Bringing Media Owners In On The Accountability Party

Times are tough. Folks are being made redundant, clients are focused delivering their bottom lines and generally moving away from brand campaigns and media owner revenues are in free fall across many sectors. ITV are announcing their profit results on Wednesday and from what I’ve heard, it’s not going to be pretty. There are similar stories across a number of other media owners. 

However, what’s quickly becoming apparent is that any medium that can demonstrate accountability is on the receiving end of increased spend levels. It’s a no-brainer that paid search continues do well. But what about online display? This has traditionally been an area where the cost per thousand (CPM) impressions buying model dominates and clickthrough rate (CTR) has been the main reporting metric. My views on CTR are already known, so I won’t reiterate them. What I’m more interested in is the change in the way that media agencies are looking at online display accountability. 

A traditional cost per thousand impressions model is based on generating reach within a network / site / channel / target audience and using the creative to generate awareness or clicks. With CTRs falling and ‘Ignore-Thru’ rates rising, we need to do more to engage users. But should it be the sole responsibility of the media agency to deliver the client’s objectives? No. The cost per acquisition (CPA) model is widely used on direct response campaigns, with media owners who fail to deliver the target CPA being dropped from the schedule. 

But what about campaigns where there isn’t a hard acquisition target or where there’s a brand response objective? This where the media owner needs to come in on the accountability party. Based on the sales pitches I’ve seen recently, media owners have confidence in their product and their ability to deliver relevant audiences. If this is truly the case, I really believe that they should be happy to share the responsibility of the campaign with the media agency. This means moving from pure CPM buying to cost per click (CPC) / cost per view (CPV) / cost per landing (CPL) / cost per acquisition buying. This ensures the media owner has equal responsibility in shouldering the weight of the campaign. The media owner gets access to the ad server data, can see how activity from their site is doing on a post-click / post-impression basis and everyone’s a winner. 

What do you think?

3 thoughts on “Bringing Media Owners In On The Accountability Party

  1. Interesting thought, and I can see the benefit from the client/agency side. From the media owner (though non-sales) perspective, two issues spring to mind

    1. The pricing: As you will know, negotiations can be pretty tough at time. At least with CPM, a view is a view. Different metrics (CPC/CPA etc) will mean different things for different clients (e.g. a car would pay far more than an FMCG brand) and so each deal will have to effectively be negotiated individually outside of any trade deals. If the media owner pitches a deal low e.g. to use remnant inventory, then the agency will be inclined to remember that further down the line when demand is greater 🙂

    2. The environment: A mixture of branding and DR on a site is fine, but some brands may be uncomfortable being alongside some of the more overt DR. On TV, price normally splits these into daypart with DR in the day and branding in primetime. Online doesn’t (yet) have this split, and so sites may need to work on separating out their infrastructure (no matter how arbitrarily) in order to appease any high-end clients who may not look too favourably on being next to an ambulance chaser.

    Look forward to reading other people’s thoughts on this

  2. Interesting! Am sure it’s not a media first but it made brand republic which suggests it’s a rarity at any rate: the campaign to promote my other half’s new single is based on a a performance based model: the label will only paying publishers when people view the ad to watch the promo video for the single, rather than simply by the number of page views:

    I’m not sure it’s exactly a cost-per-engagement model, but def somewhere in between the idea of cost per acquisition and cost per click / impression, but then again I’m not a media buyer so I’d be v interested to hear your thoughts!

  3. @simon: I agree that this is a bit of a minefield and that it wouldn’t work on a group deal level. However, a planner / buyer should always be looking to negotiate the best value and the way the market’s looking, there’s scope for these buying models to be developed.

    Ultimately, this needs to be approached on a case by case basis, so a planner / buyer should look at their media schedules line by line, consider channels / environments and negotiate the best deals, using performance based models.

    @katy: really great stuff and a fine example of this in practice. Would be great to see a case study on this at the end of the campaign! 🙂

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