No Placements? No Problem!

It’s the start of a new high season for your niche-industry client, and the director of marketing’s heart is set on advertising with one site and one site only — the portal that offers the perfect blend of target audience, appropriate subject matter, user loyalty, and traffic galore. Problem is, he’s not the only one who’s after this site’s prime placements. Like bees to honey, every competitor in the industry is attracted to this ever-popular site, and before you know it, the site is completely booked. In the blink of an eye, you’ve been shut out of promoting your client’s product on the most prominent site in the business.

It’s an issue we media buyers frequently encounter, particularly those of us who work with clients in the business-to-consumer (B2C) construction and renovation industries. Companies in the business of building are largely governed by the calendar year and are slaves to high-season sales and low-season losses. Unlike most advertisers, they don’t have the luxury of flexible online campaign schedules. If they expect to get a share of the kitty, they, too, must strike when the warm weather hits by increasing their market presence. For them, when to advertise is a question of necessity, and encountering a slew of competitors during these popular advertising periods isn’t at all uncommon. Demand swells, supply becomes limited, and site inventory is sought after so aggressively prime placements can sell out completely.

When faced with a situation like this, most media buyers would be tempted to capitulate (one can’t be expected to work miracles, after all!). But before you throw in the towel, consider this: A dearth of placements doesn’t have to mean your campaign is sunk. You can deliver what your client is after, even surpass his expectations, by introducing additional placements to a site that’s at capacity — with the help and approval of the publisher, of course.

Internet marketers long ago realized that online advertising isn’t like traditional media. The differences between them run deep. Take television, for instance. Here, your advertising options are highly limited. Most stations wouldn’t take too kindly to the suggestion of introducing a new ad placement, expressly for the use of your client.

But online, the potential to expand is almost infinite. Publishers create new opportunities by layering ads over content (the concept behind pop-ups and Superstitials), and amalgamating advertising and editorial. When you find yourself thinking a site couldn’t possibly accommodate any more advertising, think again. There’s always room for product promotion online, often without the danger of increased ad clutter.

Before you start making calls to portal publishers demanding nonexistent ad space, take a look at the site you’re interested in and think about it in the context of the advertiser you’re representing. Does the site include a particularly appropriate section that usually features editorial content or in-house tools? Does your client have a unique tool or Web site feature that could be promoted in this space? If so, that’s a good place to start. Publishers producing specialized-market sites are generally more than willing to entertain the addition of advertiser-branded tools that add value to their properties and are of interest to site users (just think of all the branded travel search tools you see on vacation portals around the Web).

Once you’ve formulated a few ideas, offer the publisher a brief written proposal (if you’re on friendly terms with your account manager at the site, skip this step and give her a call instead). The trick to getting new ad placements implemented is to act early, as the approval process on the publisher side can be lengthy. Be sure to present an organized case, and don’t give up too easily. Remember the addition of an ad placement to a publisher’s site translates into increased revenue for the publisher. If you’re determined and emphasize the benefits of your proposal, both the advertiser and publisher can come away winners.

Once a new placement option has been agreed upon, it’s time to negotiate price. If the addition of the proposed placement requires only a minor site adjustment, you shouldn’t be asked to commit to a long-term advertising contract. Ask for traffic statistics relating to the section of the site in which you’ll be positioned, and agree upon a reduced CPM rate or flat fee. Try to secure a guarantee in your contract, such as a minimum number of clicks or conversions, as estimating your return on investment (ROI) on this unprecedented placement will be difficult.

Being an aggressive media buyer isn’t just about effective negotiating, it’s also about seeking out the best possible placements for your clients. If you happen to encounter a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, don’t return to your client empty-handed. Instead create your own placement, and increase your client’s chances for success.

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