5 Media Topics Regional Companies Should Discuss When Interviewing Agencies

Important points mid-market companies should discuss when interviewing new media buying agencies.

Smart media buying can help you get more advertising exposure. But when you are buying media on your own or through an agency, how do you know if you’re getting the best value at the lowest price?
Since advertising dollars are usually a substantial and necessary part of any business’ budget, you need to understand what to look for when buying traditional or digital media. Unfortunately, most regional companies don’t understand how to effectively leverage their dollars and secure better value.

1). Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate.
Unless a specific placement is critical to your campaign never pay rate! Media buys in every medium are nearly always negotiable, no matter what an AE might tell you: Keep in mind media outlets almost always have inventory available. They are rarely sold out and AE’s never quit calling on perspective customers. For these reasons alone, you can always negotiate better rates, better schedules and better times. You have the leverage on your side.

2). Supply and Demand
This theory also applies to media buying. If there is high demand in a market for one station, or maybe one-day part (like AM Drive), then it will be more difficult to negotiate favorable rates. It’s not impossible, you just might have to work a little harder. The same is true during political elections or unique events such as the Olympics, March Madness or the Super Bowl. The higher the demand, the less leverage you will have but it’s still possible to work around.
When demand is high an outlet may be over confident and believe you need to buy them. But never fear because any outlet can be effectively bought around. So, if you understand effective buying and never lose sight of your campaign’s objectives you’ll still reach your target audience and may send a message to the over confident AE all at the same time.

3). Added Value bonuses aren’t usually a value.
Since commissions have been deeply cut many agencies don’t work very hard to negotiate better rates these days. Most use inexperienced staffers to negotiate on behalf of their clients.
Typically, the agency reps request a discount of at least 10% and/or added value. However, to lower their cpp or cpm and tout their accomplishments to the client an agency often will press the outlet for added value. If your AE or agency makes a bigger deal about added value bonus rather than the value of the media schedule, something is seriously wrong. Keep in mind unless contractually obligated added value may never run. That’s the industry standard, so don’t count on it unless it’s guaranteed in writing.

4). Buy based on ratings, not programs.
A lot of media budgets are ineffective because clients often inflict their own biases on the agency to make their buying decisions. Unfortunately, most media agencies don’t have the nerve it takes to explain to their client why it may be an ill-informed decision. Good agencies know their stuff and are not only the buying and monitoring arm but highly skilled consultants. If they aren’t tapped for their knowledge, then both the client and agency maybe big losers. So, follow the facts, data and the ratings, not personal likes and dislikes. Let the information take you where you need to go. In the end branding and sales lift is the winning combination and the true goal isn’t it?

5). If your budget is not sufficient enough for your advertising to have an impact, don’t advertise.
You wouldn’t take a one-hundred-dollar bill from your wallet to light a campfire, would you? If your reach and frequency isn’t adequate you might as well be doing just that. Remember the average consumer is now inundated by thousands of ads every day. It takes a lot of nerve and honesty by your agency but when your budget isn’t adequate to accomplish all your goals then you need to scale back your objectives, narrow your media mix or curtail the buy entirely. It’s tough to turn away money but if your agency is looking out for your best interest and wants to build a long term lasting relationship with you then they need to advise you properly, not just spend your money.
Mid-market companies should recall these tips when interviewing a media agency. When the schedule effectively balances the number of gross rating points, frequency, and targeted consumer reach, to meet the standards of your industry, you will be sure to have an effective media schedule and the best value for your money.

Author: Frank Gussoni

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