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Why Are Brand Media Buyers So Damn Lazy?

  |  July 11, 2011   |  Comments

Three major issues with media buyers.

I've been fortunate enough in my 12 years in this industry to have worked in direct response, brand, and then back in direct response. One thing I have always noticed that has intrigued me is that while direct response and performance-based media buyers in general work their virtual tuchuses off, brand buyers seem to be less motivated to do their job. I'm pretty sure that most agencies don't want to hear this, and most likely neither do their clients. However, if you are one of those people who have been trying to sell media in the last umpteen years, you know exactly what I am talking about. Since I'm no longer selling media (please delete this column if I open another network in the future), I feel that it's alright to reveal the truth that so many sales people already know in this industry: brand media buyers are really damn lazy.

We've all had this conversation at all the events with someone, especially if we are in sales. It goes something like "No matter what, I can't seem to get into this agency and present my property/network/new targeting solution. They are just booking all their media with AOL/Google/Turner…without looking at any other possibilities." If you aren't nodding your head in affirmation, it's probably because you are at one of the few major networks or properties that all the media buyers rush to and you love that you barely have to work anymore to get their attention. It took me a while to wonder about the reasons for this, and I decided the following:

  1. "Reach" is way too important a word. Agencies need to spend their money, so what better idea than to spend it on some network - some large property that has huge "reach." It's easy; the forms are basically already filled out, so why not just send the money where you sent it last quarter? Doesn't really matter if you are paying three times the amount what a direct response media buyer pushing the sales person would get. You are getting "reach." On top of that, reach often gives substantial discounts, lowers the eCPM, and who really cares about "results" for brand advertising, right?
  2. Media buyers aren't paid enough to care. Most barely make enough money when they start to afford a closet in NYC, let alone live a normal life. Yet they often control multi-million dollar budgets and will choose the company that gives them the best extra benefits. That means, whoever throws the best parties, whoever has the hottest sales women, and more than likely, whoever will hire them after they leave their low-paying job.
  3. No one wants to grow up to be a media buyer. The smart people build technology, get into sales, and create products. The kids who aren't sure what they want to do in the advertising industry become media buyers. It's sort of the limbo of the interactive advertising industry, where college kids get tested. In fact, many media buyers are even unpaid interns, learning copying and coffee skills while spending some Fortune 500 company's budget.

There are two types of responses that this column is going to get from media buyers. The first being the media buyer who is saying, "This isn't me. I work hard for my job; my agency really pushes to find good sources of media." Yes, there are exceptions to the rule and there are some great agencies out there that really work for their clients. The second type of media buyer is the one who is cringing reading this, because it means that they are worried their boss or client will ask them about "reach" and why exactly they are booked on AOL every single quarter.



Pace Lattin

Pace Lattin has been working in interactive advertising since its inception. From being a co-owner of the company that sold advertising in ClickZ before the turn of the century to founding a major interactive advertising publication, he has been involved with all aspects of the interactive advertising industry. He is currently the executive director of the Executive Council of Performance Marketing, an industry organization that represents over 100 C-level executives. 

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