I have a confession to make. Ninety-five percent of the printed media kits I receive go right on top of the pile. They collect dust. They go out of date. They contain lots of statistics and press releases that I couldn't read in a million years. So where, you ask, does a media planner like me go for information?
Well, aside from going directly to the media reps, I go to the site's online media kit. Online media kits are helpful for a number of reasons:
They're usually up to date.
They can be interactive -- with live demos, examples, and searches.
The contact information is usually a click away.
They make it easy to get information in a hurry.
Recently, I performed an experiment for one of our clients who is developing an online media kit: I visited several random media kits, and I wrote down what I liked about them and what I thought could be improved. The final result was this list of "golden rules" for creating an online media kit:
Make your media kit easy to find. The standard practice is to include a link at the bottom of the homepage (or as a side frame) that says "Advertise" or "Media Kit."
Keep the media kit simple. Stick to the basics: "Contact Us," "Site Overview," "Audience Profile," "Rates/Specs," "Targeting Options," "Examples/Success Stories," and "FAQs."
Here is an example of a simple, yet effective online media kit [Web page no longer available --Editors, 03.28.2008]. The entire media kit is above the fold in fact, it is all on one page. This makes it easy for a media planner to find what they need quickly.
When naming the sections of your media kit, avoid copy that is vague or unfamiliar. For example, I recently found a media kit with a section called "AdBroadcast." It was devoted to wireless ad opportunities, but it was difficult for me to know that from the headline.
Make the "Contact Us" button clear and above the fold. This area and the rate card are probably the two most important sections of the kit. The best media kits offer a live person's name, phone, and email. If you have several sales contacts, make it clear who the right person to contact is by geography or by ad type.
Offer many different ad options cost-per-click banners, email newsletters, wireless ads, etc. For each option, there should be a clear guarantee of the number of impressions. While many sites guarantee banner impressions, it is sometimes difficult for a media planner to get guarantees for sponsorships, emails, and other "beyond the banner" advertising.
Give a clear explanation of the different kinds of ads and targeting options available. Some advertisers won't know the difference between an email ad, an advertorial, and a sponsorship explain it to them. Offer graphics wherever possible.
"Your Ad Here" really helps a media planner visualize the ad placement on your site. For example, here is a media kit that shows all of the different banner sizes that they offer [Web page no longer available --Editors, 03.28.2008].
Avoid lots of "fluff" about why "we're the best." The best way to speak to a media planner is in numbers for example: your click rates vs. the industry average. As a general rule, the site should speak for itself, and the media kit should serve as a guide for all of the different advertising options available.
Put the rate card up front. Many times, this is the only thing that a media planner cares to see. (Some sites deliberately try to hide their rates this is a major no-no.) Offer different rates depending upon the volume of the buy and include the "fine print" at the bottom whether prices are "net" or "gross," billing/cancellation policies, ad serving policies, and so on. Finally, make sure the rate card (and other areas of the media kit) can be easily printed, preferably in a single click.
Present case studies and make sure to include visuals wherever possible. Quantify your case studies in terms of click rates, and (even better) in terms of results beyond the click, such as final sales or registrations.
For sites that often sell out of inventory it would be nice to have instant access to that month's availability. I've never seen this done before (maybe it's too difficult to keep updated), but it would make a planner's life easier.
Give a quick demographic overview of your audience with a pie chart or visuals. Take it a step further by offering in-depth audience profiles, average time spent on the site, @Plan statistical data, etc. This is useful information that can help offer justification for the buy.
Offer a "Latest and Greatest" section like this one [Web page no longer available --Editors, 03.28.2008]. A section like this keeps the media kit interesting if you've seen it before. This idea could be expanded upon to include an area called "fire sale" or "hot deals" for inventory that you're trying to move in a hurry. This is a great way to keep media planners returning to your site on a regular basis.
In conclusion, remember that media planners are a busy bunch. The goal of a media kit should be to save them time. Probably the worst thing you can do with an online media kit is to offer no information about advertising opportunities, and instead, to provide a lengthy form to fill out and then wait several days for a response.
Media planners simply don't have time to wait; the information should be right there at their fingertips. Make your media kit a TOOL for planners to quickly gather the information they need, and they'll thank you for it in media dollars.
Michael Aaron is Online Marketing Manager of M2K in Austin, TX. The agency specializes in online advertising, Web site development, e-commerce solutions, and direct marketing, both online and offline. Michael's primary duties at M2K include buying media, assembling media plans, and managing M2K's ROI reporting and campaign optimization services. He also helps manage M2K's own email newsletter, "The Click."