It doesn’t seem that long ago when a media buyer’s job was a lot less complicated. Obtain the research results from Nielsen, Pulse, Arbitron, calculate the cost-per-thousand value, negotiate buys based on targeted demos. Meet at the local watering hole and tell war stories.
Today’s media buyer faces complex challenges yesterday’s buyer couldn’t even contemplate. In 1960 we had a 3 or 4 AM radio station, a few of those weird FM stations, 4 or 5 broadcast television stations and 1 or 2 newspapers. Of course there was yellow page advertising, outdoor and collateral. In 2016 we have several thousand-radio stations if you include all the Internet channels, my cable company has 1000 or more choices and satellite will bring a few thousand more into the home if you let them. Then there is the ‘Internet’ and mobile with a few zillion more opportunities.
Today’s media expert has to be well versed in the amazing array of communication choices to research, plan, negotiate, place and manage a marketing investment that makes sense. One that is effective and efficient in terms of return on investment.
“A really good media expert has to understand the art and the science of planning and buying.”
I asked Amy Wheeler, one of the media experts at Creative Broadcast Concepts, for her thoughts on media management in the ‘digital age.’
What are the most desirable qualities in a media manager today? Is it a research expert…a planner or is an aggressive buyer who knows how to squeeze every digital dot for maximum value?
Amy – It’s really both. A really good media expert has to understand the art and the science of planning and buying. Your media expert also has to understand firsthand the goals and target of the client. 30 years ago it was commonplace for the agency account executive to convey the client’s goals to the media-buying department. Today, an effective buyer/planner has direct contact with the client in order to listen to every nuance of various challenges and product opportunities. It’s much better for the client to reach out directly to the actual media buyer with ongoing feedback in order to tweak and tune schedules in real-time.
So, is media buying today more Science than Art? Or Vice Versa?
Amy – It’s really a balance of both. Of course there is the science of collecting data from both customer media habits as well as research from the various media opportunities in the marketplace, but there is the important application of skill and creativity based on learned experiences. Today’s best media experts understand the science behind the concept of layering multiple data sets and combining them with the knowledge of the market, the client’s history, brand and positioning as well as that of the client’s competitors. But they also understand the art of negotiation and building productive market relationships built on respect, trust and synergistic goals.
If a dealer is interviewing an ad agency to handle his or her marketing, it sounds like a pretty good idea to interview the media experts at the agency as well as the account representative.
Amy – Absolutely. It’s critical for the dealer to get good insight into the ‘backend’ of the agency and meet the people who will be most responsible for results…both in the media planning/buying area, as well as in the creative direction.
What would you recommend to a dealer in terms of qualities to assess in agency selection?
- What level of experience and success do they bring to the table? I don’t think it is as important to know specifically what a campaign is going to look like before hiring an agency as it is to examine their past performance with others. After all, every market and every dealer is a little different and it takes time to put together an effective strategy.
- Ascertain what value an agency puts on dealer insights and communication. Remember, an ad agency is only there to tell your story. They can’t create miracles. It’s very important that they understand and represent your greatest strengths well.
- Ask the agency to explain what resources they will use to determine how your money is spent.
- Ask the agency what kind of processes they utilize to train and stay educated on constantly evolving media opportunities.
What’s the single most important thing an ad agency media expert has to do to maximize a client’s effectiveness and efficiency in their marketplace?
Amy – Gain the trust of both the client and the media representatives the buyer is working with. The buyer has to get everyone in a win-win mindset. The client is going to be happy if he or she sees direct, measurable results and the media sources will benefit with long term income potential if the client is successful.
Amy welcomes your questions and comments at Awheeler@dealer-communications.com.