For our anniversary this year, I bought my husband  the Beatles Sgt. Peppers 50th Anniversary Edition recordings. Ok, yes, he bought it himself for himself and the anniversary thing was just an excuse, but the point is, it was vinyl. Vinyl, like we used to listen to back in the old days. There is yet another Spiderman movie about to be released – the same Spiderman some of us read about in comic books back in the old days.  The Gong show is coming back – that Chuck Barris production that was so kooky – you got it – back in the old days.

I bring this up because as I sat with a GSM in a major market this week, discussing his inventory woes with limited units and pricing for the market, he shook his head as he said I didn’t understand, it is so different from the old days.  Then he went on to explain that he used to use formulas to raise rates based on sellout and anticipated orders. He then had to look at historicals and pacing – where were they this time last year and what rates clients paid in the past. He even had a different spread sheet in which he could plug in an average rate and expected minutes sold for the rest of the month, and see if he could make budget based on that. And if not, either the rates had to go up or the sellout did! Yup, he shook his head; things are different now.

Because NOW, there are tools in media sales that do things like raise the rates automatically based on supply and demand. He loves my tool because it shows him pacing and historical spending. And you can even see RIGHT THERE if you have enough inventory left to make budget based on the current supply and demand rates, or if you need to adjust those rates. Yes, the future is bright indeed!

The truth of the matter is, the ever-changing world still has some continuity. The ground-breaking Beatles album was made for vinyl, and it sounds different than digital  to music aficionados. We still need superheroes, and can suspend our beliefs enough to embrace Peter Parker’s alter ego. And we need a laugh that isn’t based on tweets, leaks or foreign relations. Media sales still requires calls to advertisers, finding a need, developing a marketing plan, and delivering an audience. And to price those limited units (not a new concept either!), you still have to base your rates on supply and demand, what the market will bear, and historical data.

Good thing we have software to do that instead of relying on a multitude of excel spread sheets, our gut intuition, and the persuasiveness of buyers and our own AEs!

So, let’s tackle the future by raising a glass to the past. As you do, before you jump into pulling a rate card for next month, take a look back 50 years and realize that what was innovative then, is again.