October 9, 2018

Ross Yaeger photo

The digital media environment continues to change at a rapid pace. In order to sell digital sponsorship with confidence, we need to stay ahead of the pace of change by educating ourselves about the latest trends.

The trend toward programmatic ad buying continues to increase, and this is a bit of a pain point for us in public media. Because of our language restrictions, we can’t wholeheartedly embrace this trend alongside other advertisers. 

Clients who engage in programmatic buying are using a publisher or ad network/agency to set a determined budget, upper/lower CPM, and start/end dates. The process is self-service so when the buyer clicks “go,” the buy is executed automatically, non-stop, until the budget or end-date is reached. 

If you’re talking to a prospect about digital sponsorship, you should assume they’re engaging in some sort of programmatic buying. Common platforms are through Google and Facebook, but the practice is becoming more universal. In fact, an April report from eMarketer shows that $46 billion will be spent on programmatic advertising this year, meaning that 82.5 percent of digital display ads in the U.S. will be purchased through automated channels.

This doesn’t mean there’s not a valuable place for public media sponsorship.

Radio advertisers like digital.

There a strong case to be made to your clients for broadcast and digital to be sold together. Why? Because:

  • Merging broadcasting and digital gives additional reach and/or repetition.
  • 85% of radio advertisers also buy digital (RAB and BA 2017).
  • Digital generates 7.5% of average station revenue (RAB and BA 2017). This will grow as digital migration continues.
  • Public media’s audience, content, community, and uncluttered environment still entice buyers.

Be ready to position against programmatic.

Programmatic has a low barrier to entry, is low-maintenance, and increasingly common. But it does have its weaknesses. Significant percentages of media buyers cites the following – legitimate – concerns about programmatic: (eMarketer 2017)

  • 58% are concerned with fraud, because it does occur more easily with programmatic buying.
  • 58% are concerned about site quality and brand safety. It is hard to ensure that your ads are appearing on appropriate sites. 
  • 56% are worried about whether or not their ads will be seen. Programmatic buying can lead to content being less visible or appearing lower on the page.
  • 46% are concerned about targeting the wrong audience. Some programmatic buys offer the option to pay more for premier audiences, but it’s hard to know who you’re reaching. 

So, talk through these points with your prospects.

Public media’s strength, by contrast, is (almost) all about the audience. Our audience is:

  • Educated
  • High-earning
  • Culturally active
  • Community-minded

But, they are also “lean-in listeners.”

We wouldn’t perform nearly as well as we do without the quality of public media programming. Our high levels of trust and engagement with our audience are incredibly valuable. 

When positioning yourself against programmatic buying, consider these points to be successful:

  • Maintain a boutique vibe! 
    Start viewing yourself as small, but high-quality. This works in small or large markets. Sure, anyone would like more scale. But a small, high-touch attitude can bring a lot of success.
  • Offer campaigns others can’t.
    We consider buying broadcast and digital to be common, but other channels can’t provide the opportunity to buy these together at the same time. Take advantage of this!
    • Multiple digital platforms (audio, display, app, newsletter…)
    • Unique sponsorships
    • Emphasize your uncluttered environment and that your space is brand safe.
  • It’s also essential that you be professional and knowledgeable about digital and its standards.
    • Make sure that account managers are well-trained in digital. It’s not enough to throw some terms and examples at them. Make sure your team is fluent and can reinforce that high-touch, boutique approach.
    • Maintain high-quality marketing materials (with substantial attention paid to digital) to demonstrate that your shop knows what you’re doing.
    • Have a well-defined process to send screenshots of ads and reports to the client.
    • Similarly, have a well-defined process for forecasting and trafficking so you don’t get into a sticky situation with the client. 

Public media stands to win big against some of the shortcoming of programmatic buying when you embrace the unique qualities our medium offers in the ad-buying space. 

Manage digital buyers and agencies
Ross Yaeger photo