Magazine article Marketing

Media: Let the Buyer Beware

Magazine article Marketing

Media: Let the Buyer Beware

Article excerpt

Media buying is a rip-off. The allegations keep on surfacing. Just how bad the problem is remains a moot point. But media auditors are agreed. It's big enough to take seriously.

Charges against the media buying world come down to four, often related, points.

* Dishonest reporting: Buyers, it is alleged, often lie with statistics. They make the discounts they achieve seem better than the reality. And they massage the figures on airtime or space actually bought so that they seem far better.

* Overspending: Buyer can achieve the aims of a campaign with a spend of say, [british pounds]1.8m, but knows the client has set aside a budget of[brithish pounds]2m, the buyer spends the full whack regardless and pocket the commission.

* Fraud:Sometimes buyers don't actually buy what they say they have. A TV spot, for example, is booked in the name of client A, and switched at the last minute to client B's campaign. But client A ends up paying for it. Sometimes, he may even pay for a spot that was never even broadcast.

More often, buyers fail to pass full discounts on to clients: when rates are soft, it's easy to boast to a client that space or time was bought at 25 % discount, when the real discount was 35%. The buyer simply pockets the difference.

* Bad buying: Who's to tell ira buyer fails to buy at the best discount the market can bear? Who's checking to make sure the right media was bought at the right time. If not how will advertising objectives be met?

Media buyers and auditors can all regale you (off the record, of course) with many examples of such practices. (Some simpler ones are shown in the box).

Clients, they say, make four mistakes. First, they succumb to the simple human failing of seeing creative work with ad agencies as sexy, and the nitty gritty of media buying as dull. So juniors are left to handle it. Or it is simply left to agency discretion.

Second, clients fail to write tight enough briefs. The biggest waste of money does not come from fraud or dishonesty, but from a failure to stipulate in detail who exactly is being targeted, and through which media. Vagueness gives good buyers a more difficult task, and gives bad buyers plenty of room for manoeuvre.

Third, clients create the wrong environment. In an often misguided quest for "value for money" they place excessive emphasis on achieving discounts. In response buyers may distort their actual buying to meet the expected discount or doctor their report. …

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