Media Sellers Must Evolve To Gain Deeper Understanding Of Their Audiences

The Sell Sider” is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.

Today’s column is written by Scott Bender, global head of publisher strategy and business development at Prohaska Consulting.

Sales teams are finally arming themselves with programmatic knowledge, but it’s not enough.

The industry shift to audience-based buying requires a new approach for media sellers as they evolve into audience consultants that can better serve their clients’ KPIs.

This is a much finer, almost surgical approach to targeting compared to the way the media industry has historically done business. From advertising in the newspaper sports section to reach men or a cable adventure show that might have a high composition of likely SUV buyers, it’s always been about targeting content for an advertiser’s specific prospects.

The best sales people and organizations bring a solution-oriented approach to their offerings. However, as an industry, media sales can be transactional in nature. We negotiate against CPMs and rating points adhering to a standardized currency.

That currency is changing with addressable TV as part of the mix, and brands are pushing agencies to focus on business outcomes in addition to broad demographic targets. While just emerging in TV, this audience-based approach is a reality in programmatic digital display and video.

The ability to represent quality content isn’t going away. Context still matters, and even more so now as brands grapple with privacy and brand-safety challenges. However, it is no longer enough to be able to just rattle off content or sponsorship elements.

The new currencies are audience and engagement. Knowledge of programmatic terms, the vendors in a tech stack and how to transact in the private marketplace are now table-stakes. Sellers must evolve from just knowledge of their own inventory into a deeper understanding of their audience and how it can best engage with their client’s prospects:

For example, what are their first-party data, and how are they derived? What off-the-shelf audience segments are available, and at what scale?

What are their abilities to develop custom audience segments to serve a client’s specific needs?

And are their certain dynamics, such as specific areas of a site or time of day, that could impact the engagement?

Finally, what second-party relationships does the seller have at their disposal? What third-party data assets, and what is derived from those segments?

The buy-side perspective

An understanding of a client’s targets and KPIs is always the objective for a good seller. However, as agencies also shift to a more audience-based approach, sellers need to answer additional questions.

Are they existing customers or prospects? How are they measuring performance? What is their attribution model?

Beyond their digital strategy, what are their overall omnichannel goals? Which platforms and vendors are they using?

How are they deriving their first-party data? Which third-party vendors are being sourced and how?

What are their current programmatic strategies for both private and open marketplaces? What is the overall goal of the campaign?

As brands advance in their ability to target the consumer across channels, we are only at the beginning of audience-based buying. Sales organizations and their leaders need to act now to keep pace with the advances of the marketplace.

Follow Prohaska Consulting (@TeamProhaska) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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