How Digital Publishers Can Impress Media Buyers

Digital publishers are in trouble. There is incredible competition for direct buys from agencies. This is the cash cow, and if publishers had their preference, this is where 90% of their sales would go. Ad sales is a people- and creative-driven business (at least the premium, guaranteed side) in which the main challenge is having a sales force that is top of mind for all of the possible ad spenders. Now, when I look at my call list of publishers, there are 13,000 in there. That’s a big problem -- for me and the publishers I buy from. How do publishers ensure that they remain top-of-mind when agencies are bombarded by the other 12,999 in the marketplace?

Solid media-planning teams stay up to date with the latest sites and ad products. At my organization, we can’t meet with every single publisher, but we try to meet with as many as we can, especially the ones where we have a strong relationship. On any given week, we may host a minimum of 15 publishers across all our offices in the U.S.



For publisher sales teams looking to impress buyers, here are some tips to apply when meeting with media planning teams to make sure you hit it out of the ballpark and get on the next RFP:

  • Don’t rely on PowerPoint. Talk to us and get us engaged. The best meetings are those with a much more conversational format.
  • Remember that you are the experts. Before discussing opportunities/products exclusive to your site, first talk about the landscape in which you reside in the marketplace. Provide real insight. What does it look like, what are the challenges, what might planners not understand about the space? 
  • Don’t just recite research. Most organizations have access to comScore/Nielsen, so make it relatable. Tell us your story.
  • Do talk about the competition. How do you stack up? Why should we make the decision to go with you over the rest?
  • Do highlight active or previous campaigns you’ve executed for us. All attendees in the meeting might not be aware, and you can benefit from having an internal advocate.
  • Do share live examples of cool or new offerings (if available). Seeing a unit or technology in action is so much more beneficial than hearing about it. Don’t go around the room and ask about the accounts we work on. Fact-finding should be reserved for one-on-ones, not team presentations. If you have pointed questions for a particular planner or regarding a particular account, schedule another meeting with that person or team specifically.
  • Don’t request a meeting if you don’t have something new to share. Seeing the same deck more than once is not good use of a planning team’s time, and we will resist having you back.
  • Don’t undermine us by alluding to your direct relationship and/or inside knowledge of our client’s business. We are more likely to partner with people who don’t put us on the defensive.
  • Do send a note within 24 hours of the meeting. Planners are more likely to drag and drop you into our contacts folder than save info from your business card. Make it easy for us to find you when we need you!
Let’s be clear -- planners need good, quality publishers. It is in everyone’s vested interest to keep publishers healthy by funneling budget to them as directly as possible. We want these meetings to go well so that we have a better sense of who should get RFPs. The more planners and buyers collaborate with publishers’ ad sales teams, the better we can all deliver for advertisers. After all, isn’t that the whole point?
1 comment about "How Digital Publishers Can Impress Media Buyers".
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  1. R.J. Lewis from e-Healthcare Solutions, LLC, July 14, 2013 at 12:26 a.m.

    Katie, Thanks for the insights. It's interesting to see how the publisher/agency relationship has changed over the years. At the end of the day, I think it's important for everyone to take a breath and acknowledge that we all have a role to play in the ultimate endgame - providing a valuable service to a client. The more we can align our efforts and function as a team, the better the client will be.

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