Frank's Take

Boosting Mid-Market Media Buys Through Uncommon Sense

At Times, Transparency Can Be More Meaningful Than Data!

Magnifying glass in hand of a businessman

I’ll be the first to admit, hell I might be the only one willing to admit that there is no perfect media outlet in our industry! Did he just say that? You might be thinking…Does this guy know he owns a media agency? Well, the truth is while I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, I know I own a media agency and I also know how to look out for my clients’ best interests. And by doing the latter, I’m looking out for my best interest also.

There is no perfect media, traditional, digital, or mobile. And none of them have 100% accuracy in their metrics either. TV’s a guess, OOH is a guess and even digital is a guess. Yes, yes, I know they’re all working on making things more accurate and I commend them for that. We need to do that because the clients have this belief that if it’s not 100% accurate or trackable any longer then that medium is worthless. WRONG!

But until you can tell me the audience is sitting on their couch watching my TV spot instead of looking at their phone, visiting the bathroom or the fridge, it’s an estimate. As soon as digital can eliminate all fraud or an ad can look in your eyes and account for your pupils staring at it, even digital ads are not 100%.

However, the hardest part may lie in getting your clients to understand this point. Because they can all tell you why traditional media isn’t as successful as digital but that’s because they don’t understand the digital pitfalls as well and they aren’t as obvious, because the digital DSPs and folks who make their entire livings in digital don’t want to make their problems public.

Case in point. We utilize several digital dashboards in our company and place and monitor our digital buys. We look at everyone of them at least once a day and take a good hard look for issues that we may find. Recently we found three problems with two of our digital partners. At first, they both claimed we were mistaken. Then once we proved to them, we were correct, they tried to throw a fastball by us and give us some mumbo jargon, which made absolutely no sense. So, we kept pressing them and even paid to run our own internal campaign to flush out the truth.

Eventually, we requested conversations with their senior management. In one instance one vendor claimed they had a software glitch, and that we had found it. They claim to have thousands of clients, but also claimed that no one ever bought dayparted the way we did. While I find that unbelievable, I couldn’t disprove it. They sent us a long thank you email stating that because of our efforts they went in and rewrote code for three days to fix the issue. They even went to the length of stating that we helped all their clients because now they will be able to deliver better results for them all. You’re welcome!

The second company finally had to clearly explain what was creating our inaccurate delivery. It was due to system limitations. We have dealt with this company for more than three years and not once did they divulge their short comings until we noticed it. And this limitation is not able to be fixed.

The next day we were entertaining another DSP system. We told them what we had found with our present company, and they smirked and told us that could never happen with their system. So, we continued to press them to further clarify and explain their delivery methods and in the end their system had the identical issues as did our present vendor. So, it really is an industry problem.

The moral of my story is every medium has its positives and its negatives. And a well planned and executed multi-layered campaign will win every time. An exceptionally good agency works hard every day keeping their eye on their client’s welfare. But they need to also convey their knowledge to their clients, because often a client has a preconceived view, and it can be inaccurate, sometimes very inaccurate.

Don’t be afraid to teach them. Keeping them in the dark may make your life easier for a time but in the end when your efforts don’t work, they won’t blame themselves, they will blame you!

An educated client truly makes for a better partner. But remember on this journey, in the end the customer may not always be right, but they always control the checkbook!

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