Let’s face it: Media failures happen to the best of us. Sometimes they’re simple mistakes that go unnoticed, and sometimes they’re catastrophic failures that can ruin a business. The vast majority of the time, though, they’re preventable.
At its core, a media failure is when the value exchange between a marketer and a media company breaks down. This can happen because a marketing strategy was poorly planned, the implementation was rushed, or the media company was unable to actually deliver the audience it promised.
That’s why at New Brave World, I always caution the teams we advise to be careful to consider legal timelines and the time and cost exposure that’s connected to custom content creation. It’s also important to ensure you’ve reserved the proper billable audience to deliver what is required within the campaign window so you stay on track and on budget.
Although it might be tempting to pretend a media failure never happened, a single failure can be seriously detrimental to a startup or emerging media company.
Sales teams spend months or sometimes years putting together six- to seven-figure media and integrated media partnerships, and the anticipation of new revenue can blur prudent decision-making by both established and less experienced media executives.
Startups must be sure they have the proper working capital to create custom content because they will not always be compensated for production exposure until the media has been fulfilled and proof of performance has been accepted by the buyer, which could be six to nine months after their production kicks off.
All too often, new media companies invest more time and resources than they can afford into creating a successful campaign, and the resulting financial drain on the business is, in itself, a failure.
Early case studies are critically important to brand marketers, and they are often the doorway to expanded revenue. Media is a hyperconnected industry in which planners and buyers are always on the move, so word can get around fast when properties don’t perform. In this environment, a failed marketing campaign can cause the loss of customers that might scuttle the entire business before it even gets started.
Media failures can be minimized, however, especially if a business is careful and attentive to the mistakes of others in their own decision-making. Here are five ways to keep your media startup in the safe zone:
Your company spends months attracting a media buy, so be sure to carefully orchestrate the paperwork process and make certain you can deliver what you promise. Be very careful when producing custom content, and be sure to understand the timeline and financial risks involved with that phase of the process.
Native advertising and custom content creation are expensive, and approval cycles with premium brand marketers can be time-consuming. Many entrepreneurs underestimate the time and cost involved with these kinds of programs, which can quickly push into their margin or budget that had been planned for audience acquisition.
I suggest budgeting carefully and always doing your best to cover the cost of production through production fees or an addendum to the standard IAB terms and conditions.
Premium marketers and media buying agencies utilize a variety of technologies such as DART or Sizmek to verify what has been delivered, as well as services like Integral Ad Science and MOAT to measure viewability and prevent ad fraud.
While effective in stopping misrepresentations of audience size and ensuring each digital ad can be viewed, these technologies generally only accept 70 percent to 80 percent of a publisher’s actual audience, which can leave billable delivery short when not properly hedged at the beginning of a campaign. To avoid this, media companies need to pad their projected fulfillment plan by at least 25 percent to ensure they deliver what they’re required to deliver.
Media companies must understand the details of their audience and inventory and should invest in an external trafficking expert to protect revenue, manage inventory, and stabilize and grow RPM.
Even campaigns that last a full calendar year do not have room for delivery surprises — brand marketers are investing their media dollars in your platform, and it’s your responsibility to know you’re meeting the daily or weekly KPIs needed to protect and grow the investment.
Be honest with your partners from day one. If your company is having unexpected issues with fulfillment, set up a meeting and request additional time or new ways to fulfill the campaign.
Remember that everyone in the mix wants to see the partnership succeed, and in my experience, folks will do whatever they can to not only create a successful campaign, but also ensure there’s room to expand the partnership in the future.
Media might be a risky industry at times, but by planning ahead, staying on top of schedules and budgets, and being honest with everyone involved, you can keep your company from ending up in the red — or from becoming the victim of a catastrophic media mistake.
Jordan English is a digital content entrepreneur who specializes in content and media innovation. At New Brave World, he works closely with established content and technology companies and select entrepreneurs to build and scale their products. His work has garnered numerous creative awards, including the National ADDY for Interactive Communication, and he is a guest speaker at various technology, creative, and entrepreneurial conferences.