As the media industry continues to change shape, many businesses find themselves starting to question where they are sitting on the value change. Are you still relevant to the people who buy from you? Are you more relevant to a new and different group of people? Do you still need your existing suppliers?
As the purses tighten and people look for higher ground, one thing you can be sure of is that many organisatioins are going to be looking to move closer to the money and if that means moving across someone else, then tough. Areas where I think you will see this are: (beware, may not be pleasant reading)
1. Ad networks bolstering their client direct proposition
These guys are smart and have nailed their proposition. If it doesn’t work you don’t pay. They have the technology, they have the hook onto the advertisers’ site, they have the skills to trade the right media. Don’t be fooled in thinking this is about finding the right advertiser to fit their unsold. They’ll trade what suits and what works. To be honest a fairly compelling offering and something I think agencies need to argue hard against to prove their value. Ad networks see this. They have seen how Google can move past the media agencies as well as service the small businesses. Agencies will all talk about having to have central tracking, hence the danger or dealing direct, but this can’t go on forever.
2. Agencies start to forward buy
In many ways the counter to the above point. Ad networks only really appeared because media owners didn’t want to admit they weren’t selling all their inventory and didn’t want surplus unsold to affect yield. So they gave it to the ad networks to repackage. Agencies got lulled in the wonders of CPA and CPC buying (when times were busy and buyers were only too happy to have prepackaged, definite delivered deals). Agencies lost ground on the technical side of mass optimisation across multiple sites and tend to use licensed off the shelf technology with no competitive advantage. By not taking a risk the ad networks have taken all the margin (20%-30% on gross vs a 8% for an agency). Agencies still have the respect and ear of their clients and I think it won’t be long before some agencies start to forward buy with certain media owners. Get a small group and start to buy up the excess. Prices will mitigate risk. Risk and reward can be shared with an open minded client and pressure can be applied on the media owner. It needs a different level of trading with some serious underwriting and planning – but there is money to be made.
3. Publishers go for consumer direct money
“They already do!” I can hear you saying. The do indeed, many publishers will have a commercial partnership arm, or product arm or customer direct. What ever they call it, it tends to be inbedded deals, almost affiliate plus and to be honest many see this as backfill, playing second fiddle to selling ads to agencies. The reality is for many large publishers the penny is starting to drop that there are too many people in the boat and by the time everyone has taken a cut, there isn’t too much left for them. They know their readers, viewers, listeners, surfers (all of the above) buy and consume, thats the whole point of advertsiing with them. “So how about we try and start to sell direct to them”. The key is that this needs to be marketed and managed correctly and with focus and not necessarily “Yahoo Beef Burgers”, but the right structure will work. Customer money can no longer be the poor cousin, no longer every advertiser and their dog. For years media owners have been talking about the relationship their audience has with their brand, surely this is true realisation of that relationship. Share of wallet not share of spend.