Which Publishers Get Highest ‘Satisfaction Ratings From Marketers, Agencies

The continuing migration of audiences and ad dollars to digital has helped serve as a balm against growing economic fears that have resulted in downward revisions for total spending forecasts. But one other thing may be helping online: better, clearer relationships between the sell side and the buy side, according to a survey of 200 agencies and marketers by ad industry analyst Jack Myers.

This year, in his look at satisfaction ratings of 80 online ad sales organizations, a little more than 50 percent of clients said that they’ve been pleased with their dealings with sellers. While that doesn’t sound so great, Myers said that last year, only 30 percent of survey participants expressed satisfaction with their sell-side counterparts.

Myers’ full report will be released in the coming days — a preview is in this video basically suggests that even with the rise of ad exchange platforms that largely boil down the art of buying and selling media to the science of algorithms, the personal touch is what counts, especially in the area of premium ad sales. That’s an argument major publishers have been trying to make in the face of a talk about “platforms” such as DSPs, DMPs, SSPs and so on.

The company respondents say gives the best online sales satisfaction? Google (NSDQ: GOOG). Beyond the search giant, which has assiduously courted the buy side as it looked to be seen as less of a “frenemy” over the past two years, Pandora (NYSE: P), Vevo Hulu and Fox (NSDQ: NWS) Interactive Media’s video game and entertainment unit IGN are viewed as examples of good salesmanship cited by marketers and agencies in Myers report.

Myers also looked at what newspapers and TV networks have the best match in terms of satisfying advertisers on both sides of the digital and traditional sales divide and found that among 30 “legacy media brands,” MTV Network’s Nickelodeon, Wall St. Journal, NBC (NSDQ: CMCSA) Universal’s Weather Channel, New York Times and Time (NYSE: TWX) Warner’s Turner Broadcasting were regarded the highest.

In terms of the quality of customer service — such as responsiveness — Myers’ study found a diverse “pocket of strength” in a mix of web-only and traditional media businesses including LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD), Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (NYSE: MSO), The Washington Post (NYSE: WPO) Digital, Forbes, Blip.tv, BrightRoll and Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN), which is shaping up as a challenger in the display space.

In a conversation, Myers wouldn’t release the scores of the various companies, beyond saying that those companies had satisfaction rates of above 65 percent. The brands that delivered less than desired satisfaction tended to be ones associated with the ad network model or ones that didn’t have any offline presence or connection, Myers said. Two notable exceptions in the ad tech space that garnered high marks from clients were ContextWeb and Undertone.

“I was surprised that we didn’t see a surge of support for hot brands: Facebook, Twitter, Specific Media,” Myers said.

Both AOL (NYSE: AOL) and Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) have room for improvement, but the drop off in satisfaction wasn’t precipitous, he said. Their problem, and perhaps the problem of portals in general when compared to more narrowly-targeted sites, is that “they don’t share the same focus as Hulu, Vevo or Pandora,” Myers said.