posted by Cory Klinnert at 9:18 AM
I can still remember back to the days of thumbing through the yellow pages to find someone to fix the sink, fix the car, or even to find a place to eat. Along came the internet. Habits slowly began to change. As search engines and local directories have evolved, the yellow pages have become less and less relevant. With nearly 70% of mobile phone users owning smart phones, most of us have a tool much more powerful than a phone book right in our pocket. A simple search on the computer or smart phone now can give you access to information like menus, pricing, reviews, maps, and all of the information that can help you as a consumer make an informed choice when searching for products and services.
Yellow pages do not have a chance. A static directory without access to the information you are looking for is archaic. Yellow page and directory companies are doing everything they can to shift content online to battle against losing clients. Bottom line is that the yellow pages for all intents and purposes is dead. There are few exceptions. Businesses who are still trying to attract senior citizens who are sitting in their rocking chair next to their rotary phones can still have some success in the yellow pages. However, even these consumers will soon be fully transitioned into online search. As an advertiser, you can have a much greater impact on your potential customers through online strategies. For a fraction of what you are spending on yellow page advertisements, you can have some great visibility (and results!) online. Whether using paid search(PPC) or optimizing your Google Places (push pins on the map) profile, online can give you an immediate impact and cost you less than advertising in the yellow pages. Search engine advertising makes sense on many levels. Everyday, there are thousands of people actively searching for the products and services you offer. You need to be listed where they can see you to get you in the conversation. Get in the game! To take our yellow page/search engine survey, click here.
For more information on how Avenue Right can help you to leverage your online presence, click the request a demo button.
posted by Avenue Right at 5:47 PM
Sales are down, or at minimum they could be better. You, the business owner, read your company’s financials and determine now is the time to take action. You call a meeting to discuss your advertising and marketing because the only way you can get sales up is to get your phone ringing more, increase store traffic, and/or bring more people to your website.
Consequently, you and your team decide it’s time for an advertising campaign to introduce more people in your local trade area to your business, or to offer something of value to get them to try your product or service again.
You need to find the best way possible to reach as much of your target audience in the local trade area where you do business, and with the highest amount of frequency for the lowest amount of money. Easy, right?
After a quick internet search, you realize this might not be easy after all.
And after weeks of searching for advertising opportunities, calling media outlets to get information, and listening to 100's of hours of sales pitches, you’re overwhelmed. In your local trade area, there are over 10 different types of advertising media that you could use, packaged into over 300 media buying opportunities.
But each package or proposal results in a different idea of where to place those advertising dollars—and why—largely based on the media type sold by the representative a buyer is meeting with.
So you decide to seek a professional media buyer from an agency to help, and quickly learn that the dozens of small agencies in your area very expensive, and the information they give is confusing.
After all, each agency knows more than next about planning and buying media. Some agencies tell you to broaden your trade area, while others tell you to change your target demographic. Still others try to impress you with an analysis of media data, and another advises a market study to help you determine who your customers are, where they are located, and what you should be selling them.
So how can a small business owner make sense of all that information and advice to maximize their advertising dollars?
By using technology to plan and place advertising.
Web-based technology has made nearly every business process more efficient, from accounting and online banking to contact management and internal collaboration.
With media buying automation technology, small businesses can benefit from these same efficiency gains in the advertising and media buying process.
No need to spend hours gathering information, listening to media sales pitches, and trying to determine what media package will work for your advertising campaign. Tasks that used to take hours and weeks now take minutes and days.
They key to being a successful business is being able to take advantage of market knowledge quickly. You can take control of your advertising, and do it yourself when it makes the most sense for your business.
That unsure feeling you as a business owner deciding how and where to spend your advertising dollars is gone.
Learn more about media buying automation and how it's helping small businesses maximize their advertising dollars and get new customers.
posted by Avenue Right at 5:45 PM
Buying media and advertising inventory is a lot like buying seats on an airplane.
The buyer knows the price of the commodity fluctuates, and the guy in the seat (or placement) next to yours may very well have gotten a better rate.
Rates are influenced by how far in advance they are confirmed between the buyer and seller, how much inventory is left at the time of sale, and how desirable that inventory is. Again, it all depends on supply and demand.
