwinian fashion."
Then there are those ad veterans who have heard this idea before and aren't entirely convinced it will work this time around either. The idea of a stock exchange for TV spots was floated before by both Enron and Heinz, and just last year before the annual broadcast TV upfronts, Julie Roehm, now Wal-Mart VP-marketing communications, proposed a similar system when she was with DaimlerChrysler.
Tom Walsh of Winged Foot Consulting summed it up this way: "It's kind of like what Will Rogers said about communism: "Communism is a lot like prohibition, it's a great idea, but it will never work."