If the Media's Walls Could Talk Here's what they'd say about buying ad space
Buying media for direct response advertising campaigns can be either painfully complex or amazingly simple. Decisions almost always depend on one element: arithmetic.
Once a buyer knows the selling price of the product or service and the allowable cost per order (CPO), they then can determine how much a client can afford to pay for every thousand impressions in the marketplace.
Sheri Rothblatt, managing partner at Wunderman Media, explains that the weight you put in the market also depends on a client's seasonality, business trends and when the client needs the lead or sale.
"When we're planning from a direct response perspective, we always have a tangible goal," Rothblatt shares. "The very first thing we need to know before we ever start negotiating is what the client's business goals arewhether a client needs X number of leads, whether they could spend X amount of dollars, or whether this is a national program or a local program."
Media buyers need to know, among other things: marketing history; whether the campaign is for acquisition or retention; product or service history; and offer history.
"Direct response advertising, as opposed to general advertising, is highly measurable, therefore allowing you to judge on a case-by-case basis," affirms Bill Lage, president and CEO of Good News Advertising.
While an aggressive, general advertiser like Nike has no earthly idea how many sneakers a 60-second television commercial sells at any given time, a direct response advertiser like Time-Life can measure, track, weigh and assess the successor lack thereofof spots.
To help direct marketers get a leg up in the buying business, I picked the brains of some experts to glean tips, strategies for negotiating and direct response precepts that never wane out of practice.
INSIGHT: With image and brand-building ads, three insertions is considered the bare minimum. The first makes an impression, the second starts people thinking, and the third gets them to really stop, look and listen. Although there are many studies about repetition, there is no magic number, and the needs will vary widely by product and target market. For example, if you are introducing a new product and your company has no name awareness or credibility, you will need to factor in additional placements.
INSIGHT: If you make an annual commitment upfront as to what type of frequency your space advertisement will have, a publication will give you a better discount. When you run on a project-to-project basis, it's really hard to get publications to build in any discounts because it's more labor-intensive for them.
INSIGHT: If you want your magazine advertisement to run on a far-forward, right-hand page in November and December issues, make your reservation months ahead of time before all the premium spots are snatched up.
INSIGHT: During certain months, magazines and newspapers get cluttered. Pages could always be added to a publicationthe inventory is not limitedbut you always want people to be as responsive as possible. The more ads consumers see, the less they will respond. If you [are running in] a magazine that's full of advertising, you really have to be far forward on a right-hand page to get people to notice your ad.
INSIGHT: Recruitment advertisingwhich was once a huge source of revenue for newspapersis way down, in part due to the economy and the Internet. That said, a lot of publications are willing to wheel and deal.
INSIGHT: Sunday has the biggest audiences in newspapers. You do pay more money to be in a Sunday newspaper, but you're reaching more people, and they're spending more time with the newspaper.
INSIGHT: Magazines are easier to negotiate with than newspapers. It seems as if sales representatives [at newspapers] have been trained to stick to the rate-card [pricing]. A lot of times, you won't get a discount unless you have done significant buying with that newspaper in the past.
Direct Response Television (DRTV) and Radio
INSIGHT: For DRTV, there is more rate flexibility in the first and third quarters. This is the best time to test. The fourth quarter is a very expensive quarter, so it is not always the best time to test unless you have a product or service that you really need to sell during the holiday season.
INSIGHT: When the audience isn't big, it's a better time to negotiate rates. Cold weather is good for viewing, warm weather is not. If I were negotiating a long-term contract, I would do it when the network or station was having down time. Wait until their bottom falls out and desperation sets inthen go in and negotiate.
INSIGHT: We push for heavier budgets to launch a brand new product, so you would have a heavier frequency for a product launch than during a maintenance schedule. If there's a product that has been on the market for a long time, and you are starting up a brand-new campaign, on TV for example, you could have somewhat equal weight throughout the entire length of the campaign.
INSIGHT: The week after Christmas, no one's advertising on television. This is the best time to be on TV in terms of getting a deal because even though there's not as much demand for the medium, the viewing levels are very high.
INSIGHT: Seek out per inquiry (PI) deals. The client pays the television or radio station X amount of dollars for
X amount of sales or leads. Some networks don't offer it, and even more say they don't offer it but really do. But depending on a station's financial situation and inventory, [it] may be forced to.
INSIGHT: The standard unit that most advertisers use for DRTV are 60-second spots. 120s work very well, but are available in very limited numbersmostly late at night or on small cable networks. But 60s are really the workhorse of DRTV. A combination of 30s and 60s can also work well, but you are limited to what the station sells.
INSIGHT: The burnout factor for DRTV spots is typically 12 times. Then you have to change the creative. With direct response television, it's critical to come up with different creative regularly.
INSIGHT: You can lock in a lower rate by negotiating for a BTAbest time available. Oftentimes your DRTV spot will be pushed into prime time if there is a sudden hole in the schedule. But the networks are always leery of cheaply produced spots devaluing their prime-time lineup.
INSIGHT: Almost no one pays the rate-card [price] unless it's a spot on the biggest radio station in the country.
INSIGHT: When you buy air-time on radio, you're working with the same rates that a general advertiser would work with. They don't offer as much flexibility in the buying negotiation.
INSIGHT: With DRTV spots, what marketers will often do is dedicate separate 800 numbers for different spots running at the same time. But it's a mixed blessing. While you can track the effectiveness of each spot, vanity numbers are more memorable (example: 1-800-GEICO).
INSIGHT: Remnant spaceunsold broadcast or print media which is unloaded at the last minute at a discounted pricecould work well if you have never purchased an ad in that particular [vehicle] before. You could get some tremendous deals. It's beneficial, though, to [make available] different sizes of the ad so you could be sure it gets in.
INSIGHT: Remnant space is a good way to go for direct response. Just bear in mind that the station or publication is controlling it. You have to be at their mercy for scheduling.
INSIGHT: With insert media, you want to negotiate for competitive
exclusivity. You'd rather have a smaller package of insertsbig enough for someone to want to open it and take a look insidebut it's better that you don't [overwhelm someone with] 100 [inserts] in
Meet the Experts
* Deborah Cover-Lewis ... president, MediaVision, a media buying service based in Bethesda, MD.
* Bill Lage ... president and CEO, Good News Advertising, a sales firm based in Potomac, MD, that represents cable news stations in large markets around the country, and nationally syndicated programs.
* Molly Montgomery ... media manager, The Hacker Group, a direct marketing agency based in Bellevue, WA, whose clients include IBM, GE, AT&T and Washington Mutual.
* Sheri Rothblatt ... managing partner at Wunderman Media, part of worldwide marketing services agency Wunderman, whose clients include Ford, Citibank, Sears, Xerox and Burger King.
* Julie Volchko ... director of media and analysis, The Hacker Group.