Depending on your perspective, the expanding roster of companies using the Internet to sell various forms of media is either blood-pumping exciting or brain-scrambling confusing. For me, there’s never been a better time to be in radio. But then, I’m not the one who has to sort through the various companies and methods and metrics and so many variables I can’t see my computer screen anymore — just to determine the best way to place a media buy.
Advertisers have a lot of options. There’s the medium — radio, TV, banner ads, podcasts, Internet radio, to name just a few. And then there are the online media exchanges that exist precisely to make the process easier: Bid4Spots, SWMX, Spot Runner and more. Choice is good, right? Only if the process of buying media actually does become easier. And that can only happen if advertisers know what to look for and how to find it.
Since I can’t realistically offer a comprehensive view of all media and all online media-buying tools in the space this column affords, I’ll take one medium — traditional radio — and examine the variables involved. My goal is simply to help advertisers figure out how to determine which variables matter to them — and how to identify the online tools that excel in those areas. Although the examples are radio-specific, the principles can be applied across other media, as well.
For this purpose, we’ll consider these online buying tools for radio:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Google — Still developing its Google Audio for last-minute (remnant) airtime
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Softwave Media Exchange (SWMX) — Last-minute and negotiated buys
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Bid4Spots — Terrestrial and Internet radio, last-minute only (full disclosure: I am the founder and CEO of Bid4Spots)
My team and I talk to advertisers and agencies every day, and based on those conversations we’ve tried to distill the information-gathering process down to some basic questions that buyers must ask themselves. The bottom line: no single online tool will get you everything you need. But identifying and prioritizing those needs will help you find the solution that’s closest.
1) Which media?
The question seems obvious, but the answer often is not. Television provides broad reach and excellent branding opportunities, but can be expensive. Terrestrial radio offers superb targeting capabilities and is more affordable, but negotiating with various stations can get complex. Most advertisers come up with a media mix based on their budgets and priorities. We’ll assume, for now, that radio is in your mix.