Paying the right price for a great seat on that flight to Jamaica is an art form. So is negotiating placement and rate in media buying.
Here are a few ways buying airline tickets is similar to planning and buying advertising inventory:
- Time it right. Media buyers bring a great deal of value to their clients in their ability to determine the right timing and delivery of an advertising message. Likewise, the process of requesting information and negotiating specific placements should also be done early enough to get good seats, so to speak, but not too early in the event that market conditions change or audiences move away from a given local media outlet in favor of another. This is where it’s helpful to get an idea of the average rates over a period of time.
- Gather information and compare offers. Once the buyer picks a destination (or, a local radio station, for example), the next step is to determine how to get there (how to deliver the message), and how much to pay to get there in that way. A conscientious buyer gathers information and compares offers from multiple sources, be it airlines or media outlets.
- Get the right placement. Where to sit on the airplane. Window or aisle? First class, or back by the lavatory? In the radio buy example, peak drive time, or Run of Schedule, when the bulk of the ads in the schedule could air overnight, when the target audience is asleep?
- Watch for good rates. Keeping an eye on trends in rates, gathering current information, and scheduling not too early but enough in advance to secure a good seat at a decent price as the inventory fills up.
- Consider time spent. Is it a long flight, driving up the overall cost of a campaign with that local radio station? In media buying, this is similar to the volume of inventory purchased and the relationships established with the sellers, whereas in purchasing an airline ticket, it’s like using frequent flier discounts as a loyal airline customer.
Other considerations for the media buyer are alternatives to vying for mainstream advertising opportunities, such as the most popular country station. Increased relevance might be found in more niche outlets, such as a talk radio or alternative music station, with content offerings and programming that are a good fit for the demographic being targeted.
Getting the best placement and rate depends on the buyer’s understanding of the inventory available, market conditions, how rates have fluctuated over time, and how they might change between planning confirming, and ultimately running the ads. Or flying to Jamaica.
Gathering up-to-date information on a buy is no longer an option, but a necessity. Internet technology eases the process of finding the best seat at the best rate for media buyers and frequent fliers. Think about travel sites like Kayak, Orbitz, or Expedia.
Media outlet contacts change just as quickly as inventory rates and audiences can change, so while gathering one piece of information, why not collect the rest in a standardized electronic RFP? For media buyers, technology addresses the need for
- Affordable access to more up-to-date, accurate, and actionable information on an advertising marketplace, and
- Elimination of redundant and manual tasks related to gathering, analyzing, and acting on information required for planning a media buy.
Learn more about local media buying automation and how it can help you keep up on rates, inventory, supply, and demand.
posted by Avenue Right at 5:43 PM
Pretend for a moment that you’re shopping for a used sedan to make those lengthy commutes a bit more comfortable. Two vehicles are in the running, the same make and model—a blue one at Lot A, and a gray one at Lot B. Both have the same low mileage, give or take a thousand, and from what you can tell, they seem to have the same features.
You’d like to do a closer comparison of the two vehicles, their features and pricing. Unfortunately, the research and decision process is similar to the typical process for planning a media buy.
It means that in order to evaluate the two vehicles, you have to pay separately for the data needed to compare the two purchases.
In every other industry, the information required to evaluate a purchase and weigh its risks and benefits is provided by the seller. Eventually that information is provided, too, by a community of people who have experience with the product or service.
But in media buying, the data needed to consider an advertising purchase comes at a hefty price. Ad agencies subscribe to data services to support their media buying decisions, and the media outlets subscribe to this same data in order to be rated and hope for a top spot.
Why not just ask the media salesperson for the data to persuade you that their station is the right fit for the media mix?
Our sales guys at both Lots A and B would be happy to provide whatever information they had in order to sell us on why their sedan best suited our needs and was therefore the better purchase. For free.
A Look Under the Hood
This model could easily work in media buying, too, if agencies have the tools to collect, evaluate, and take action on precisely the information they need from sellers—no more, no less. Really, there’s no point in analyzing all that data until the media buyer first knows what inventory is available.
When data has to be purchased separately for any product—even the ink and air of advertising—the added cost is passed on to the consumer.
