Have you ever asked, “Why use a media agency when I can do this myself?” “What does a media agency do that I can’t do?”
Many years ago, I was asked to name one common mistake marketers make. I immediately responded, “trying to buy your own media can be a big and costly mistake.” Fast forward to present day, and I’d suggest that trying to buy your own media has only gotten worse.
Full disclosure: I own and operate a media agency. So, while my comments might seem a little self-serving, they’re intended to help you avoid investing poorly in paid media. You see, unless your company is large enough to hire an in-house professional staff, buying your own media is akin to trying to be your own lawyer. Not only does it require experience, knowledge and technical services you don’t have, it is much more work than you think, requiring time you probably don’t have.
Still want to go it alone? Before you decide, I want to share five factors that might make you reconsider and help you avoid making one of the largest mistakes: trying to plan and buy your own media.
#1 Media Sellers Are Not on Your Team
Marketers and media sellers do not have shared goals. I was a media seller in the early years of my career. Our primary goal wasn’t to make our clients successful, it was to sell inventory at the highest price possible. You can’t blame media sellers – that’s their job.
Most media sellers love dealing directly with clients (not media agencies) because they know they’re often working with amateurs and can structure deals to benefit themselves, usually at higher prices. The amateur buyer may be unaware to ask for certain audience guarantees, discounts, performance metrics or special clauses in the deal that allow for greater flexibility. In the end, the media sellers will gladly sell you ad space, but they don’t really care about your return on investment or how their media outlet performs for your campaign.
#2 Self Service Buying Platforms Require Experience and Talent
New media buying technologies have tempted many marketers to perform “self-service” or “do-it-yourself” media buying. Digital media channels, particularly the social media platforms, have tempted many to use their native media buying services. Today, even offline media are now testing similar technology. Why? To sell more inventory. The assumption by most marketers is that by managing media themselves, they’ll have better in-house control, save money and improve campaign ROI. It’s tempting, but keep in mind all the technology and data supporting media buying will require far more resources, not less.
I can confirm these platforms have saved us little time over the traditional way of buying media. Some media costs have been lowered (a good thing) mostly by eliminating middle men and human sales people. But these systems have a by-product — lots of data. Managing it is crucial to your media buy and influences how you’ll invest and optimize your campaigns. Unless you have a well-trained team operating these buying platforms, monitoring and analyzing performance daily and making changes to active media investments, you may lose all the financial benefits a self-service option offers.
#3 Your Customers Don’t Just Watch TV and Listen to the Radio Anymore
Is your target audience consuming just one medium? Not likely. Your customers are consuming media across several media and devices at all hours of the day. Even if you are buying your own media, I’ll bet you’re probably only buying Search and Facebook. Your media agency’s role is to know who your customers are and how to reach them – online and offline. They know how all media channels can work together and how best to integrate the various media solutions, so you can achieve the ROI you’re expecting.
#4 Media Continues to Evolve at a Rapid Pace
Most traditional media today are being disrupted by two main forces: the change in how we consume media and the technology platforms that allow us to purchase ad space within them. Broadcast media, for example, is one of the largest media types going through a transformation. TV is now “Video,” distributed via antenna, cable, satellite, on gaming devices, online and out-of home. Other offline media channels are reinventing themselves and online media, while making some progress, continues to battle fraud, targeting and viewability concerns.
More forward-thinking media planners and buyers embrace change, however, unless you are managing media full-time, it’s impossible to stay up to speed on this evolution. More importantly, filtering out the duds vs. the opportunities is one of the better services and value a media agency can bring to your company.
#5 Monitoring Your Media
How do I know my spots aired properly? How do I know my digital ads all served successfully on the right publishers? Did the media vendor run the right copy on the correct date and time? Media monitoring is crucial to ensuring your investment is being spent the way you want it to — especially when you have a tight budget working over a short time frame. But monitoring your media requires a financial investment in several technology solutions — and the manpower to review the data. We monitor media daily and often discover vendor errors which we can typically correct within the campaign’s flight dates, protecting your media investment.
Why use a media agency?
Media buying is a specialty and one area where you definitely should consider professional help. You’ll want to like (maybe, even love) your media agency, so take time in your selection process. You’re hiring people and their skills should fit your needs. Once you select the right media agency, keep them on speed-dial and allow them to truly become involved in your business.
Interested in learning more about how we can help you? Let us know by emailing us here.