Banners or Buyers?

I think I shared this in my social media feed when I read it earlier in the year, but it popped back up on my radar and it’s more true than ever. Give it a read — it’s worth your while to spend some time understanding exactly what’s happening here…

My opinion is that they are still missing the point (by a country mile) because the reporter is talking about how the change in targeting will reduce the number of sites across which the advertising is spread, reducing revenue spent on smaller websites in favor of larger (more brand-recognizable) websites and content networks.

The piece of the puzzle they are missing is this: if a small website is delivering a more targeted audience, more qualified leads, and a better response rate, and a better conversion rate than larger sites or networks, there is no logical reason they would be left off a campaign buy — especially if a human being is monitoring, reviewing, and making recommendations based on performance.

As a matter of fact, if a site (no matter its size and traffic) focused on delivering the best visitor experience and content designed to grow a more engaged audience who trusts their recommendation and advertising partners, they would be able to offer advertisers access to a higher quality, more active audience of consumers who are likely to take action and respond to offers of products and services positioned to deliver them value.

And if site owners and content publishers develop those ultra-qualified and responsive audiences, they will be able to be more selective and increasingly choosier about the ads which appear on their site. It won’t mater that they cant deliver the thousands (or millions) of impressions being sought by the bulk-banner-buyers. If they deliver the right offer to this ideal audience the smaller sites will be able to deliver a high number of qualified leads than a site only designed to deliver impressions.

Here’s the tough part

The smaller sites are more likely to arrive at this more influential level if they started out by being incredibly discerning about the ads they allow on their website from day one.

Mandate custom creative designed to appeal to their audience (even if they have to redesign the banner art themselves) rather then allow generic offers and images to appear on the site. These custom ads will deliver 10X the results from a much smaller percentage of impressions.

And once you break out of this buy-it-by-the-pound mentality, you can set your own price and advertisers will pay it because you delivered the goods that the programmatic campaigns can only promise.

Your media company already owns these powerful niche sites

Local television sites, weekly neighborhood newspaper sites, local niche and lifestyle magazine sites, and especially radio station websites all have this kind of high-value audience — but you’ve been tricked into thinking you don’t have enough impressions to “compete with the big boys” so you take pennies per impression and settle for a small share of what you could command if you applied a little more strategy to the way you present the value you’re actually delivering and focused on the qualitative results of your digital campaigns rather than the quantitative delivery of raw, valueless, banner impressions.

I have created and sold strategic campaigns where the advertiser was excited about 250 banner impressions he’d received because it resulted in 10 clicks to a specific page on his website. He was excited because he knew they were the “right” 10 clicks and those 10 people took action which carried the conversation and direct contact further.

As a matter of fact, while I was in the room sharing these early stats, he called their national marketing department to brag about the results he’d received in his first week, because they’d invested in an impressions-based campaign that hadn’t delivered even 10 clicks, but had cost them thousands and thousands of impressions over the course of several weeks.

Some old concepts still hold true

Early in my digital marketing career I created a resource to help explain my philosophy and strategy regarding the use of banners in advertising.

I was the Digital Sales Manager at a radio station (their first!) and it was vital that my team of traditional media salespeople not only understood the wisdom behind selling access to a qualified online audience (just as they understood the qualitative nature of their on-air radio audience) but that their customers and ad-buyers also understood the value of appealing to a smaller, more active, more passionate audience than they were being pitched by the giant mega-eyeball banner impression sellers like a (how they doing these days??)

The resource was and I still maintain that website to this day, because even though it was created almost a decade ago, everything on it is even more true than the day I hit “publish” and it went live. The only info that’s really out of date is the old contact details for the consulting company I last worked with!  Heck, the industry data is probably even more embarrassing in regard to “banner blindness” and banner campaign performance!)

Feel free to point your own customers (and media sales teams!) to the site. It offers a healthy dose of reality among the promise of impressions.

And hey… if you’re interested in having this message delivered to your media sales team, I’d love to come speak in-person at your next sales conference (or even remotely via webinar at your weekly sales meeting). Just click here to contact me.


