In an ever-changing market, it is critical now more than ever for businesses to not only be strategic in how they look at their media plans but also be strategic in how they are buying those planned tactics. As budgets continue to get tighter and more scrutinized, businesses need to make the most out of the investment, and at the same time ensure they are protected and in compliance with all the regulations. Following is a list of top 5 best practices when buying media:
It is impossible to buy media effectively or strategically without first understanding the needs and expectations of the client. It is just as critical to establishing buying goals and KPIs as it is for the media planner to establish brand marketing objectives.
It is imperative to have ongoing discussions to ensure compliance and alignment with client expectations, and even more critical that these requirements are effectively communicated and jointly reinforced to the supplier by all client agencies. Does the client require basi-level data reporting? What is their policy regarding placement near competitor advertisements? Perhaps the client has sensitivity around message adjacency?
1. Setting Goals and Understanding Client Expectations
These are all types of questions businesses should expect their media buyer to be aware of, most importantly so they can set the right expectation with the supplier community and contractually protect the client.
2. Channel Consolidation
When purchasing media, businesses should consider the benefits of multi-channel media aggregation. Consolidating media buys across all channels - such as print, targeted offline, convention, digital, reprints and textbooks - creates efficiencies and savings for several reasons. First, it offers more leverage with suppliers to be able to negotiate the best possible rate. Second, the buying partner is then in full view of the buys across the brand and is, therefore, able to find additional savings such as a discounted rate for buying digital and print from a particular publisher. And third, by working across all media the buying organization is able to decrease the client-side man-hours in the paperwork that is the natural by-product of media buying, including invoices that can number in the hundreds or even thousands.
Often planning agencies are negotiating on behalf of their clients at the brand level, however, when agencies are in isolation by brand, they are not privy to the full scope of the clients’ volume. Consider this: Brand A in the certain category of a business is about to invest in 10 buys in a particular magazine, published by X Publishing Company. At the same company, Brand B of the same business is about to buy a month of banner ads on another magazine and 20 emails from the same publisher X Publishing Company. Separately, each brand might pay one rate, but by combining them, a buying agency with AOR status can consolidate these cross-brand, cross-channel media buys to ensure the client is paying at the best possible corporate rate. All of this is happening across one MSA, one PO, and one happy client with less paperwork and ultimately reducing the hourly fees that are paid to an agency for the buying execution.
Scenario: Is a user more valuable based on time of day, or device?
We believe a best practice in procuring custom media is moving toward a Cost per Acquisition/Engagement/Click (CPA/CPC/CPE) pricing model versus the standard
Cost per Thousand (CPM) model, which is still the most prevalent method for contracting these types of buys. This alternative ensures a client is only investing their budget into valuable programs that are actually delivering engagements and paying based on a guaranteed action, engagement or interaction versus a view.
Internet Advertising Bureau defines an impression as “viewable” if 50% of an ad appears within a browser for one second. Recent data suggests that only less than half of all impressions are actually considered viewable. Without using ad verification technology to ensure that an ad is viewable, budget can be wasted by paying for impressions that are never actually seen by the target audience.
Based on current CMI/Compas data, we are seeing CPA/CPC/CPE based contracts account for approximately 18% of all digital media buys. This has remained relatively consistent looking back over the past several years. However, we are projecting that this will continue to increase year on year as these types of buys are perceived to be more measurable and accountable.
Multi-Channel Ad Verification
Ad verification services should be included as a standard offering, as it not only ensures paid media has run, but also that it is reaching intended audiences.
DigitalMedia verification should include:
• Verifying impressions based on 3rd party ad serving reports • Geo-targeting – or verifying impressions are served to national audiences only unless otherwise specified • Monitoring and preventing fraudulent activity (i.e. human traffic vs. BOT) • Placement verification – ensuring all ads are appearing next to relevant and approved content based on negative keywords, away from user-generated content, etc.
While businesses continues to allocate more and more funds toward digital media, verification should not be limited to only this channel. Ad auditing and verification are important not only to confirm that clients’ ads are running properly for financial investment purposes but also to ensure all compliance.
Suppliers should be required to produce checking copies of their print publications to ensure an ad is present and accurately positioned based on contracted instructions. For example, the appropriate number of pages away from competitive ads, prescribing information is immediately following the creative asset, or ad layout is positioned in the same manner as approved by authorities and client’s internal legal review.
Suppliers should also be providing verification that custom offline or other alternative media programs have launched through samples, pictures, performance metrics, etc. As standard, these auditing materials should be provided prior to the program being paid in full to the supplier.
Clients should expect their buying partner to provide these efficiencies and benefits as well as the highest level of customer service. The buying organization should ensure that the client is buying the most cost-efficient media, as well as that all media that is purchased is reviewed, benchmarked, protected and verified. Overall, the client should expect their buying partner not just to execute well, but to be strategic enough to follow best practices and find efficiencies that help deliver higher ROI.