What Do Media Planners Want?

A lot of ad sales representatives get confused when I tell them that I don’t think their site is the best advertising vehicle for my clients’ products. They want to know what I look for when evaluating a site, and on which criteria I’m basing my judgment of “appropriateness” for our campaigns.

Every client is seeking something different from the web. As such, the selection criteria for each campaign is different. However, there are a few things that I look for that can influence buy decisions pretty heavily.

Here they are:

Contextual relevance – Ads for cars go on AutoByTel and Carpoint. (Duh.) Nothing beats addressing your target in an environment in which your client’s product is top of mind. Contextually relevant sites are where you secure the most valuable relationships for your client. “Stickiness,” “Reach” and any of the buzz concepts du jour are not nearly as important as contextual relevance.

Ability to serve – It’s important to be able to deliver the ads your creative team worked so hard to produce, particularly if you’re using rich media or other non-standard ad units. A good media property will go out of its way to help you deliver your ads, even if that means assisting your designers in re-sizing banners or offering to host rich media ads.

Good past performance – Every media planner has one or two favorite sites that seem to do well on almost every campaign. A good track record can go a long way. On the other hand, media properties that have a reputation for under-delivery and poor performance leave a bad taste in a planner’s mouth and often get passed over for consideration.

Cost efficiencies – To make further use of the “car ads go on AutoByTel” example above, let’s say for the sake of argument that AutoByTel wants to charge $100 CPM for advertising my client in an ROS rotation on its site. When presented with an offer from a sports site for a $5 CPM for ROS, I would seriously consider the sports site. Although contextual relevance goes a long way, it may be a stretch to say that one should pay 20 times the rate one would normally pay, in order to secure contextually relevant inventory.

Willingness to do business on the agency’s terms – My agency is used to doing business in a certain way. We expect that sales reps work with us to optimize campaigns. Therefore, we insist on certain stipulations in our contracts regarding cancellation clauses, buy guarantees and billing. Most agencies have their own expectations regarding how business should be conducted in the online advertising space. A site that can meet those expectations will more likely book business from an agency.

Although many agencies tend to look for the same things in an advertising venue, sales reps shouldn’t assume that all planners care about is whether a site is “sticky,” has the “most reach,” or is a “major portal.”

Rather, assume that planners all have different objectives in mind, and that good @Plan and Media Metrix numbers will not ensure consideration for a new media buy.

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