in Perspectives

Direct Advertising: What’s Important to Agencies

By Sean Kilcullen

As a publisher, you likely spend the bulk of your time and attention working to create valuable content in hopes of building an engaged community. Maybe you’ve just hired one of the top content creators on the east coast or possibly convinced that best-selling journalist to join your team, or maybe you’ve even signed a few community managers to take your engagement to the next level.

While content and a loyal community are essential components of a thriving publishing business, there’s a third piece of the puzzle that many publishers often ignore.

That piece? Direct advertising.

Of course, as a publishing business, you can’t survive on community or content alone. You must have a proper monetization plan in place so you can continue to grow. When you work with agencies on potential partnerships, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of winning the deal, all by understanding what exactly they’re looking for.

While we go into much more detail in our guide on winning sales RFPs, here are a few tips to help you impress those agencies and stand out from the crowd.

Make the agency look good

When an agency is looking to partner with you on behalf of a brand, its reputation is at stake. Just as a romantic partner probably wouldn’t introduce you to family and friends if you were unreliable, the same goes for agencies.

The more you can demonstrate a history of delivering for other partners in the past, the better the agency will feel about a potential partnership:

  • Were your previous partnerships successful?
  • Were you able to work well with others in previous deals?
  • Can you share past real-world results with the agency?

The more you can do to ensure you are a safe and reliable bet — through previous case studies, metrics, or word of mouth — the better your chance of getting a deal.

Be as detailed as possible

Another mistake many publishers make is only sharing high-level metrics when responding to an agency’s ad sales RFP. While sharing basic metrics is certainly better than sharing none, always try to dig deeper and be as specific as possible.

Not a winner: “Each month we receive over 250,000 monthly visits with 2:35 min average time spent for each reader.

Winner: “In addition to receiving over 100,000 unique monthly viewers each month (65% of that readership being female), we also have an incredibly engaged Pinterest and Facebook channel that has shown to reliably convert a reader to purchase a product similar to yours one out of every 42 visits.”

Which example will the agency most likely say yes to?

Tell the truth, don’t exaggerate

As stated in the example above, it’s crucial you provide the agency as much detail as possible according to the metrics and demographics you have on hand. While it’s always valuable to position yourself in the best light, never do that at the cost of exaggerating or being misleading (intentionally or not).

Making your numbers look better than they are might land you that coveted deal, but 100 times out 100, the partnership will not end on a positive note. Of course, beyond being blatantly dishonest (which you should never do) — even an unintentional exaggeration can have negative consequences. Have multiple people on your team review your numbers and positioning to ensure you provide the most accurate picture possible.

How to impress that agency

Having worked with hundreds of publishers, brands, and agencies, we’ve seen what agencies look for when it comes to ad RFPs.

In our Guide to Winning Ad Sales RFPs, we tell you everything you need to know about what agencies are looking for in potential publishing partners and about crafting a converting ad sales RFP.

The Guide to Winning Ad Sales RFPs

Get the PDF