5 Things Regional Companies Need to Know When Selecting A Media Buying Agency

A regional company should ask tough questions before partnering with a media buying agency.

With the vast number of media options available, it has become increasingly difficult for any regional company to properly execute successful media campaigns on their own without the additional expertise of an external buying agency.

Great agencies constantly vet new opportunities, continue their education quarterly and have multi-market experience that your internal team may not have. The question isn’t whether your company can benefit from an outside agency but rather how to choose the right buying agency to make your media partner.

An experienced media agency will follow a very detailed structure when it comes to executing media plans. When you are considering a media buying partner, make sure their processes include these 5 critical steps of media buying:

1). Intricate Market & Competition Analysis

As part of the development of a media plan, an agency should insist on getting to know your business and the brand itself. Proper media planning does not exist in a bubble and a great media partner will insist on putting together an informed media strategy before implementing any buying. This should begin with a strategic look at your goals for the campaign. This portion of the strategy should also include a review of the business environment such as; sales, distribution, competition, previous advertising campaigns and the current business climate of the industry. The best agencies will dig so deep that at first glance their questions may seem to be irrelevant. If they’re any good, their reasons for asking these questions will become apparent and mind opening.

2). They Understand Your Bottom Line

The best media planners will want to understand the full details of the finances. The basics that need to be discussed within the marketing review include:

•Profit margins
•The breakeven point of the program
•Length of the sales cycle
•Seasonality of purchases
•Customer loyalty value
•The benefit of adding new customers versus trading transactions with existing customers

Armed with this information, your media partner can create a monetary plan that generates a positive ROI. This will not only grow your business but also help to boost your bottom line and fuel future media buys.

3). They Evaluate All Options to Create the Proper Media Mix

As the variety of media choices continues to expand, the art of media buying becomes more challenging. The right media to buy and when to buy it, has become just as important as why you buy it. Choosing the wrong media strategy will waste valuable marketing budgets. Professional media buyers understand value over price. While good agencies are tenacious negotiators, they also know that it doesn’t matter how inexpensive the media is if it doesn’t effectively reach your targeted audience.
Matching up targeted research to the proper media mix is the key to every media program. Always ask your media buying agency:

•How they construct the proper media mix
•What sources of information do they use for analysis
•What other experience and results have they derived from prior media mixes
•What specific examples of success can they show you, ask for names and numbers

4). They’re Proven Negotiators
Every media buyer will tell you they negotiate the best price, but excellent negotiation isn’t only about the pricing, it’s about placement as well.
Don’t be fooled by promises of the best rates. The best media buyers negotiate with the objective of delivering both the best price and best value for that price, during the best times, seasons and locations.

Media outlets will offer very low rates on their worst inventory and some agencies, rather than taking the time to negotiate better rates for more valuable placements will blend in those media options to bring down the overall CPM. This does you very little good.

A good test to know how well a media agency negotiates is to give them a sample market to demonstrate their buying capabilities or ask to see a prior buy from another company they represented in your market or an industry, like yours.

5). Service, Ethics & Transparency

This might seem like a no brainer. Who doesn’t want their media budget handled properly? But managing your company’s money with ethics involves a commitment on the part of the media agency and their campaign execution.

Do their media buyers take the extra time to set up orders that clearly layout all details of your buys? Example: If it’s broadcast TV, spots should be purchased by day, time and program, not as rotators with no specific audience, unless you specifically request that they buy in that manner. What is their makegood process? Make goods should only be considered if they deliver equal or better value than the original unit ordered and missed. Do they share copies of all contracts with you?

What detail goes into their traffic reconciliations? What type of contract and invoicing proof do they supply to you? Are they willing to open-up your buy and show you everything, including a full audit by your staff?

More importantly, have they ever offered any of their other clients a refund for makegoods or missed units? Ask them for a few names and proof. Unless they pay too much or have a lackadaisical traffic department, it’s inevitable they have some of your money lying on the table. Will you receive a refund? You should have!

Selecting a great media buying agency isn’t an easy task, but if you do it properly, they will probably pay for themselves in a very short time.

Author: Frank Gussoni

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