Picking your advertising partners is tough. Not only are there the costs, efficiencies, targeting and creative factors (among others) to consider in evaluating a partner, but now there seems to be another factor making things more complicated. We’ll call it “The Hunger Factor.”
Dot-com fever has significantly altered the ad-buying landscape. Remember what it was like trying to buy outdoor in December? And now, the same phenomenon is affecting Internet ad buying in a similar fashion. No, we’re still not seeing sites that are sold out, but it’s become obvious that certain ad sales organizations could use some help from a manpower perspective.
Almost all new dot-coms could benefit significantly from a partnership or advertising relationship with one of the “big boys.” Investors love to see partnerships, advertising or strategic relationships with the big boys. Timed correctly, an announcement of such a relationship can send a dot-com stock price through the roof. Who wouldn’t want to set up a partnership with a tier-one site?
However, now that everyone wants to run with the big boys, the big boys don’t have the time they once had to consider proposals, put together deals or service accounts. Now, deals that were turned around in two days have become deals that stretch on for weeks or even months. Since agencies and clients are usually the ones with the time constraints, they lose negotiating leverage. Sometimes, they do something rash, like agreeing to something they shouldn’t, in the interest of speeding things up.
What many agencies and clients are neglecting are the tier-two and tier-three players. Sure, a partnership with one of these sites won’t have the same impact with investors that a tier-one player would. Maybe it won’t have the same brand association impact. However, tier-two and -three partners are going to be a lot more hungry for your money than the big boys. Enter “The Hunger Factor.”
We all know that Internet ad campaigns require a lot of attention if they’re going to have a prayer of paying out from an ROI perspective. They also take quite a bit of time to set up to negotiate, get into contract form and traffic. Knowing this, whom would you rather have working with you on a partnership? Would it be the sales rep whose attention is focused on your campaign, or the sales rep who doesn’t have time for you because he’s busy taking orders from the thousands of other dot-coms that are bigger than yours?
Take a closer look at some of the tier-two and -three sites for potential partnerships. Many of them can be great partners. In addition to having more time to deal with you and your concerns, they:
- Tend to grow like weeds.
- Will likely entertain more out-of-the-box ideas.
- Will consider various payment models.
- Have more leeway to negotiate.
It kills me to see so many new companies lining up to do business with the big boys and get treated less than fairly when they get to the front of the line, when there are perfectly good partners for them that would jump at the opportunity to work together. Please do not forget about the other venues out there, and exercise your right to go elsewhere, even if it’s away from the big boys.