One advertising channel that has done well to offer verifiable audience data without added cost to the media buyer is online. Audience measurement services such as Quantcast® offer online audience information in real time, generally at no cost to buyer or seller. Savvy online media buyers have numerous ways to access data about a website’s traffic, and those sellers have the information they need to show how the target audience of the campaign is already visiting that website.
Buyers of traditional media such as broadcast radio and television should come to expect the same open exchange of information for the offline part of the mix as they can get for online advertising. Internet technology and SaaS-based (Software as a Service) products can provide the kind of streamlined, collaborative, trusting environment needed for the packaging and sale of not only online but also traditional media, making it easier to buy.
Enabling the process of collecting, managing, and collaborating on advertising information allows media buyers to get the current data they need directly from the seller, at the right time in their planning process. It eliminates the need to pay large fees for complex data sets of which they may only use half to plan and buy media for their clients that year, and time spent analyzing ratings points for dayparts that may or may not even be available.
With most agencies, the margins for pure media buying are decreasing, yet offering this service is a core necessity to providing their other high-margin services, such as design or branding. Contributing to this are inefficiencies in the media buying process, not having access to the tools and information needed, or having access but paying too much for it.
See how Avenue Right is helping small businesses save time and money in a demo of our media buying automation solution.
Photo Credit: iStock
posted by Avenue Right at 5:42 PM
Decisions are influenced by a number of factors and a variety of thought processes.
Emotions might take over the decision-making process completely, leading to the purchase of the first option we see based on our immediate reaction to it (“Oh, it’s so shiny! I’ll look good driving this car!”). We might base our decision on past experience (“I got this kind last time and like it”), or on a friend’s recommendation (“this worked for me, and we have similar interests”), purely on intuition (“this just feels like the right purchase for me”), or on any combination of factors.
Another approach, one we’re already using in business decisions, is the rational decision-making model. Since it's a logic-based evaluation of weighted decision criteria and examination of alternatives in order to make the best decision, this could even be referred to more simply as due diligence. Most of us are using this decision-making process already, whether formally and systematically or on the white board.
The rational decision-making model can be used to construct a media plan and illustrate the media buying process while highlighting two important steps—prioritizing decision criteria, and considering alternatives.
7 Steps for Deciding Where to Advertise
The media planner/buyer’s decision process, then, would go something like this:
Identify the Problem/Opportunity: Need to raise awareness for a new business, or promote a sale.
List Decision Criteria: For advertising, among the decision criteria would be reach and frequency , CPM, CPP, GRP, total impressions, ad placement, content relevancy to the target audience, and of course, overall cost.
Prioritize Decision Criteria: What matters more, CPM or ad placement? To help compare and evaluate qualitative and quantitative decision criteria together, assign a numeric weight to each criterion (for example, $25-$40 CPM = 10, $41-63 CPM = 7; primetime = 10, front page = 8, etc.) and create a decision matrix to help evaluate the information collected in the RFP and advertising rate request process.
Consider the Alternatives: Have all available media channels and relevant media partners been evaluated for the campaign? What local online advertising placements would complement the offline campaign? Are there any cost-effective, niche local advertising opportunities to consider in the media mix?
Evaluate: Compared against the weighted decision criteria, which advertising opportunities best meet campaign goals, within budget? How would the campaign budget best be allocated across media channels?
Make Decisions: Based on the evaluation, choose the best-performing options to build the media mix for the advertising campaign.
Execute, evaluate, optimize, evaluate.
This decision-making model assumes access to all the information needed for evaluation based on specific criteria, in addition to consideration of alternatives. For media buyers, this often means collecting and reviewing a pile of information that seems large enough to fill the coverage area of the campaign.
The most cost-effective way to gather and evaluate all this information and ensure that the ads reach the most people in the target audience, most effectively, at the lowest cost is to automate the RFP and rate request process. Learn more about Avenue Right’s web-based media planning and buying software, or see how it works in a demo.
posted by Avenue Right at 5:40 PM
Local advertising is a multi-billion-dollar industry in the United States. It’s supported by more than 2 million local advertisers and 30,000 media buyers, agencies, and planners interacting with 200,000 media sales representatives to plan and place advertising.
