WebMD asks: Is it me, Doc, or are everyone's ad sales looking a bit pasty?

WebMD, an operator of health websites, cut the forecast it offered investors for 2008 sales to reflect a "a recent shift toward shorter term buying commitments in certain of its customers' consumer advertising purchases." What we want to know: Is this an ailment plaguing just WebMD, or something catching? A Madison Avenue source gives us her diagnosis.

It may be a WebMD problem. Sure, the industry is bracing [for a recession]. But our clients in particular are increasing their spend. We're not seeing that kind of worry. WebMD tends to strong arm people in very large deals that can't be canceled. That's not the way online works. Also, WebMD tends to circumvent the agencies and go straight to the client.
In other words, WebMD is just getting its comeuppance — and using economic fears as an excuse.