Why Can't We All Get Along?

Does your media department get along with your production team? Be honest, now.

Many of my fellow agency folk talk about communication problems between production and media. For the most part, these difficulties have striking similarities from one agency to another. Moreover, most of them can be prevented with a little formalized communication between the two departments.

The little spats between media and production occur for very real reasons. But 90 percent of them consist of the following situations:

  • Media buys ad packages with a kajillion different ad sizes and Production doesn’t have the time or money in the budget to do the resizings.

  • Neither Media nor Production wants the responsibility for tracking down the latest ad specs.
  • Production requires additional time past the material close dates to produce ads.

How do we handle these situations? Let’s take them one at a time

Media planners should always have a baseline idea of what it costs to produce additional creative, how long it takes and how much a client has in his production budget. There’s no point in recommending PointCast to a client if you know they don’t have enough money in the production budget to cover the cost of the commercial.

Many agencies can build in fees for covering resizings of ad executions into the IAB standard sizes, but it’s also important for a media planner to realize that a creative concept that will work within a 468×60 space does not necessarily work in an 88×31 microbutton.

If an agency fee can simply be worked in to the production budget for handling resizings, then all the media people have to do is watch out for anything offered in a media package that’s not standard size. If a package has non-standard ad units as a component, perhaps the media property offering it can throw in the cost of resizing an existing creative concept to fit the space.

As far as ad specs go, neither Production nor Media ever seems to want the responsibility for tracking down the latest specs. Frankly, both have terrific excuses for absolving themselves of tackling this task.

Producers always say, “If Media did the buy, they should know what they bought. So why can’t they just tell us the specs?” Media people will react by saying, “I’m concerned that I’ll mix up the production lingo and miscommunicate something to a producer.” Both valid arguments.

In many cases, this problem can be solved by ensuring that Media provides production with a copy of the insertion order (detailing what was bought) and a production contact at the media property. This way, media folks can avoid production lingo and still get the producer what he needs to deliver finished ads.

Sometimes producers need extra time to get an ad out the door. They often come to media planners begging them to call a media property in order to get a deadline extension.

This is fine if it happens once or twice. But sometimes this will get out of control, and producers will request deadline extensions for every material close date on your media plan. This is obviously NG, as Media doesn’t want to spend additional time calling sales reps asking for favors. That’s why smart media planners lie. When the flowcharts go out to the client, be sure to build an extra week into your material close dates, so that procrastinating producers won’t force you to beg.

This is only a patchwork solution, however. Be sure that Production understands that missing closing dates may result in the late launch of a campaign or a downgrade in positioning.

With a little communication, Media and Production can identify the seams in their process and address them to everyone’s satisfaction. It just takes a little ingenuity and wheedling.

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