These advertisers have more ways than ever before to reach their target audience, from broadcast to cable to niche community publications and websites.
The average local market has upwards of 400 media outlets representing traditional and online advertising opportunities. Each buyer-seller conversation results in a different idea of where to place those advertising dollars, largely based on the media type sold by the representative a buyer is meeting with at the time.
The media landscape is constantly changing—rates change daily, inventory changes weekly, and the audience changes based on season, interest, and age. The media plan that works today won’t work a few months from now.
The data needed to evaluate these media outlets objectively is unavailable or cost-prohibitive to all but the major advertisers and their agencies—and it’s inherently biased. In today’s buy-sell environment, the person with the most information wins, but collecting and evaluating it all takes a lot of time.
Unless the process is automated.
Media buying automation means using technology to streamline media planning and buying processes. Automation cuts costs and reduces the time it takes to plan and place advertising by eliminating redundant, manual, administrative, and cumbersome processes.
Automating the process of buying traditional and online advertising space can reduce media planning time by up to 50%. In fact, A Centro study found that 50% of respondents spent their time in spreadsheets and email, while media buying automation increased productivity by 31-65% (as cited in a MediaPost article).
So where to start with media buying automation? The RFP process.
Automating the Advertising RFP Process
An automated RFP process helps media buyers collect, organize, and analyze information from media sellers more efficiently. Media buyers save time by tracking and managing RFPs, media outlet contacts and communications, and advertising proposals from a central location rather than disparate systems, spreadsheets, emails, and sticky notes.
Thos who take advantage of media buying automation technology can collect the most current audience and rate information from more media sellers across more media channels in less time. More information means more leverage in the negotiation process, resulting in better media buys.
Find out how media buying automation works in a demo of Avenue Right, tailored to your media buying needs.
posted by Avenue Right at 5:38 PM
Back in the 1950s and ‘60s, media buying wasn’t as complicated as it is today. Advertisers could reach everyone in their local market—a few times—with mass media.
Today’s media landscape is decidedly more complicated. While its “fragmented” state brings more complexity to media buying, it also brings more opportunity to segment and target a consumer audience.
The right mix of local advertising reaches that audience where they live, work, and play. It delivers a message through more relevant, immediate, and in-the-moment media, moving consumers through the buying stages of awareness, consideration, and action.
Familiarity with the different media channels as well as the local market can help media buyers more narrowly target their audience and deliver the most relevant messaging based on location, demographic profile, and media habits.
Broadcast radio continues to be a leading source of information and entertainment across demographics. Based on a Monday-Sunday 24-hour weekly cume estimate, radio reaches 93% of all consumers in the U.S. every week.
Some benefits of radio advertising:
Targeted and local (geographically, demographically)
High recall even among distracted listeners
Flexibility for copy/creative changes and event-triggered campaigns
Mobility (listen in the car, at work, at home)
Strong ties to community, events, and promotions
Television continues to offer the greatest reach of all local media channels, and its ads are characterized by sensory impact and emotional engagement.
As an awareness medium, television advertising performs well in multi-channel campaigns designed to inform and persuade through different media and conversion paths. One study found that television advertising led to brand website visits more often than radio and print ads drove them online, with 26% going online to find more information within 30 days after viewing a television ad.
Additional benefits of television advertising:
Targeted (geographically, demographically, psychographically)
Connects with consumers through their involvement in the programming
“Intrusive” medium that makes an immediate impact through sight, sound, and action
High-impact branding capabilities
Original, engaging programming for high audience involvement and viewer loyalty
Broadcast television offers extensive reach and full DMA coverage for advertisers, and local cable television reaches a generally higher income audience with more niche programming and specific geographic targeting.
Declining print readership has received much attention from the industry over the past few years. For newspapers, much of this missing audience has gone online to read the news—of those respondents to the Pew Research Center’s 2008 news media consumption survey who had read the news the day before, only 25% read the print version. These online news sites are a great way to extend reach at a low CPM, and display ads on these sites may be part of an advertising package with space in the print version, or the placement may be thrown in as a value-add.
