What Media Buyers Want

As Internet marketers, we deal with new publishers every day, hundreds in a matter of months. In the interest of efficiency, we’ve formulated routines and developed mental questionnaires to facilitate communication with our media suppliers. These tricks help us get site profiles, traffic stats, placement options, and inventory availability as easily as possible. But competence and exertion must be jointly practiced, and we continue to run into media sellers who just aren’t living up to their end of the bargain.

Although the big-name sites usually take the majority of the blame, smaller properties generally believed to offer more personalized service are no longer exempt. I have recently encountered my fair share of disorganized (or worse, unreachable) account executives. Chalk it up to the time of year, which has salespeople extra busy planning elaborate fourth-quarter campaigns. Service just isn’t what it used to be.

I sometimes daydream of a perfect world where media buyers and sellers speak the same language and closing a deal is as effortless as breathing. I know I’m not the only one who shares this idealistic vision. I still encounter at least one supplier per day who has a hard time relating to media buyers — perplexing animals that we are — and would give almost anything to know what we really want.

The pragmatist in me knows this fantasy won’t simply materialize on its own. Achieving a state of mutual bliss will take some serious work. What better way to start than by demystifying the buyer for the sake of media sellers everywhere? Here’s what we buyers need from sellers to make campaign planning easier.

Know Your Product

This point may seem axiomatic, but it warrants mention. Buyers still routinely encounter sellers who are as lost on their site as Waldo in a pile of candy canes. Successfully representing a media property is impossible without knowing its layout, inventory, ad tracking systems, and campaign procedure.

Even if your site is blessed with a strong brand image and your inventory virtually sells itself, buyers will quickly lose faith in you if you lack answers to the most basic questions. If you work for a small site or an offline media property just making the shift online, the same rules apply. You’re not expected to know everything about online advertising, but knowing your own site should be a given.

Keep Stats Up to Date

Contrary to popular misconception, the number of hits your site receives is not useful information for media buyers. Reps who work for smaller sites and site publishers who sell their own inventory offer up these numbers repeatedly, seemingly oblivious to their insignificance.

What buyers look for are current stats, updated monthly, including unique visitors and page impressions/page views broken down by section or channel. Depending on their needs and the nature of their client’s campaign, many buyers also seek more in-depth information, such as the length of a site’s user sessions. Habitually providing these stats will save your client time as well as demonstrate a sense of confidence in the property you represent. That kind of conviction is just what we buyers are looking for.

Be Flexible

Believe it or not, media buyers rarely have the final say on which sites get their business. We make strong recommendations that may ultimately become a reality. But we also answer to clients whose objectives, budgets, and timelines have been known to change from one day to the next.

When something unexpected comes up, we need our account executives to be as flexible as possible with flight dates, campaign minimums, and ad rates. We understand you have your limits. If you improve a buyer’s opinion of your ability to meet her ever-changing needs, however, it’s worth the accompanying sacrifice. Your job may become temporarily complicated and you might lose a few bucks on a campaign or two, but you’ll win in the end with repeat business and an improved reputation.

This is an abbreviated list to be sure, but it’s a decent starting point. Of course, determining what media buyers want is only half the battle. Sellers, what do you need from us to make campaign execution go more smoothly? Send me your wish list, and we might just achieve work-life satisfaction yet.

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