Why are you using digital channels?


I’m always intrigued to understand the strategic reasons why marketers turn to digital channels. In my role, it’s important to understand this to try and come up with ideas that meet the challenge … ideas that we can analyse post activity and come up with meaningful insights and results.

How often are we, in the publisher world, given true – meaningful – access to these strategic reasons. Rarely, if ever.

Why is this? Doesn’t it defeat the purpose of investing large sums of money into media channels. How can these investments yield the best results if the media channels have a limited, or worse – no idea – what you are trying to achieve?

I sort of liken this to someone walking into a restaurant – expecting a dish completely tailored to their tastes, at a low cost, delivered quickly – without actually telling the waiter what they want. And then not returning to the restaurant because the dish didn’t meet their objectives.

My feeling is publishers deserve two things – things they’re generally not really seeing.

1/ They deserve a thorough brief and a reasonable amount of time to respond. As an old colleague of mine said ‘Shit in. Shit out.’ The response can only be as good as the direction

2/ Sound rationale as to why they were successful/unsuccessful – by sound rationale I don’t mean ‘Client changed their mind’ I mean actual feedback that can translate to a better outcome for the client.

Ultimately, we are all accountable to the client. Our duty is to deliver them the absolute best ideas with the best execution. For this to happen shouldn’t all parts of the marketing chain have as much information as possible?

Can we work better together to achieve this? Absolutely.

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12 responses to “Why are you using digital channels?

  1. I couldn’t agree more, exact and more detailed feedback as to why campaigns didn’t go forward can only benefit everyoone invloced in the process. As for time frames to repsond – the more notice publilshers can receive the better again for all concerned, publishers want to succeed and bring forward concepts/campaigns that can truly deliver on the marketing objectives that brands and clients are measure upon and looking for.

  2. Shep I wholeheartedly agree – given you have just moved from agency back to publisher do you think you and your agency colleagues provided this info/feedback to the publishers?

  3. talkingdigital

    jules – if i am honest i’d say there were occasions were i wasn’t that forthcoming with all info around briefs i probably could have … feedback wise I always thought I was honest/upfront about reasoning if it was context or rate related etc … but definitely the briefing process could have been better at times.

  4. Shep, it seems like an opportune time to ask something we have been curious about for quite some time. In your experience, when an agency says “the budget was cut, sorry, we had to take you off the plan” – is that a lame excuse for “we couldn’t be bothered to explain why you were taken off the plan?”, “we just wanted to do a rate/sanity check”, or do budgets really get cut all the time? And, if so, shouldn’t this experience teach agencies to be a little more realistic with budget in the briefing process?

  5. I also agree however, but it really does come down to how much time you have available. You mentioned in a previous post how fragmented the online marketplace is… who has time to sit we 100+ publishers and run them through why or why they didn’t get on a plan?

  6. talkingdigital

    i can’t comment on others, but sometimes budgets did get cut … but i think a lot of the time it’s used as a crutch when someone doesn’t want to explain to everyone they’ve briefed the reasons why they missed out.

    this can be because they don’t have the time, or because they don’t want to be challenged, or because the rationale wasn’t that robust.

    one reason i’ve been hearing a lot is ‘the brief changed’. Problem is, no one told us it changed so how were we supposed to adapt our response to this? At the same time, we spent 10-20 hrs on a response for a brief that magically ‘changed’ after the fact. Not begrudging the opportunity to respond, but the excuses feel like a cop out a lot of the time.

    As Will points out – if you have 100 contact points … do you really want to have spend 10 mins with each rationalising why they did/didn’t get on a plan … that’s possibly 4/8/12 hours just explaining what has happened for someone who is probably already 10-15 hours a week overworked. Probably something for the agency heads to think about most like to think they have a transparant and respectful relationship with their suppliers.

  7. Very well articulated post, Ben.

    I think this post pretty much sums up how the current engagement model is broken.

    We respond to countless briefs and if unsuccessful, we’ll almost never hear a word back unless we chase the planner.

    I appreciate the issues at play, and how time poor planners are. But how about even an online status dashboard so we know at a high level what’s happening with the RFP? Or a periodic group email with status?

    As it stands, the heavy-sales / nag model of publisher / planner just keeps getting perpetuated and it’s hard to see how any party benefits from it.

  8. I mean do the publishers really want to hear the truth? E.g….’I had 1 hour to put the plan together, and put in what worked previously so sorry I didn’t think of you’…I always try and be as fair as possible…however, every single site comes to me with the ‘perfect’ opportunity for my client, that needs to be signed off within the next week or I miss out (exaggerating I know) but that’s what it feels like…. in terms of briefing I do agree that publishers need more visibility …more communication, better process etc etc etc

  9. Different industry, but for every RFP my company gets involved in, we ask for a win/loss review at the end of the process. The client doesn’t always agree to them, but at least it gives us a chance to bring in a 3rd party and get some real feedback around where we were strong or lacking in our response. Plus it’s hard to make excuses such as “the brief changed” plausible over an hour’s conversation.

  10. talkingdigital

    something like that in media would be handy AJ … and not for a small tactical brief … but if you ask a publisher to come back with 12 months of diverse, integrated activity and all you can say when they miss out is ‘the brief changed’ then it’s a real cop out. it’s not unrealistic to expect some sort of idea/rationale behind the decision.

    problem is, often there probably isn’t that rationale.

  11. We met with an agency in NZ recently who had a global mandate to cut 30% of the online publishers they use – in NZ alone the total # they were using was 300. Big call – tough for the smaller sites. But from my agency days its a must as they can develop a far better relationship with those sites that are lucky enough to remain in the 70%.

  12. talkingdigital

    when i was agency side i really tried to limit my dealings to a selected amount of suppliers … made sense on paper but was difficult to pull of practically as there always seemed to be sites you might miss. only way to do it for me was to move to a ‘preferred supplier’ model where you’d get sign off a service level agreement which defined the relationship and expectations. seemed to be working when i left but unsure how it’s gone in the 5 months since.

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