Regional Companies Beware of Automated Reconciliations Alone

Agencies that only use automated traffic systems for reconciliations may be losing clients money, lots of it.

Media buying is the strategic part of advertising. It’s not as sexy as the creative process. Regional and mid-market companies usually spend months creating the content and laying out the message but tend to invest less time planning ad placements and even less time evaluating the actual delivery details once the buy is completed.

Trafficking is tedious work. Ensuring that every ad purchased is delivered as promised is a painstaking process and takes a special kind of agency to handle the job correctly. Over the years, the management of ad delivery has become very automated. There are several systems created solely to track contract details and delivery results and “match” for discrepancies.

However, like any form of technology, they don’t always work all the time. So, what happens when an ad runs incorrectly or gets missed? Does the trafficker catch it with the use of these systems? Maybe! When they catch it, they typically alert the media outlet of the discrepancy and request a “make good”.

Hopefully, then the ad is re-run correctly and all is made right with the campaign. Unfortunately, often the original ad isn’t rerun correctly. Eventually it is forgotten and never gets the audience the client requested and was charged for. While one mistake may not seem like a huge issue, this happens more than most advertisers would think. When a regional company’s campaign is set to run hundreds or even thousands of ads, these misfired ads really start to pile up.

This scenario only accounts for the mistakes that are caught by the systems. There are situations when an ad will slip through these systems as “running correctly” when in fact it shouldn’t be acceptable. Example: You are scheduled to air in a first run placement in a highly rated young adult prime time show (Thursday 8 – 8:30pm) but the show’s time slot changes (Tuesdays 8:30 – 9pm) The ad still runs in the originally designated position but is no longer airing during that particular show ordered and airs in an older audience show. Typically, the software will miss this mistake.

When made often, this mistake can cost an advertiser dearly. If an automated system is the only means being used for checks and balances, you can bet that a portion of the ads are being run incorrectly. Relying on a totally automated system only benefits the media outlets and the agencies that choose to use them since they both get paid on the delivery of the ads, even when not correct. To be sure that an advertiser gets what they’ve rightfully contracted and are paying for, regional and mid-market companies should have an agency that utilizes at least another checkpoint and a second set of eyes to evaluate delivery.

Author: Frank Gussoni

President & Founder of A3 media. We're Type A. We transform media from an expense into a smart investment.