When you’re selling software, you want to expose a tallying workflow in real time. But deal cycles in ad media tend to be slow. Media buyers plan purchases with a set budget in advance. These are big buying decisions, and they take deliberation.
The media planning cycle
Big branding campaigns usually last for less than three months. Think about that. For a brand, three months is the blink of an eye. Then think about what it means to run a business and how much time it takes to plan and execute that kind of campaign. In some cases, it can take as long as 18 months. That’s a long period of planning and a short time to produce results.
With such a tight timeline for a campaign and any needed in-flight optimization, there’s not much margin for error. That makes media buyers nervous, so they’ll often give their friends the first shot at running the campaign. If you’re a website looking to win some of those campaign dollars, that puts you at a disadvantage.
Finding the audience sweet spot
As a media salesperson, your best bet for winning big branding campaigns is to ensure the brands you want to attract have a target audience with a significant presence on your site.
The challenge of proving you have the right audience will depend on what kind of publisher you are—and how deep your audience analytics solution can go.
If you’re big
If you’re at a giant media company, like Time or Gannett, account teams for major advertisers will like your ability to scale campaigns. On its face, this may sound great for you. But the key to growing your book of business is also finding opportunities outside of the big auto and consumer packaged goods advertisers. Remember, their account teams are set up to go toe to toe in deal negotiations and win the best rates from you.
The good news is that smaller advertisers in areas like B2B, consumer electronics, and fashion will be more likely to pay you high CPMs. Especially if you prove you can increase engagement with their specific target audiences.
If you’re small
If you’re a niche media company that’s just beginning to monetize, your best bet for breaking new business is to go after account teams who will view your content as a natural fit for their brand. Be aware, though. They’ll invite you to come in and present but will be quick to demand proof you can deliver a lot of impressions to their specific target audience.
The key to winning in both of these situations is to have a credible way to scale audience measurement across your ad properties. It’s also important for your audience analytics to be deep and detailed enough to prove they fit with the brand you’re pitching — no matter how specific their audience profile happens to be.
Produce a good media plan
Once you’ve successfully pitched the quality and fit of your audience to an account team that’s in the middle of its planning cycle, the next hurdle is selling a media plan that meets the requirements the team is looking for.
In all honesty, the account team you’re working with may not be super helpful here. It’s common for account teams to be given confusing requirements from others at the agency. Oftentimes, those requirements will contradict one another or have undocumented needs attached.
Here’s where things can go haywire
As an example, let’s say the account team has asked for a programmatic execution for a campaign with high viewability goals. Given that task, your product team prioritizes the creation of standard-sized banner ads. These are the most common ad units for programmatic deals and also tend to be the most viewable units on pages that get a lot of traffic. High viewability, right? Win, win.
Instead, though, the account team unexpectedly changes the deal to focus on higher-priced units like video. The preparation your product team has done doesn’t fit this focus. If you sign a deal like this without taking the time to rethink, you risk not delivering.
If you don’t deliver, you’ll have to give the money back to the agency. Not only do you lose the money, but now you’re responsible for your new customer working until 11pm to redo their media plan — all because you didn’t see their change of focus coming. Not great for building a long-term relationship.
Take time to work through the media plan
To make sure the situation described above doesn’t happen, it’s a good idea to go through all of the account team’s media buying requirements. Do it with them. Do it in detail. Double-check anything they seem unsure of with the people who gave them the requirements. Clarify.
It may take extra time, but once you run the campaign and start reporting on positive results, that account team will remember the service you provided and the results you delivered. That’s relationship gold, with recurring revenue attached.