Free Spots = No Audience


Example of an American grocery store aisle.

Image via Wikipedia

Beware of the Free Spot. You know the ones, the ones on radio, TV, Classified Sections, Internet Directories etc… which you purchase x and get X+ Y and you are supposed to be thankful for them.

I had the privileged of sitting with an account today and listen to a media rep sell her on the value she was getting from his company, because every time she ran with them she got twice as many spots as she paid for. Man he made it sound fantastic.  I listen quietly and went along with his program until he was finished and we asked him to follow-up with us later. When the account asked me what I thought, I had to intervene and bring us back to reality.

The reason company X is giving away twice as many spots as what we paid for is can boiled down to a couple of points:

1) The original spots are over priced.

2) The Free Spots have no Audience listening of Value

3) The Audience that we are being sold is of little value in the marketplace because the best audience would never be given away FREE. The Big boys would have taken all they wanted of that Audience.

When Buying media it is important that you analysis the deal you are being pitched, for its merit in the market place, for the audience you are reaching and for value of the product compared to the norm.

Let me explain a little deeper.

1) Merit of the media in the market place.  If you are a small or medium-sized business and you are being pitched a product for marketing that seems really under priced or a really great value, stop and think a minute about why it is available. Are the biggest advertisers in the marketplace buying this package?  What do they know that you don’t?  Now that does not mean don’t buy it, this might be a great fit for you in your audience mix and for the price you are more likely to be able to afford enough to make a difference, just don’t allow your media rep to push into over believing in the media.

2)Free Spots traditionally don’t run during Drive Times, Prime Times, Featured Sections or Front Page Headlines. Free spots run when the inventory is not sold, in most cases when the audience is so thin that the Value even at FREE is questionable. Again don’t refuse them, even ask how many can be run in prime times or placement, but don’t let the FREE spots be sold to you as a bill of debt to the media company, they gave them to you because they needed to fill the void.

3)Audience is King. If your Free spots run when your target Audience is not their or is never there what value have you gained? Any guess as to why the largest grocery stores don’t buy late night Radio or TV spots? Could it be that the minimal audience that they might reach are not target grocery consumers?  If you are a small business, I understand you may not afford prime time or page three placement, however if the audience you buy must be the right one or you have wasted more money than the big guys who may have a budget that allows mistakes.

I am not a media basher. I believe all media works. If you target the right Audience at the right time, with the right message you will get results in every media out there, You just need to analysis the media buy up against the audience received and calculate its value towards your ultimate business goals.

Often this is why Media agency‘s and Media planners are so important to have on retainer, so that they can help you analysis the media plan and product mix and give you feedback on direction.

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