LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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MediaCom's Mandel clarifies TNT comments

On behalf of MediaCom and myself, I believe there is a need to clarify and correct the article "TNT snubs 4A's offer to discuss ad-log procedure" (AA,

March 6), which covered the issue of billing discrepancies in the cable industry.

One of the areas of discrepancy is proof of performance.

First, this is not only a Turner problem. It is not isolated to one agency or one cable network.

Second, I have never maintained that Turner Broadcasting changed its log to match an invoice. MediaCom's audit turned up an instance where the invoice/proof of performance did not match the log for an announcement that was trafficked a few days before air.

There is no question that the interaction between the buyer and seller during the placing, stewarding and invoicing of media needs attention -- ask any member of the American Association of Advertising Agencies national television and radio committee or media policy committee.

A single cable network/media buyer relationship might involve hundreds of thousands of commercial occurrences -- many of which are booked or trafficked at the last minute. I believe the industry lives with an unacceptable amount of manual intervention with legacy systems -- intervention that creates possibility of error.

Turner Broadcasting, in trying to work out the problems, had an independent audit done on 1,850 units. The total number of units improperly invoiced equaled about one-half of one percent of the total units audited -- an important amount, yet small in the context of the size and complexity of the process.

Still, this is an area where there must be zero defects, even in the clerical area where mistakes have caused the problem.

We have every hope and belief that the cable industry, by working with the buying industry, will be able to bring the systems and processes to such a point.

Jon Mandel

Co-Managing Director

Chief Negotiating Officer

MediaCom

New York

Clueless-train

Whatever the guys who wrote "The Cluetrain Manifesto" are smoking, I'd sure love some ("Catching the `Cluetrain,' " AA, March 13). They seem to think that the Web is becoming a New Age church and that they are the high priests of this new religion. Unfortunately, silly facts get in their way.

Markets are not conversations, they are markets where consumers want to buy or sell things as quickly as possible. "One-click" shopping is where the action is, not dialogue.

Every dot-com company worth its salt is desperate to hire an ad agency to tell people that they exist and do so using "traditional media." Clearly, these dot-com companies must think that on-line markets watch TV.

Advertising is not only booming because of the Web, it is leading the Web in directions where it wants to go. Perhaps these guys should read a book or take a course in integrated marketing communications; or haven't they heard.

In fact, the dot-com marketplace is behaving in a very traditional fashion. The big fish are swallowing up the small fish (either in size or capitalization) and trying to drive out all others.

In the end game, the "millions of threads" on the Web will be connected to Amazon.com or AOL/Time Warner or some other big player.

The laws of the marketplace from magazines to radio to TV to the Web and whatever comes next vary only slightly. Advertising has and will stay viable through all media (it pays for most of it) and people (even techies) are not immune to it.

Bruce Meyers

Marketing consultant

New York

Corrections

* In Adages (March 20, P. 8), UniWorld Group, New York, created the Burger King Corp. radio spot that drew criticism from the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

* In "AOL courts the at-work crowd" (March 13, P. 56), it was correctly reported that Media Metrix data show that Netcenter.com had 347,000 unique visitors in January. The story should have noted most Netcenter traffic comes through www.netscape.com, which goes directly to the Netcenter page; www.netscape.com in January drew 22.8 million unique visitors, according to Media Metrix.

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