“Data Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media. Today’s column is written by Sacha Xavier, Partner, Media & Innovation Director for Neo@Ogilvy.
The mobile media space is as exciting as it is daunting. As a digital media director, it seems there are more ad networks emerging in mobile than in any other medium. Not only are there ad networks, but there is inventory available to buy on the exchanges, premium publishers selling mobile, and of course garage band-type startups that buy mobile inventory, mark up, and try to resell to us.
My emotions are torn on the space because while I truly believe in mobile media, I worry about the dilution of reach and quality of partnerships when I hear from 20 mobile ad networks that they work with the same properties. There are about five apps that have "partnerships" with 20 ad networks, and whenever someone name-drops any of those apps as their core partner, I assume the opposite of what they are trying to convince me of. In my head I hear, "I have no strategic partnerships or agreements with anyone, but I do have a well known app that has agreed to let me send them a check if you buy from me."
What excites me is when a publisher says something like, "I know you have entertainment clients, but our inventory isn't the best for that. We have a lot in [Business, Pharma, B2B]." It's not about what the category is. It's about the fact that he/she is not a Yes Man. Every mobile publisher wants to be on the buy obviously, and they are convinced that whatever is out there that we want -- can be found by them with the help of an insertion order. Well that doesn't work for me at all, because I have fallen for the "Yes Ma'am" and ended up with under-delivery and unhappy clients.
This doesn't just go for inventory -- it's about pricing too. I recently had a publisher accept a special pricing model only to be able to deliver sub 4% on the contract. The campaign is over and the money committed was given back to the client. Had they just told us "No, only a CPM model will deliver," they would have gotten paid, we would have delivered to the client, and a nice case study could have resulted for all three parties, as it was that client's first mobile campaign. I don't know if that client is going to invest in mobile again… with anyone. With traditional "desktop" digital ads, I've always trusted that what my rep tells me they can do -- and what they have -- they can deliver on. But it's not the same in the mobile space. I don't want to be the first person buying something from a publisher unless they call it a Beta and set my expectations that way.
It's not just the small networks that are ruining it for everyone. I once asked a major Internet company to speak with a few teams at my agency about its mobile network-- and they sent an agency account lead who repeated over and over again, "I don't know very much about mobile, but I'm the key contact for your agency." The same publisher had another chance, but this time it was to present at the leadership meeting in front of all Media leads across all accounts, and in the 30 minutes given, a different agency lead spent 25 minutes showing us photos from his mobile phone of a cross-country family road trip he took. The ah-ha moment was that the sales rep's entire trip, from maps to lodging to photography, was made possible by his mobile phone. That would be an amazing sell if he was speaking to the leaders of the "Society for the Abolishment of Mobile Phones." Dude we get it, and your presentation is just making us want to use our mobile as a distraction toy.
So that said, here is my guide on how to win mobile agency friends and influence media buys -- based on the publishers who are doing it right and have impressed my team to date:
- Consider bringing someone from the technology side of your mobile company to a meeting with clients. These people are extremely powerful because they are not on commission and are truly passionate about the technology that differentiates their company.
- Tell us what you suck at. Everyone sucks at something. You don't have to dwell on it but it shows honesty and integrity.
- Tell us what you rock at. If you have a campaign that you are truly proud of, show us a case study and let your passion come out. Bonus points if it is in the category of a client at the agency.
- Validate claims. If you want to convince me that you are the "only," the "best," the "exclusive partner of" something, then be prepared to validate that in the same claim. Superlatives come across as untruths in sales pitches without facts.
- Include the following key points in your pitch: Apps vs mobile web capabilities, operating systems you work with, HTML 5, rich media, video, availability on exchange, global reach (meaning places that you have actually run ads), areas of specialization (e.g. Games, LBS, Music, etc)
- Send me one email personally showing interest in my company and my clients. (Do not send me an intro email of more than one paragraph automated from Salesforce. As soon as we see that Salesforce stamp, we know you sent it to 100 people and won't notice if we don't reply.)