BUYING MEDIA-Managing Expectations
We had a client that came to us that in the past had been very, very successful with its media purchases on cable and in broadcast, especially successful on those broadcast stations in late news programs. They also were doing well with rotating schedules in primetime slots. As often happens when demand for TV time goes up, prime time rotators became so expensive and the product no longer paid out in those time periods. As conditions persisted, Late News then became very expensive on certain affiliates, meaning those time periods no longer paid out. The client--who had started a new company and now was on limited funds--was insistent that we could find attractive, workable rates for the same time periods if we trolled the media waters. He felt we could uncover those gems. But the reality at that point in time was that the marketplace was hot and rates were very high, and demand was soaring. So finding those “old rates (which were years old in his experience) just were not there.
While our client’s belief about rates was simply not true in that current market, we thus needed to prove that we could provide opportunities that reflected the current market conditions. Our company was very aware of other time periods in a variety of other stations and markets--as well as a host of other national cable networks--that we felt would deliver the audience for their product and would, in fact, get the phone calls. Our client insisted that they had never found success in these areas, and were adamant that we find those rates that they had enjoyed in the past on the station and time periods that had worked for them. They were convinced then they were still to be found somewhere.
We were able, eventually, to find some rates on those same stations and networks that our client felt were similar to what they had enjoyed in that earlier successful era. But audience fragmentation had taken its toll: the viewership on those outlets was no longer there, and the payout for those rates simply didn’t materialize. We were in a position to finally convince our client that we needed to take some new approaches.
We convinced our client to let us reconstruct schedules in these dayparts, using stations and networks more reflective of how audience and rates had shifted. It worked: we were able to meet the ROI goals that they developed. They were astonished, but pleased. We were able to maintain their campaign and keep them on the air for a number of years, and--to their delight--they were able to grow their market.
How often do we find ourselves in this position? Sometimes a client has false, inaccurate or outdated pre-set expectations and we have to overcome them through a combination of trial and error and the introduction of new alternatives and ideas. And sometimes we on the media buy side can benefit from this advice also. In our increasingly fragmented and multi-channel world, audiences shift, and we sometimes don’t take that into account in our buy strategies. Dealing with and managing client expectations—as well as our own—is important to remind ourselves of in our media planning and placement. To draw upon an old expression: “nothing is as constant as change.”