Some benefits of local print advertising:
Tangible media (touch/feel it) and portable
Good for coupons and sale events (inserts)
May be demographically, geographically, psychographically targeted
Engaged audience involved in content
Tangible media (touch/feel it) and portable
The internet is a cost-effective and measurable way to deliver an advertising message with high reach and frequency. For local advertisers, online advertising is an affordable way to raise awareness, promote events, and influence decision-making through easy access to information about a product or service.
Online advertising is useful at every stage in the decision process, from awareness to purchase:
Increased reach and frequency
Highly targeted (demographically, geographically, psychographically, behaviorally, linguistically)
Highly measurable and accountable with provable ROI
Can drive traffic directly to a website
Local search advertising is an effective way to generate website traffic and leads. Keywords can help advertisers further align their messaging with each stage of the decision funnel.
OOH advertising is any advertising that reaches consumers outside their homes, such as billboards, bus stops, and those loud and splashy ads on the back of the bathroom stall door.
In most cases OOH offers broad reach along with the ability to target a very specific location, such as the all-night diner off the next freeway exit. CPM is usually low, the ad is available 24/7, and unique formats such as digital OOH can be high-impact.
And finally, presence in social media—both paid and unpaid—is an essential component of the media mix. A good resource for more information on the role of social media in today’s advertising and marketing efforts is Brian Solis’ The Hybrid Theory Manifesto: The Future of Marketing, Advertising, and Communications.
So what's your media mix?
To learn more about creating an effective media mix for local advertising, download the white paper, Realize the Power of Multiple Media: 7 Steps to an Effective and Measurable Multi-Channel Advertising Campaign.
posted by Avenue Right at 5:34 PM
All advertising is, most fundamentally, an attempt to persuade an audience. We want those people to buy our products, to enlist our services, to support an organization or cause.
The media we use to deliver these messages should match the habits of our target audience, and the message needs to remain consistent, however it’s presented within the media mix.
Just as the media buyer needs to incorporate multiple media channels to reach an audience, the ads need to blend a combination of rhetorical appeals to be effective.
It’s not good enough anymore to tell the audience that a treat from Peggy’s Pie Palace is a guilt-free experience—we need some evidence telling us why it’s a low-calorie snack option.
The art of persuading an audience means using the three basic appeals that Aristotle first described: ethos, pathos, and logos.
This means using the appeal of personal character, emotion, or logic, respectively.
Ethos is the appeal of a speaker’s/actor's character or authority, such as the use of local celebrities or the business owner/employees in a company’s advertising.
This appeal gives character and personality to the message, making it easier for the audience to relate to, trust, or place authority in the figure represented.
Ethos may be represented differently in different media. Visual media has the benefit of using images, such as that of sports hero, where text-only ads and auditory media such as radio rely on style, tone, and name recognition to convey ethos.
Perhaps the most powerful tool in advertising, pathos is an appeal to the audience’s emotions. It can be used to create feelings of confidence and intrigue in a brand (“established in 1915”), to reinforce value (“find more time for you with Acme Widget”), or to promote a sense of urgency (“don’t spend another night with bedbugs”).
The emotions to which the message appeals may be many and varied: safety, well-being, pride, anger, insecurity, desire.
Logos is a logical appeal typically marked by facts, figures, and data. This information is quantifiable and helps us rationalize our decisions through hard data on money saved, time saved, higher status, and so on.
One tactic that combines all three rhetorical appeals is telling the audience how many people, just like them, have purchased a product or service. This social proof approach
helps lower perceived risk and lessens our insecurity about the purchase (pathos),
paints a concrete picture of market share through data (logos), and
introduces like-minded characters and personalities through testimonials (ethos).
Learn more about creating an advertising content strategy that results in decision and action. Get the complimentary white paper 3 Tips for Aligning Local Advertising with the Consumer Decision Process.
posted by Avenue Right at 5:30 PM
No matter what industry you’re in, meeting frequently with a lot of vendors and salespeople just isn’t feasible. The amount of time spent in those meetings could be otherwise spent growing a business or keeping customers happy.
It’s no different for small businesses placing local advertising. Meeting with hundreds of media salespeople can be costly and confusing. So what do you do? Either you don’t meet with them, or familiarity and bias leads to meeting with only selected media salespeople, no matter the changes in the advertising landscape or media consumption habits of the audience you want to reach.
