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New Research: What Influences Agency Media Buyer Decision-Making? - 3/18/2014 -

Lindsay Morrison
Get to know Lindsay Morrison, vice president of marketing communications at Kantar Media SRDS & Healthcare Research, a group that collects, organizes, and delivers advertising data to connect media buyers with media sellers. SRDS recently teamed up with AM&P member James G. Elliott Co., Inc. on an important new market research study designed to understand the information needs of media planners and buyers at advertising agencies. What follows are some of the surprising results of this study, which was conducted in Q4 2013 and included 204 individual respondents.

By Carla Kalogeridis

Sidebar: What are some of the surprises gleaned from your recent survey of advertising agencies?

Morrison: One of the more interesting is that there are an increasing number of media buyers who are planning and buying advertising schedules all year long, as opposed to the more traditional pattern of planning and buying your advertising in the fall for the coming year and then being done with it. In our survey, 63 percent of the media buyers said they are buying schedules sporadically, quarterly, or semi-annually.

Sidebar: What does this mean to the advertising sales rep and their publications?

Morrison: It means the reps donít know when to reach out anymore. Itís more challenging for ad sales reps to know when to submit proposals to clients.

Sidebar: Does that indicate that more of the decision-making is happening with less input from the ad sales rep?

Morrison: Yes, I think it does. The survey showed that client input, the previous yearís plan, and third-party resources rank highest in terms of what media buyers use when preparing and selecting the list of media for consideration. Input from the publication sales rep ranked below those three.

Sidebar: So if the associationís sales rep puts out a proposal to a potential advertiser, they might have no idea when during the year that a decision might be made. It sounds like the media buyer many not even know. That means a lot may be riding on the quality of the proposal, doesnít it?

Morrison: Yes, that could be true. The survey showed that media buyers are looking for integrated products with a variety of components beyond print. You must have an integrated product in your proposal to get their attention. They are also looking for new or unique pricing ideas. Itís also important that the study showed that 87 percent of the media buyers never or rarely give an excluded media a chance to change their proposal.

Sidebar: What about the role of RFPs in the ad-planning process?

Morrison: We found that the use of RFPs is still very high among ad agencies, with 82 percent saying they use RFPs always or often in their planning process. Only 2 percent said they never use RFPs.

The biggest change in the RFP process, however, is the amount of time the publication is allowed to turn them around. Agency media buyers say they are working on more campaigns and more brands, therefore they have less time themselves to deal with the RFP process. About 90 percent of respondents who use RFPs said they allow 10 or fewer workdays for RFP completion, and 40 percent said they allow 5 or fewer days.

Sidebar: According to the survey, what else affects buying decisions?

Morrison: Cost per thousand and discounts off the rate card are at the top. Weíve heard of associations sometimes pushing back against going off the rate card, and often, it could be a directive from their board or something in their bylaws in an effort to be fair to all members. However, todayís media buyers absolutely expect to be offered a discounted rate from what appears on the publicationís rate card. All our respondents said they expect a discount off the rate card, and the average discount they expect is 29 percent. If associations arenít willing to do that, it could present a challenge for them with advertising agencies.

Editorís note: Look for an in-depth report on this important new market study in the May/June issue of Signature magazine.

Carla Kalogeridis is editorial director of Association Media & Publishing. If youíd like to be interviewed for Sidebar ó or know of someone else who always has an interesting perspective or opinion on association communications and publishing ó send us your suggestion.


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