7 Golden rules to apply when buying advertising

 Negotiating your media plan is a key step after you’ve established your media strategy i.e. your message, your audience and the right titles/media to target your audience.

Media buying are subject to certain rules that you should abide by in order to achieve a successfull negotiation. We give you some tips below to optimize your next print media purchases, which can be applied as well on most traditional media, web display advertising included.

A summary of the 7 Golden rules to apply when buying advertising

  1. Are you a new advertiser?
  2. Your advertising budget is going up? Take advantage of it
  3. Your advertising budget is going down? You can take advantage of it too
  4. Play on exclusivity
  5. Be flexible and you’ll get better conditions
  6. Advertise during « Off peaks »
  7. Do not forget to ask about editorials!

I- Are you a new advertiser?

This aspect is quite important and probably the main one to keep in mind.

Indeed, media are usually more willing to offer attractive rates to advertisers who have never advertised with them. Those additional discounts media are ready to offer depend on commercial policies specific to each media group such as: acquiring more market share on specific sectors, developing « new businesses », diversifying the client’s portfolio, competing with another title on one brand universe, etc.…

You don’t need to be aware of those motivations when entering negotiations, media know them and that’s good enough. If it’s the first time you’re advertising, don’t use it as an argument upfront since your interlocutor is already aware of these practices. Instead, insist on the « risk » or the « bet » you’re willing to take by investing on this media you do not know, with no guarantee on ROI.

II- Your advertising budget is going up? Take advantage of it

You invested 100 in 2015 and you’re planning on investing 110 in 2016?

10% growth might not seem that spectacular but, in the actual economic context, an increase of budget is quite a positive signal you’re sending to media vendors. The goal is to use that increase as real leverage on your investments. Those additional 10% in investment can get you 20% more in ad spaces. How? It depends how big your media plan is. If you advertise in one title a year, you will negotiate with that only title for sure. Otherwise, if your media plan includes many media, focus on the most strategic ones for your brand.

When suggesting to your media interlocutors you’re willing to invest more on their titles, you offer them the possibility to hold or maybe even go beyond their own commercial targets. Maintaining or increasing the revenue of their advertisers is a priority. It’s a sign you trust them, and for that trust you grant them with, you are allowed to ask for more ads than what you would usually get with that 10% increase in your budget.

That’s the leverage effect. You can then decrease your average price per page (APP) and then decrease your cost per thousand, so that in the end the ROI of your campaign improves. Moreover, investing up when the market is down is a good opportunity to negociate good and keeping them, even when the context improves later on.

III- Your advertising budget is going down? You can take advantage of it too

Your media budget has decreased compared to last year. No matter how big the cut is, you should optimize what is left of your budget to compensate the lack of visibility this will trigger. How ?

  • Option 1: keep all your titles but reduce your investment in each one of them. It’s usually the worst context to negotiate. At best, you’ll maybe keep your usual net rate with a lower budget. Which is already a negotiation per se.
  • Option 2: make a choice among your media. It’s hard, but that’s the way it is. This year, the context is not so easy and your media budget is cut. It happens to a lot of brands and media will understand it. If they don’t, they have few chances of having you back when your investments will increase again.

When it comes to the titles you’ve decided to keep, that’s another story. You chose to keep them while others won’t get the chance to work with you this year. What does it mean?

It means you are already on good grounds to negotiating better conditions than last year. First, you are not decreasing your investment, unlike other advertisers. And since you’re maintaining your budget with this particular media, who is aware of the difficult context, asking for a gesture on the usual conditions is to be expected. Moreover, it is valorizing for the media since you show him they have succeeded in becoming a key partner to your brand. At the same time, that media will gain additional market shares if you cut other titles which were in the same brand universe as him.

IV- Play on exclusivity

It’s most probably one of the smartest things you can do, only, of course, if a media group owns enough media titles to target your audience and to answer your communication objectives. How does it work?

Let’s take an example with Hearst and Time Inc, two big US media groups which own a wide range of women titles. Obviously, each title has its own DNA and you need to consider that when choosing your media group partner.

That being said, you should rather consolidate your investments with one media group rather than spreading your budget on several publishing houses. This will allow you to get better conditions at least for the three reasons below:

  • your media investment becomes bigger with one partner, which will provide you with more negotiation power and will help you get better rates
  • when you offer exclusivity to one media group, it allows them to offer you much better conditions and it’s easier for them to answer your requests positively
  • you become a key partner with the media group and you get benefits from this partnership (priority on special offers or on exclusive opportunities, invitations to VIP events which are always a good place for networking, etc.)

V- Be flexible and you’ll get better conditions

Flexibility and creativity are essential qualities to succeeding in a good negotiation, especially in the advertising industry. To be « buying » is no sufficient condition to be able to lead the discussion in a commercial relationship. A fair commercial relationship meant to last is a relationship in which the buyer as well as the seller has discussed and negotiated together the conditions allowing each part to fulfill its own objectives.

In other words, if you want to advertise on Father’s Day and you are flexible on your dates on this given period, ask for « floating dates ». This provides the media flexibility to place your ad when they have free space as well as avoiding too many ads being published on the same day/magazine. Your advantage: you can ask for a better price in exchange for your flexibility and your ad will be more visible.

Same principle: if you really want a « premium » position for your ad because this is where your brand should appear but you don’t have enough budgets to pay this « premium » position, then do floating with a specific position! Of course, your rate won’t be as good as if you were doing floating without specific position, but at least you will get a premium position without paying the premium fee usually applied to this specific spot.

VI- Advertise during « Off peaks »

We mentioned this in our previous article: « Should you really communicate during summer? » Yes of course! Off peaks, especially January, February and the summer are good moments to easily emerge at a much lower cost. Why? Because the advertising industry as a whole is very seasonal (March to June and September to December). Those periods are particularly crowded and more expensive. Off peak periods, on the other hand, will allow you to be more visible with a reduced budget, because there are less advertisers and media will be more inclined to offering you competitive packages.

VII- Do not forget to ask about editorials!

Last but not least, editorials. This is not something you should ask for in every country. Indeed, in countries such as the USA, it’s usually forbidden to ask about editorials when you buy advertising. However, in some other areas in Europe or Asia, it actually is possible. It’s usually a small text, along with a picture you provide, which will be displayed in a section such as « Our favorites » or « Spotlight » in order to provide you with one additional media occurrence. This is always a free service and should be asked for before or during your negotiation. Certainly not after!

Wishing you the best results for your media plan! Get in touch with us on our website and optimize your media buying budget!

Feel free to Submit a media brief !

Erick Gommeaux - Founder & CEO of Adintime.com

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