One of my favorite marketing buddies (and past broadcast industry co-workers) Chuck and I used to talk about allowing radio listeners to buy out the ad inventory prior to the next commercial break by donating enough money to the station to “buy back” the ad space from whatever advertisers were scheduled to play next.

There was still value to the advertiser — they would get mentioned during the offer to “buy back” the spot even if the audience was successful in their effort to skip it:

Don’t want to hear that car commercial ad from Local Car Dealer coming up next? You still have time to buy their spot back!

The potential here was that your station would be perceived as being on the side of the listener, while still promoting advertisers, and potentially earning more money on spot revenue than it was originally sold for. You could also allow the money to accumulate in order to create a commercial-free hour.

I still think the concept has merit (reach out to me if you want to discuss it in more detail), and I bring it up because it looks like a group of people took the concept and skewed it to apply to subway billboard advertising:

“For the next two weeks, a Tube station in South London will create a rip in the space time continuum. The Citizens Advertising Takeover Service has replaced 68 adverts in Clapham Common with pictures of cats. This isn’t a clever marketing stunt for a pet food brand, or a guerrilla campaign for a new TV series. The people behind it are volunteers who raised the money on Kickstarter.”

Their effort was nothing to sneeze at. Their Kickstarter campaign raised almost US$30,000 to accomplish this feat of creative commercialism.

Think about how you could apply this concept from a Media Rep standpoint.

Why not get advertisers who support the same cause to band together and run advertising campaigns that aren’t filled with banal advertising messages?

What if you helped non-profits find advertisers who would donate their ad space to promoting their worthy cause?

Lots of revolutionary ideas to explore here…

The ‘About You’ Page

For this newly launched project, it was important to very specifically define who would get the most value from the content on Media Rep Revolution.

This site is devoted to the success of individual media advertising sales professionals in the fields of Radio, Television, Newspaper, and Digital. The content isn’t especially designed for the media companies employing these sales reps, rather it is intended to improve the individual careers of the reps themselves. With a mission so clearly delineated as this (and so clearly not intended for just anyone), we thought it was important to include a page which profiled the ideal personality traits of anyone considering membership in the Media Rep Revolution.

Enter, the About You page.

Traditional media continues to lose an ever increasing share of their annual revenues to digital advertising. The Media Rep Revolution extols a process and philosophy by which traditional media companies can recapture more than their fair share of those dollars.

I once worked within a consulting company that felt by helping the media properties earn more, it could also help the media reps earn more — but that wasn’t always the case. Especially when the media companies failed to properly train their sales reps or help them understand the new reality of media sales (usually because they didn’t understand it themselves) and in some cases mandate actions from the sales team in direct opposition to the advice and guidance they hired our consulting company to provide! All the while, sales managers continue to increase sales budgets without any clue as to how their reps are going to meet those budgets in the face of shrinking audiences, increasing competition, and the rise of automated commodity-based programmatic ad buying.

The media company’s goals are not always the goals of the media rep’s (nor should they be in every instance) but, it’s more important than ever that the media sales reps themselves take control of their own professional careers and personal brands and begin to elevate themselves and their careers beyond any individual media company brands for whom they currently work. They (you!) need to break out of the box of commodity pricing you’ve been forced into and earn the position of a trusted, consultative, marketing advisor.

You need to quit relying on advertising agencies and bargain-hunting media buyers to bring up an ever shrinking amount of price-oriented business to bid on.

You need to stop solely relying on monitoring your competition or combing through market spending reports to identify new clients (that money is already gone!)

Media sales professional need new techniques for business prospecting and for reaching and influencing decision-makers.

You need creative ideas for pitching marketing campaigns to clients who’ve never considered media advertising before, and have the ability to create a whole new budget based on the ideas you bring them.

You need to know how to craft and deliver a proposal designed to earn agreement  and win authorization to move forward in the buying process.

And you need to market and brand yourself just as you would for any company who advertises with you — complete with an overt Call-To-Action built right into your personal marketing campaign.

This new approach is the entire reason for the launch of the Media Rep Revolution and why it was so important to share with which of you will receive the most value from the content on this website — so that you can decide for yourself how to best invest your personal time and resources in order to achieve your own success.