The List Broker’s Role in Media Planning

Why can’t we all play nicely together? During lunch with a friend who specializes in interactive placement, she and I began exploring ways to work together with one of her clients. “Who handles the e-mail or direct mail marketing for your client?” I asked. “No idea,” she answered. “I’m not usually invited to those meetings.”

That was my experience as well, but we decided to do a quick unofficial poll (we each e-mailed five to 10 clients and colleagues during the appetizer, and had results by coffee) and validate our initial impression. Not surprisingly, the majority of the clients polled or reviewed handled their media needs in a similar way—siloed. Each channel had its own experts who planned and purchased media, but interaction between the experts was rare.

Since I’m in the midst of some construction work at my home, I’ll apply a decorating metaphor. You can choose cabinets, flooring, lighting and paint separately, but it’s better to know how everything works together—before you make the nonrefundable purchase.

Now think about marketing today. And I mean right now, because by this time next year somebody will have come up with yet another way to communicate. A savvy marketer can use a combination of any of the following: general TV, cable TV, DRTV, newspaper/magazine print, direct mail, inserts, e-mail, viral marketing, co-registration, mobile marketing, banners, sponsorships, social networks … well, you get the picture. It is in the best interest of both marketers and suppliers to know what’s going on across the board.

Why is this so important to list professionals? As optimally responsive list sources become more difficult to mine, and mail becomes more expensive to deliver (postage and printing eventually will rise again), list professionals need to be able to leverage any and all sources that make sense. If direct mail planning is being done in isolation, you can hit the double whammy: either unrealized data or reach overload. An example of limited access: A marketer’s interactive team is working with a very responsive site that also happens to be collecting postal data, which the team doesn’t consider valuable. The data isn’t on the list rental market, but a savvy list planner can leverage what’s happening on the interactive side into a new list source—and additional revenue.

Reach overload actually can be more detrimental. Say Marketer X has a product for newborns. It tasks its direct/e-mail, print and interactive teams to plan the media—all separately. All three teams come back with targeted plans, and all three have incorporated a buy from the same major source, the fictional Momco. The combined plans could call for five pages of print ads in Momco’s publication over three months, a mail campaign to 50 million subscribers of the publication, an e-mail drop to another 50 million online subscribers and targeted banners placed on Momco’s site. And each team could have paid premium rates, because none would have been able to leverage the buy. This isn’t optimal for anybody—even Momco (at some point its customers are going to hit media overload and stop paying attention). There’s got to be a better way.

And there is. As a list professional, my first request to a client is to see its prior mail history and results. My second request is to see the media plans from any and all other channels it is marketing into, even if the results are poor or the marketer is not using that channel anymore. Sometimes you can turn “We tried a banner on that site and it didn’t work” into “Let’s try mailing to them instead” and achieve success for the marketer.

Publish date: October 28, 2009 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT