Frequently Found Lapses in the Media Buying Process
Advertising is often touted as a creative business, one in which inspiration and ideas are highly prized. Beyond copywriters and art directors who are obviously in the idea business, media planners and buyers may also bring new thinking to the table that helps drive advertising effectiveness. There is ample evidence that creativity in exposing consumers to marketing messages can fuel dramatic gains in effectiveness. Yet those breakthroughs may not come easily. Failure to execute may doom the effort altogether. For advertisers in intensely competitive categories, flawless execution is critical to success. In the end, buyers must mind many details to assure advertisers’ media investments will be effective.
Discipline, effective processes and controls throughout negotiation, stewardship and the billing reconciliation phases of the media investment cycle are critical to an advertiser’s success. Consider the following areas to help improve your odds for success:
Executional Processes & Controls
Communication of Plan Objectives to Buyers
Solid systems would assure buyers have an accurate understanding of quantitative objectives including budgets and expected audience achievement with all of the necessary detail (by daypart, program types, etc.). Ideally, planning systems (e.g., flowcharting) would seamlessly transmit these flawlessly to buying platforms. In addition, buyers must be fully briefed on qualitative aspects of the plan, assuring that they understand the totality of the client’s objectives and buying guidelines, and how they are to be implemented in estimating, negotiation and scheduling decisions.
Effective Oversight, Involving Planners in Reviewing Schedules
Prior to final placement, buy reviews enable planners to provide a critical quality check to assure buyers have faithfully met client objectives. This should be a top to bottom review – from achievement of delivery and budget goals – overall and by week – and reasonableness of buyers’ estimates to adhere to buying guidelines and secure delivery guarantees. Buyers cannot simply rely on estimates developed by media vendors.
Actionable Communication of Objectives to the Media Properties
Infusing the media sales representatives with an understanding of client objectives will provide them with the essential background necessary to help them develop the best offerings to meet the client’s needs. As the schedule runs, sales reps must have the same understanding of expectations to assure they are met.
Proactive Stewardship Throughout the Life of the Buy
Leveraging new intelligence regarding program scheduling, audience delivery and external factors (weather, natural disasters) that may impact the performance of an advertiser’s schedule is essential to protect their investment. With the wealth of information flowing from national buying groups, overnight and weekly ratings services (national and local), there is no excuse for sitting back and letting the chips fall where they may.
Activism in Securing Restitution to Assure Advertisers are Made Whole
Buyers – and their finance counterparts – must be aggressive in enforcing accountability on the part of the media. This begins with rigorous matching of invoices to the details of the buy – unit for unit to assure all spots ran as ordered. Where this is not the case, credits should be taken. Schedules must be posted to assure guaranteed audience delivery was achieved. Where that is not the case, buyers must be vigilant in securing timely under delivery restitution to make the client whole.
Like Yogi always said, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over”
Change is one of the few certainties in our business. Planner/buyer communication is critical to make certain that changing priorities on the part of the advertiser are carried through from beginning to end. As circumstances warrant, plans will change, changes must be communicated to buyers and the entire process keeps moving forward. Due diligence must be the watchword for all involved.