Please Don't Egg My House

I turn off my computer at the end of the night. It’s somewhere between 6:30 and 7:00 p.m., because that’s what time I always leave work. I walk quietly to the coat rack, put on my jacket and scarf, and slink out the door, being sure that it’s locked. I walk slowly but deliberately down the stairs to the front door of the office building. I step out into the cold and damp night air. I look around to see if anyone is there. Once I’ve determined that the coast is clear, I stride hurriedly to my pick-up, unlock the door, and get in.

Oh no! I forgot to check under the vehicle for explosives, and I don’t have a flashlight to see if the brake lines have been cut. But these are the risks you take when you write op-ed style about online advertising.

I don’t exactly know just how many people read ClickZ, but I got an idea last week when I received email after email in response to last week’s piece, “Attention Sales Staff! Please Read This Before You Call.” I’ve got to say I got more response to last week’s piece than anything I have written to date. And what passion!

First, let me tell you about the positive and supportive missives.

I heard from some readers who were very sympathetic to the plight I described. Some asked that I “write more articles like this.” Some were actually site reps and account execs who thought the piece was not only helpful for themselves, but for other planners and buyers, too, as it reminded them to always be clear with the RFP they send out.

I heard from one guy who actually consults on how to read and write RFPs.

I heard from a rep I’ve talked with before on the phone who said that he appreciated the time constraint media buyers and planners are under and was glad to have something that served as “a good lesson for a newcomer.”

Cooler responses I received were those that suggested I look at things from the “other side of the coin.” Account reps are also time-challenged, and buyers should be more sympathetic. “If you think your time is valuable… so is ours,” stated one reader.

The “gross versus net” issue hit home with a few readers, both buyers and reps, who come from more traditional advertising backgrounds and are used to working with figures that way.

Then there were the contrarian and even vitriolic responses. One guy asked that I “stop [my] damn bitching.” A few heatedly ask that I see things from their point of view. Sending a pre-fab spreadsheet, I was told, was really just asking reps for “column fodder.” (I must admit that this will rank among my favorite turns of phrase.)

And one reader complained that I was reducing sales reps “to a bunch of monkeys.” This reader went on to state that some of the best deals put together for their clients resulted from phone calls, and I was proffering a vision that was borne of a “completely self-absorbed dream world.”

So let me just say to those of you who sympathized, thanks. I didn’t think I was the only one out there who was experiencing this. It is always nice to be affirmed.

To those of you who ask that I see things from the reps’ perspective and were upset that I didn’t represent that perspective, I do hear you and will continue to do so. I understand that many of you are also terribly busy. In no way was my column last week an indictment of the ad sales community; it was merely a look inside a day in the life of an online media planner/buyer during the planning frenzy.

I think that a lot of onus rests at the foot of the client, as one reader suggested. They have unrealistic expectations about how long it takes to get things done, and they want you to try to do it without objectives or a strategy.

In closing, let me leave you all with a few data points that I ask be addressed as part of the standard RFP process. Hopefully, this will be of some use to those of you new to this, and will be a nice refresher for those of you who have been around the interactive advertising block.

Data to Request in an RFP

  • Site

  • URL
  • What are the unique visits/mo.?
  • What are the pageviews/mo.?
  • What area on the site is the inventory you propose?
  • Is it a commerce or content area?
  • Proposed guaranteed impressions
  • Proposed guaranteed clicks/visit
  • Proposed package cost (gross)
  • CPM (gross)
  • What site adserver do you use?
  • Accept DART as third-party adserver?
  • Third-party audit available?

This is just a brief list of what should be included in every RFP to ensure site consideration for a plan.

So there you have it. Thanks for playing.

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