Makegood, Shmakegood

On the Internet, the concept of the makegood leaves a lot to be desired. In traditional media, a makegood provides a mechanism for both correcting a “short” on media delivery and discouraging media vehicles from perpetrating the short in the first place.

In print, for instance, if an ad goes out to fewer people than the guaranteed circulation, the publication will give the advertiser another placement. This means the advertiser usually gets a great deal more exposure than was first purchased. This offsets the hassle of having to deal with the discrepancy.

In the online world, a makegood can be granted in a more surgically precise way. If a campaign fails to meet the desired level of exposure by 1,438 impressions, then a makegood buy can be constructed that will go out to 1,438 people.

Meanwhile, all the effort going into the tracking of the discrepancy and the subsequent makegood buy costs the agency time and money that it and the client will never recover.

The situation has gotten to the point that many agencies aren’t even keeping very good track of discrepancies for fear that they will have to waste money with makegood buys.

Most media contracts remain a little vague about what precisely will happen in the event of a discrepancy. When one does occur, the buyer and seller typically have to renegotiate to determine agreed-upon terms of the makegood.

I suggest making more explicit, clear terms in the initial insertion order. Further, I suggest that a slightly punitive element be added to the makegoods. For instance, “In the event of a discrepancy, a subsequent makegood buy will be made for 25 percent more impressions than were short in the initial performance reports. In no event will the makegood contain fewer than 100,000 impressions.”

This ensures that the site’s feet will be to the fire on the initial delivery. That initial delivery is important to marketers, who are often attempting to tightly time their flighting among sites and other media.

I remember my disappointment when we did one of the first sponsored chats for our Sprint client back at J. Walter Thompson. A good percentage of the media we purchased to promote the chat wound up being delivered after the chat took place. The penalties were too minimal for the sites to worry too much about timely delivery.

Agencies need to remember that they have a fiduciary responsibility to the client to pursue all possible discrepancies. I wouldn’t be surprised if, failing to provide due diligence of discrepancies, an agency could be held financially accountable for the difference.

And to make this pursuit of discrepancies worthwhile, the terms of contracts need to provide for makegoods of sufficient scale.

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