Advertising is as much art as it is science. More than ever it is a cross section of Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and Wall Street. It requires learning many disciplines and combining often previously unrelated skills. Interestingly, media buying is learned entirely on the job. Buyers apprentice as assistants and learn the craft by doing. Very little of what we do is taught in school. Indeed, much of the technical aspects of the business (ad serving, invoice reconciliation, trafficking, etc.) is not passed down from supervisor to assistant, but rather passed around from assistant to assistant. Throughout my career, I have worked with all types of salespeople and for some truly great media buyers, yet I still have made more than my fair share of mistakes. Having already covered the most common blunders sellers make, it's time to breakdown the missteps of media buyers. Hopefully this will help others avoid my gaffes.
Negotiating is as important as ever, but it is often obscured by auction based areas of advertising like real time bidding or paid search. Buyers don't negotiate prices on ad networks or DSPs. Instead, they bid on inventory and algorithmically assign cost. In this way, negotiating is possibly becoming a tertiary job function for buyers. Still, it remains core to our business and woefully under taught. Buyers should never forget that everything on a media proposal is negotiable. While second tier inventory may be relegated to networks (some not all), premium space will always be sold through human interaction. This means talking, not bidding, delivers the best mix at the best price. For example, buying homepage takeovers means negotiating a commodity, something that websites always want to sell at a premium. Prices change depending on the date (think Cyber Monday) or availability (think last minute deal) and demand. Price is a variable not a constant in media buying equations. Experienced buyers know that first submissions are just the jumping-off point for discussions, not the final price. Given that some junior buyers spend most of their time working on plans that do not involve negotiations, it makes sense that they do not instinctively negotiate pricing. Lesson: Everything on a media buy is negotiable.