OMMA Programmatic Panelists Offer Insight On How They Vet The Vendors

With so many ad-tech vendors in the market, how do agencies manage to sort out whom to meet with, not to mention evaluating their offerings?

“Vetting the Vendors” at OMMA Programmatic on Wednesday addressed these issues with a panel led by Jessica Joines, co-founder & partner at Industry Index, a firm that ranks marketing technology vendors in the digital advertising ecosystem.

The panelists said it’s impossible to look at every email they receive in which vendors seek meetings. David Berkowitz, principal of Serial Marketer, his own consultancy and former CMO at MRY, said he’s spent a decade trying to create best practices around the issue. He keeps an “Idiots Tab” in Gmail for bad vendor pitches. Some pitches are a “total waste of time,” Berkowitz said. Vendors need to know that “no” means “no.” Emails that are too long won’t be read. And those addressed to the right person at the beginning but conclude with a different name, will be pitched.

Joe Tao, SVP, chief delivery officer, Rokkan, takes two to three vendor meetings a month to understand what’s going on in the marketplace.  “We try to get a mix of players: established, and startups with newer platforms,” Tao said. He finds that newer platforms are willing to be more flexible and customize.

Ryan Hurley, director of performance marketing, The Archer Group, looks to see how far the vendor’s solution deviates from his agency’s goal of delivering a high-quality product for clients. He also looks for whether the vendor’s product will make what he’s doing better and more innovative. “Does it save me time or money? Is it aligned with my strategy?”

Berkowitz said he asks himself, “How likely am I to learn something during the meeting? That’s the question. It doesn’t matter whether the company is large or small. If they help me see something in a different way, it’s a meeting I’ll take.”

Other criteria for taking meetings with vendors include how scalable the product is, and its measureability, relevance and ease of integration.

Tao said, ultimately, he’s looking for whether a vendor’s offering is right for the client, and whether the company has implemented similar solutions for clients and competitors. “Ease of integration is a big one, and having people from the vendor’s side onboarding us is important.”

Hurley said as complicated as it is to manage them, he does want multiple vendors. “I don’t want to put all my dollars into one partner.”

Berkowitz added that so many companies claim to do everything, while they’re not particularly good at anything. Plus, many vendors don’t make good use of content marketing to market themselves. This type of marketing helps him learn new things.

Ultimately, “I want to know, ‘do you have a way that I can validate what I’m doing?’ Can you quantify the value you’re bringing me? Sometimes the vendor doesn’t know how it adds value,” Hurley said.

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