In media we’re all hardwired to value the importance of using publications who can provide large audience scale; sites who can take large chunks of media budget primarily based on meeting an audience goal.
These few sites with the largest reach had to do little to maintain their lofty position; as economists will always tell you, wealth is easier to accumulate once you have a large base, and that’s certainly the case with large online publications.
The One Stop Shop Approach
Back in 1901 Henry Ford created a mass production line for the Ford Motor Company, with a factory priding itself on being self sustainable, all responsibilities were kept in house as opposed to outsourcing areas of weakness. I can see a lot of similarities in how media buying has been carried out.
We’ve become so used to a siloed approach to judging a publisher’s merits to being on a media plan, whereby each site is expected to deliver both content and reach under one roof. Their output and delivery were all part of the service, our job as media buyers were to assess their performance in full, comparing them to others who had the same task.
Often the self sustainable publisher model fails to deliver on integration, consistently missing the brief on brand integration due to limiting nonnegotiable guidelines that come from large organisations and suffocate creative flexibility. Unfortunately in most cases the greater the size of a publication more often than not actually hinders the potential to deliver on a great advertising product. This leaves media planners with the ultimate choice to make – Quality execution or quantity of audience reached?
The Reach Revolution
When we take a step back to see the changes in media over the last ten years, it’s pretty incredible to think platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and most notably Google, hold so much reach but create absolutely no original content whatsoever. This really flies in the face of content publishers who see such content aggregators as parasites on their industry; leveraging their created content to monetise for themselves. I would argue that content aggregators are creating a level playing field for media creators, where quality of editorial shines through, hence the growth of long tail media consumption within Australia.
As advertisers we’re moving into a great new realm whereby we’re not limited to using large reaching publications, reach is now nothing but a commodity that we can access via content aggregators. We can now break out responsibilities and allocate them each to specialists. We can build really great content with small nimble publications, and then use the likes of Facebook to efficiently reach our audience, using the editorial as our advertising message.
The local publishers we have here in Australia such as Mamamia and Pedestrian.TV may not have the reach of large media empires but they can deliver great integration for brands as well as local editorial authenticity.
The challenge for media buyers
It’s far better to leverage everyone for their strengths than having to rely on a one stop shop approach to receive both content (very limited integration) and reach (Now reduced to a commodity). The real challenge comes from embracing this opportunity within the media landscape and being able to manage allocated responsibilities for the delivery of campaign goals.
Getting the balance right between quality content delivery and efficient audience buying through multiple vendors will require media planner/buyers to increase their skill set. Project management skills, a collaborative approach to media partners as well as leadership skills will be increasingly be required to deliver great campaigns with complementary media partnerships.