Direct Media vs. Agency Placement

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Should you buy your own media or work with an agency on placement?

If you run a business you may be considering placing an ad to attract new customers. The question then arises: should I place a media but directly through a potential media partner (TV station, Website, Radio Station, Print Publication) or contact an advertising agency? As tempting as it is to “cut out the middleman” (in the parlance of classic American ad lingo) the latter option is any business owner’s best bet. Why is this?

It all comes down to personal relationships and the loyalty that results from them. Any business owner considering placing an ad directly ought to know the following:

1.) Direct media buys are placed through Account Executives.
2.) Because Account Executives work for a media partner, their first loyalty is to their employer.
3.) When buying direct, any discounts you receive will be based off your media buy ONLY.
4.) When buying your advertising direct, you’ll be dealing with a sales representative from each media partner you deal with. Because these positions have higher than average turnover rates, it’s very difficult to develop business relationships or establish continuity for your campaign.

Jason Wright, CEO, and founder of Tucson’s Amped Marketing, illustrates this phenomenon with a humorous anecdote: “Years ago, while purchasing media direct for my employer, I dealt with an account executive, who worked for broadcast station #1. He’d always bash broadcast station #2 in a crass attempt to get more advertising dollars out of me. A few years later, he left station #1 because he was offered more money by station #2. Low & behold, shortly after the switch, he was suddenly singing the laurels of station #2 and reminiscing about how horrible station #1 really was!”

The main three reasons to choose an ad agency over direct placement is:

Advertising agencies work for the client and owe their loyalty to that client, not the media outlet. An ad agency will develop a close relationship with each client by listening to the goals they envision for their business. The key to creating a successful marketing campaign starts with understanding the client first. A one-size fits all approach is unlikely to be effective.
2.) STRONGER RELATIONSHIPS: When buying through an advertising agency, you only have to deal with one or two people. Getting to know each client and ensuring that advertising is purchased in a fashion that you agree with. Most ad agencies will be able to produce the ad themselves, whatever the medium. “We monitor the performance of ads we produce and place for our clients. Placing an ad directly with a media outlet won’t allow you to keep tabs on its effectiveness” continues Wright.
3.) BETTER DISCOUNTS: This comes down to simple economics. Agencies place media buys for multiple companies and as a result, their discounts are based on the collective dollars they spend.

Advertising agencies have specialized skills, resources, and experience dealing with a wide range of clients across different mediums. Aside from the broader range of expertise, yet due to the ever-evolving world of advertising, they are not committed to any particular format. It is more likely they’ll be able to tailor your ad/ad campaign to your target audience, but also recommend the most effective mediums to convey your product/service’s message.