With the explosion of digital advertising and the continued fragmentation of advertising channels, advertisers sometimes wonder how many agencies they will need to accomplish their marketing and advertising goals. It is becoming more common that agencies need to build partnerships to help assemble the “dream team” and ensure all bases are covered in the scope of services offered - creative, PR, traditional, digital, and more. The agencies proposing to these clients do not always have the talent or the bandwidth under one roof to fulfill these all-inclusive scopes.
Media is an area of the scope that can be fairly easy to outsource with a specialized media buying agency. When searching for a media planning and buying partner, there are many questions to ask that will help identify the ideal partner.
Does their experience match my needs?
Experience matters when selecting a top media planning and buying service provider to do meaningful work on your behalf. Imagine utilizing a newcomer solo attorney to defend your company against a complicated, multi-state class action lawsuit with thousands of plaintiffs. It would not be prudent. Similarly, a chief marketing officer cannot afford to trust the hard-won marketing budget for a nationwide integrated advertising campaign to be planned and managed by someone lacking relevant experience and resources.
Begin the process by determining what role is really needed to extend your marketing department or agency in order to complete the services that are lacking or altogether missing. Then, ask for referrals from existing media buying agency partners and/or trusted marketing peers. Conduct tightly focused online searches and consider issuing a request for qualifications (RFQ).
How will I know if a media buying agency will utilize proven processes that work for my needs?
Once a shortlist of potential partners is selected, the Q&A needs to become candid and transparent. This is not the time for generic, superficial chatter. Ask for specifics on software, systems and other tools used within the agency. Inquire about their approach to goal creation, KPIs, timelines, budget management and other factors that are critical for your specific business needs. Ask open-ended, probing questions about their track record like, "How would previous clients describe your approach to (fill in the blank)."
Seek references who will verify qualifications and give firsthand feedback about relationships, service, recommendations and how the media buying agency improved advertising campaign results. And trust your gut. At the end of the day, this is a relationship like any other. A little intuition can go a long way.
Why is media planning and buying so important in advertising?
While content is still king with messaging, if the right audience doesn’t see your message in the right channel at the right time, inefficiency and wasted expense are increased. This reduces the campaign ROI and may lead to faulty analyses during A/B testing for the effectiveness of different creative approaches. There are many tactical issues within campaign execution that put particular emphasis on the impact of sound decisions on the media side of the equation. And keep in mind that in most campaigns, the bulk of the dollars are invested in the media, not the creative. It's of utmost importance to make sure those dollars are properly stewarded.
How much does it cost?
Virtually every marketing scope of work today is custom built due to the complexity of the integrated media landscape, tools required, and varying labor hours necessary to execute campaigns from one advertiser to the next. As such, the associated compensation plans will vary as well. While the most common method of compensation is a percentage of your media spend, it's impossible to suggest what you should expect to pay for your particular needs and scope. That being said, the best media partners will offer full transparency and detail exactly how their fees are calculated so that you know precisely where every dollar is going.