The local advertising marketplace changes rapidly for both traditional and online media—rates fluctuate, inventory availability changes, and new formats and advertising packages are introduced every week.
Small businesses have two options--buy media on their own (“in-house”) and commit a lot of time and effort in order to create ROI in their advertising, or hire an ad agency to keep up with market changes and place effective, measurable advertising that increases visibility and generates sales.
Margins, Media, & Market Forces
Even in the second option, the core challenge remains—the ad agency has to deal with those market forces and fluctuations, too.
How agencies deal with this problem affects how they get paid. Ad agencies generally get paid when your media runs, and only if it runs. Every bit of research or data they spent time on or paid for in the planning process, and all the time spent finding rates and inventory and gathering proposals, cuts into the agency’s profit margin. For an agency, the media buys with the highest profit margins are those for which they need to deal with the smallest number of media outlets.
In these conditions, the perfect media buy is the one in which the entire budget is spent with one media outlet.
Unfortunately, that’s just not possible in the modern media landscape. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. More media outlets means more targeted media buys.
It’s not that small businesses advertisers shouldn’t use a media buying agency. But those that do hire out their media buying should choose an agency partner with automated and streamlined planning and buying processes over a provider that says their personal relationships with media sellers is their secret sauce to get better buys.
Competition in the marketplace creates biased relationships and non-transparency, an easy way out of exploring each and every advertising option and media channel that might be relevant to a client’s campaign.
And even then, how many relationships can be maintained? Relationships take time, even in business, and time is money.
In this cost/benefit analysis, information, technology, and efficiency always win.
Media buyers—whether buying advertising for their own business or on behalf of their clients—need to automate. These are the media buyers with time to analyze information, options, and proposals, rather than spending their time trying to collect it all.
posted by Avenue Right at 5:28 PM
Are you looking to grow your sales this year? Who isn’t, right? But promoting your business can be expensive, with results that may or may not correlate to the time, effort, and budget spent on a campaign.
Choosing the right messaging and the right vehicle(s) for the target audience is the key to realizing positive ROI from these efforts.
So which is more cost-effective for small businesses, advertising or marketing?
Well, both are equally effective, if done well. In fact, for longer sales cycles, advertising may be dependent on the marketing efforts that follow in order to close the sale.
Let’s look at the definition* of these terms to highlight differences in these two activities that are critical for both brining in new business, and to keep those current customers coming back time and again:
the action of calling something to the attention of the public especially by paid announcement
1) the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service, or 2) an aggregate of functions involved in moving goods from producer to consumer
*Source: Merriam Webster
Perhaps the most important thing to note here is that advertising is a component of marketing, a part of the whole experience for your prospects and customers.
Advertising raises awareness of your business, product, or service offering, filling the top of the sales funnel (read more about Local Advertising and the Consumer Decision Process). In addition, advertising can help create brand loyalty among existing customers.
Marketing follows through on that brand awareness to bring prospects further down the sales funnel, to the point of not only making their initial purchase decision, but keeping that customer coming back in the future. The notion of the customer lifecycle pulls that sales funnel upside down and sideways, until it looks more like this:
You’re marketing already. Every touch point with customers and prospects says something about your brand and reinforces their decision to purchase (or not to purchase, in some cases). The folks who leave your store and spread the word about your great products and the service they received are an extension of your marketing team, and undoubtedly its most valuable members.
Here are some (certainly not all) examples of activities that fall within the advertising and marketing:
Advertising (Paid Promotion)
Advertising keeps the top of the sales funnel full, and marketing brings those prospective customers closer to their purchase decision and, eventually, loyalty.
A balance of media, creative, timing, and repetition drives consumers from awareness to purchase. Learn how to optimize the advertising media mix based on messaging strategy, timing and delivery of the advertisements, the product, and the target audience. Download the complimentary white paper, 3 Tips for Aligning Local Advertising with the Consumer Decision-Making Process.
If you decide to outsource your advertising and marketing to an agency, here are 9 Things to Communicate with Your Advertising Creative Team.