"Our philosophy is that the Web is hard to get around. How can we make it easier?"
Advertising age, 07/14/97
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Richy glassberg has come full circle.
Since 1995, the 39-year-old former cable executive has been one of the most visible figures in the Internet media universe: first, by launching the revenue side of what is now AOL Time Warner's CNN.com and then, in 1996, as a founder of the Internet Advertising Bureau (now the Interactive Advertising Bureau). But perhaps his most visible role was as CEO of Internet rep firm Phase2Media, which represented the online ventures of companies such as Hachette Filipacchi Magazines. The firm folded earlier this year because, Mr. Glassberg says, "We were probably three years too early and six months too late on the funding cycle."
Now, he's back in cable as senior VP-ad sales for News Corp.'s Speedvision. Certainly, Mr. Glassberg wouldn't be criticized for running for the safer hills of cable TV. But it's not quite that simple. He is still a believer in the Internet, and, in his new role, is still getting to dabble in it a bit. In addition to overseeing ad sales for the cable network, he is also selling its much smaller Internet component.
"I am one of the biggest believers that the Web will change our children's lives and their brand purchase and brand awareness behavior," he says. "But I think that's going to be tied in with multiple platforms of media and not as a Web standalone."
So far, he's been able to put advertisers' money where his mouth is. When asked if any advertisers have only purchased Speedvision's Internet site, he replies, "No. But I also don't have any that have just purchased the cable channel."
But Mr. Glassberg readily admits that selling Internet advertising is still hard. "The most frustrating thing about the Internet today is that after seven years, there still is no clear definition of what an ad impression is on buying a Web unit. ... Everybody understands the definition of buying a 30-second ad on TV, a page in The Wall Street Journal and a billboard over the Lincoln Tunnel."
In fact, he traces the dramatic downturn in Internet advertising to when it began to stray from other media. He cites "Internet-only people [who] thought that they were going to replace television and magazines and newspapers" as one part of the problem. But he seems to reserve special disdain for the people behind the independent portals like Yahoo! and Terra Lycos' Lycos, who he charges put the goal of pleasing Wall Street ahead of pleasing advertisers. He says, "The independent search/portals made a mistake and are allowing themselves to be the most expensive Yellow Pages in history, and the media properties that understand how to fully integrate traditional platforms with new media platforms are the ones who are going to dominate and win."