A Promising Solution To The RFP Mess

Last year I wrote a column entitled “The Digital RFP Is A Frustrating Mess.” The request for proposal is the bane of the existence of digital media buyers, who must wade through thousands of emails and spreadsheets each year to assemble media plans for their clients. Media sellers are equally frustrated, especially when they diligently respond to last minute RFPs only to never completely know why they didn’t get the business.

Fortunately, at the same time that I was writing the column, media planning tools company NextMark was working on a solution to the problem. Instead of simply mimicking the current process with technology, the company concluded that the RFP itself was obsolete. “The RFP worked great for TV in 1962 with few options like ABC, NBC, and CBS. Fast-forward 50 years to today’s digital media age, and you find the exact opposite: tens of thousands of choices that are changing every day,” Joe Pych, CEO of NextMark, says.



Joe and his team developed a product called Media Magnet that turns the RFP process on its head. With Media Magnet, buyers specify their needs, and sellers have the responsibility of proving that their media program deserves to be in a buyer’s plan. The buyer reviews the rationale and then accepts or rejects the proposal, similar to how Lending Tree works in the consumer loan business.

If a buyer rejects a proposal, Media Magnet generates a dialog box that compels the buyer to tell the seller why the proposal was insufficient. By putting this element into the workflow, sellers will no longer have to wonder why their proposal got rejected.

The key to Media Magnet is that it provides a robust platform at the center of the process. Manual tools like email and spreadsheets are not sufficient to manage all of the data coming in and out. That’s precisely what NextMark has built: an easy-to-use, cloud-based system that can be accessed via any Web browser.

To date, more than 24 top agencies have agreed to test the system. And while Media Magnet is just getting going, the initial feedback has been quite positive. Some agency pros who have used the tool believe that it could have application to other forms of media, including print.

Of course, there are other players in the advertising technology space that also want to solve the RFP issue. MediaOcean, the merger of Donovan and MediaBank, has its own plans for building the operating system for advertising. Whoever can reinvent the RFP process for the half-trillion-dollar media industry and gain significant market share could be sitting at the center of a huge new business.

While adoption of Media Magnet is still in the early stages, the tool holds the promise of solving a problem that has been the bane of the digital media industry for over a decade.



6 comments about "A Promising Solution To The RFP Mess".
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  1. Norm Page from Grapeshot, July 16, 2012 at 2:14 p.m.

    Huh? Didn't DCLK largely address this issue with the launch of MediaVisor into the DART suite of solutions for both buyers and sellers in 2002? Ditto Atlas. With more robust solutions released over the years by Facilitate Digital with its Symphony product, and later MediaBank (now MediaOcean) providing us a full suite of cross-media channel functionality.

  2. Matt Straz from Namely, July 16, 2012 at 3:58 p.m.

    Hey Norm. Many have tried, none have truly succeeded... yet. Lots of systems either have been built or are being built. Donovan's iDesk was a rough first release. Hopefully it will get better. Facilitate and Centro have some nice solutions in market. I do like the utter simplicity of what NextMark has developed.

  3. Caroline Bloomer from Laurinus CCC , July 17, 2012 at 3:46 a.m.

    Did I miss something? Isn't the new system cloud based and therefore accessible anywhere and any how? Isn't this the basic USP - that no-one need be a software suite subscriber but still use this? And the interactive nature seems a bit more advanced too.
    Anyway, it sounds good to me and not dissimilar to the accident claims portal that UK legal firms began using for road traffic collisions recently. This system saves both parties time; enables both parties to see what each other is claiming; and gives the 'other side' a 30 day period for response. If the partly complained at does not want to settle in this period, then the whole claim and counter claim goes back to the old adversarial legal system.

  4. Max Kalehoff from MAK, July 17, 2012 at 10:50 a.m.

    If you're responding to an RFP, doesn't it mean you've already lost the business in a majority of cases? RFPs are usually a rubber stamp to seal the deal on a final selection -- both in terms of CYA and adhering to purchasing-department compliance. Granted, media have their nuances, but this fact is still largely true.

  5. Joseph Pych from NextMark, Inc., July 23, 2012 at 2:06 p.m.

    Hi Max - good point on the RFPs. You describe to one of the fundamental problems with the RFP process. That's why Media Magnet uses an alternative to the RFP called the "Request for Consideration" (or "RFC"). With the RFC, the seller (not the buyer) has the burden of proof: (1) the buyer basically says "here's what I need" (2) sellers submit proposals to fulfill that need (this is requesting consideration from the buyer) (3) the buyer accepts or rejects the proposals. For buyers, it's an easy way to source new/creative ideas for clients. For sellers, it's a way to get into the game before the final decisions are made.

  6. Ronnie Perchik from PromoAid, LLC, July 23, 2012 at 6:05 p.m.

    Matt, you are right, this sounds promising for above the line media as spreadsheets and emails are burning up too many resources for both agencies and the media suppliers.

    We hear the same feedback from our clients, as our service is similar to NextMark, except we focus on below the line media: Digital, Shopper Marketing, Social, Promotional, etc.

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