Traits of the Best Media Publisher Representatives

Posted by Jeff Tan On April 14, 2015

One of the things I love about the media-agency side is the frequent interaction with publishers. From chats at industry events, to formalized presentations and client brief responses, I’ve met with hundreds of media partners over the years. Below is a summary of the key traits of the best media publisher representatives.

The best publishers can quickly and clearly articulate what business they are in. They don’t overuse buzzwords. They refrain from dazzling their audience with tech speak. When faced with multiple options, media buyers (and most human beings) try and categorize choices into preconceived buckets. These buckets in digital media include ad networks, mobile networks, mobile programmatic, premium online video, programmatic display and video, branded content and 3rd party data providers. If it’s not immediately clear what the business is, I’ll ask. A response recently was ‘we are a disruptive probabilistic media platform integrating 3rd party data sources to allow up to 9 decimals of location based user targeting’. OK, so you’re a mobile location network.

The best publishers can clearly and simply articulate their company’s value proposition. They know what it is about their offering that is unique. They know who their competitors are. They know what the one thing is they can do better than everybody else. When asked who their competition is, I’m often answered with “we don’t have any real competition, our platform is unique and allows….”. Admitting and understanding who you’re competing with is crucial in clearly articulating your unique selling point.

The best publishers understand client businesses and marketing challenges. They research the client. They are prepared to discuss issues relevant to the client’s sector. They have an understanding of previous campaigns. I know it’s difficult to have this level of knowledge initially. However the best publishers can apply previous client experience, sector knowledge and business understanding immediately.

The best publishers are vertical experts in their client’s business. They understand the short turn around times within retail. They appreciate the data-led ROI focus in CPG. They are knowledgeable about the purchase cycle and key factors considered when purchasing a car. They understand the lead times and consumer journey within travel planning.

The best publishers also understand agency businesses and marketing challenges. They know who they are talking to. They know how to develop rapport in a non-creepy way. They know how the agency operates and how decisions are made. And if not, they know the right questions to ask.

The best publishers personalize their communication. They can expertly mirror their communication style to suit the agency and client culture. They move far beyond the basics such as making sure client and agency logos are on documents. They can tailor their communication to make sure they are pushing the right buttons. I recently provided 5 media partners with an identical brief that articulated the 7 criteria we were seeking in a media partnership. The most impressive response laid their presentation out based on the 7 criteria and made sure each point was clearly addressed.

The best publishers ensure their proposals are client-solution based. They don’t retro-fit solutions from Client X to Client Y. Instead, they provide customized solutions based on the client’s individual needs.

I acknowledge that many publishers do not always have the opportunity to formally respond to a media brief RFP and may rely on a very small opportunity to articulate their proposition. Getting to the ideal level of client and agency understanding in this case is unfeasible. However, the above traits can still be applied in a 15 minute casual conversation. In a zero-sum game, it’s these differences that can have the biggest long term impact.

Jeff Tan