What would you do if you and your friends ordered a large pizza and it arrived with only six slices? The delivery guy apologizes, and tells you that he'll bring the missing two slices next time, along with a few extra slices thrown in for your troubles. Having very limited options, you say "no problem," eat your three slices, and let your friends fight for the rest.
When a buyer issues an insertion order, he expects the publisher to book and prioritize the inventory. But publishers don't always deliver, which presents particular problems for time-sensitive campaigns that rely on maximizing reach during specific time windows. Examples of such campaigns include television network driving tune-in to a series premiere; a movie studio driving consumers into theaters for a new film release; or a retailer running a limited-time sale or promotion.
Media under-deliveries can contribute to missing business objectives and shouldn't be taken lightly. At times, it seems as if media sales reps overextend themselves without following through to ensure fulfillment of time-sensitive campaigns. Unfortunately, make-goods don't address all of the ramifications of under-delivery, such as the opportunities lost during strategic windows of time and the additional work created for the agency.
Experienced media buyers and campaign managers should be proactive when working with publishers, but ultimately have to oversee campaign delivery across many sites and placements. Even small under-deliveries from a handful of sites can lead to a campaign falling short of expectations.
There are two primary reasons for under-deliveries. The first is that campaigns are inadvertently under-prioritized due to a combination of ad server limitations and a level of manual inventory management. Secondly, portions of campaigns are pre-empted by other campaigns with stronger contractual obligations, more revenue, or otherwise deemed "more important." Of less impact, traffic levels can vary from month to month.
Clients don't care why a campaign under-delivers--they only care that the under-delivery prevented their marketing dollars from working as hard as they should have. My advice to sales reps is to identify campaigns that have time-sensitive requirements and work with your traffic departments to make sure they deliver. After all, long-term relationships start with the ability to deliver your product.
Don't Click By Paul DeBraccio
As the CEO of a rep firm, I must admit that this is a particularly difficult topic to defend.
Ensuring that all our campaigns make their impression goals in a timely manner is the first priority of all quality publishers.
However, there are a number of advertiser-centric goals that should be adhered to for the process to work efficiently:
1) Timeliness. If you are running a campaign that is time-sensitive, make sure that the publisher has a
longer lead time than usual. After you send the insertion order, it must go through sales for quality control; then it is sent to traffic to be uploaded onto the site.
2) Details. Provide as much information as possible as to how long the specific creative will run, where it will run on the site, and what your metrics are. If it is branding or direct response-focused or if you want to frequency cap or geotarget, S-P-E-L-L I-T O-U-T. Traffic staffs process a lot of material, and uploading is a technical process that requires careful settings when pacing ads.
3) Priorities. Most quality publishers do not arbitrarily relegate lower-spending advertisers to a lower pacing priority on the ad server. It is not practice to push off any delivery or to intentionally under-deliver. Of course, with complex technology there will always be issues, but good traffic people understand the art of pacing and tweaking campaigns on a daily basis. Also, these days, most high-quality sites are short of inventory, and pushing something to the next month intentionally simply compounds the problem.
4) Information. Ask your sales rep if they see any problem reaching your goals within the allotted time frame. If they cannot provide you with a reasonable guarantee, do not use them. I would also make it clear that you will not pay for impressions delivered beyond your schedule dates.
Most high-quality sites will jump through the proverbial hoops to ensure that your campaign runs per the parameter set on your insertion order. If they do not, it is time to move on to another site. Most publishers counsel sites to do everything they can to reach the goals needed. If not, most publishers are aware that agencies will simply knock them off the next plan.