Whether you’re a seasoned media executive or a relative newcomer, one fact is clear. Google and Facebook have captured an enormous portion of digital ad revenue. This leaves a small percentage of the remaining ad spend for media organizations to fight over. Salesforce integration is increasing among organizations. Fierce battles have played out at national and local levels where ad sales executives have found it challenging to meet their quotas.
The 2020 pandemic brought disruption to the ad sales industry. While “less down is the new up” was a concept we heard many companies using to describe even the pre-2020 pandemic market, “surviving the times and waiting to see the long-term, industry-wide impacts” has been the more recent point of view. From our perspective, media organizations need to think beyond survival.
Three Ways to Work Toward “Up is the New Up” Model
1. Expand Your Product Mix:
Ad Sales organizations have been shifting print publications online. Beyond this, they will need to push further to compete. They will need to continue to invest in expanding their product mix outside of pure print and digital ad sales with offerings such as subscriptions, events, and agency services. Digital subscription-based businesses showed great resilience during 2020 and publishers benefited from creating lower-cost, high-quality digital magazines, and other subscriptions to foster more consistent engagement. Virtual events will continue to be the buzz in the new year and an easy path to revenue diversification. This will provide an opportunity to leverage countless net-new digital assets from events that can be repackaged and redistributed. Publishers can be innovative, expanding into agency-like services to stem the loss of revenue across other media types with creative services. Agency and global consulting behemoths will continue to converge rapidly through M&A. This will lead to more innovation opportunities and healthy competition in the space. Publishers can take advantage by becoming a one-stop shop for their advertisers.
2. Innovate Faster:
With such exponential rates of change, there is much opportunity for ad sales organizations to innovate. This will ensure positioning to pivot in response to market changes and at the right time. Ensuring not get left in the dust. We see inhibitors to such innovation.
There is a general lack of rigor around business transformation spanning people, processes, and platform aspects of advertising sales. There is progress. It’s often slow or in response to organizational fire drills. Typically roles are not well defined, processes are left broken for extended periods, platforms like CRM are not leveraged effectively, and dirty data proliferate in the absence of data governance. Ad sales organizations should invest further in their infrastructure to be best prepared for the swell of work on the horizon. Down periods can be the perfect time to double down on process refinement, role changes, technology innovations, and training to ensure your team and your technologies are prepared for what’s next.
3. Fine Tune Programmatic Offerings:
During times of uncertainty, advertisers are placing more faith in programmatic buys. This not only puts them in the driver’s seat when it comes to their advertising decisions but knowing their dollars are getting actual engagement with pricing models like CPC and CPA. Digital publishers who have not yet invested in programmatic should assess how to best open up inventory to their customers to create a more automated and reliable ad-buying process. Publishers can also reap the benefits of net new ad revenue through lesser-known advertisers in the marketplace who have not been customers otherwise. This will reduce customer acquisition costs and operational overhead typical to managing smaller advertisers.
Now is the time to take programmatic data–insights into buying behaviors and performance metrics–to the next level with meaningful investments in analytics. This enables these publishers to have a competitive edge as the industry starts to pick back up. Providing the ability to offer the right products to customers at the right time while increasing inventory availability. As well as ensuring investments are in digital products that will yield the highest click rates.
Traditional print and digital ad sales are here to stay. Competing in a post-pandemic world will require diversification of products, heavy investment in technology and analytics, and investment in programmatic to increase effectiveness, efficiency, and client trust.
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