MediaMedia BuyingAvoid Haphazard Media Buying

Avoid Haphazard Media Buying

Ensure you reach the right audience and deliver on time -- even when marketing under the gun.

One of the advantages of interactive advertising (and a significant contributor to this industry’s success) is the Internet’s capacity to facilitate marketing campaigns with little or no advanced notice.

Do low registration numbers on a contest that’s about to end force you to do a final push for sign-ups? Has an unplanned product sale put your business in need of an impromptu promotional campaign? An online marketer can take your offer live in a matter of days, from conceptualizing and developing ads to finding available ad inventory in your price range. The medium lends itself well to marketing spontaneity. That’s something advertisers appreciate and employ.

Ironically, what sparks marketers’ accolades is also the subject of criticism from the same group. Advertisers have come to expect so much, so fast, the people responsible for realizing their objectives can easily become overwhelmed. Haphazard media buying is one possible result. That can make for very substandard campaign results.

As an interactive media buyer, I often faced such situations. A client email would materialize in my inbox requesting immediate help. I’d call in a favor from a sales rep or publisher who I’d formerly graced with numerous buys or sizeable budgets. Knowing he might be able to locate some inventory and put by-the-book aside (if only for a moment), it was a sure way to ensure fast turnaround for the campaign at hand.

Whether the placement would successfully reach the client’s target audience, or the campaign would deliver on time, was never a sure thing. That’s a dangerous gamble for the time-sensitive promotions synonymous with spontaneous campaigns. Beggars can’t be choosers, but buyers should reflect long and hard before signing away success with an impulsive campaign.

Keep Bio Sheets Handy

When time is short, snatching any ad inventory you can get is tempting, whether factors like audience profile are in line with your client’s goals or not. If you have a list of site contacts who owe you a turn, keep a brief profile of their properties on hand. You need the kind of general info you would have gathered planning previous campaigns. Bio sheets might include the general demographic and psychographic nature of a site’s audience; an overview of results you experienced with past campaigns on the site; and a list of the site’s other clients (a good litmus test).

Keeping such data accessible saves time and helps avoid mistakes when you are foraging for inventory, can’t quite remember which site has the audience metrics you’re after, and don’t have a spare half hour to call them. Buyers must always remember their primary responsibility to clients: to exercise their expertise locating the right placements. Your services aren’t retained because you can dial a phone and place a random order, pizza-style.

Do the Math

At one time or another, we’ve all taken the heat for a campaign delivering way behind schedule. This isn’t just a problem for time-sensitive campaigns, but it certainly escalates under those conditions. It can be easily avoided.

When making a buy, gather enough data from a site to assess monthly, weekly, even daily impression delivery. This is especially vital for CPC campaigns, which frequently run beyond their end date when sites are saturating pages with impressions to generate the necessary response.

An erroneous impression count from a sales rep is usually either the result of her impractical optimism or an attempt to secure a buy at any cost. To protect yourself and your client’s campaign, spread the budget between several sites. You’ll increase your chances of timely delivery. It doesn’t hurt to amend site contracts to include a sizeable discount should the campaign run long. Most sales reps don’t need more motivation than that to provide an accurate estimate and to see to it the campaign finishes on time.

As spontaneous buying becomes more common, buyers must ensure they’re prepared for the dangers that accompany off-the-cuff campaigns. A stellar performance under strenuous circumstances helps secure more business in the future.

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