Monday, July 7, 2008

OnlineSpin: An Open Letter To Digital Media Buyers

Last week Kalia Colbin's Search Insider, "Speculating In (Online) Real Estate," received some interesting responses.

Kelly Lieberman wrote, "Until Madison Avenue gets it, we can't expect anyone else to understand that the most valuable real estate in the world is the domain name.

Your domain portfolio can make or break your online presence.

If you sell interactive banner ads or you are a video ad provider, wouldn't it make sense to own the domain for the search?

It seems to me that American Express or Discover Card might see the value in purchasing some inexpensive longtail domains that also double as great call to action domains.

The key is choosing terminology that is clearly used by consumers -- and better yet, to own the domains before their competition decides to get smart!

Consider an ad campaign using domains like:

Or would you rather pay Adsense for the next 100 years for the top 1-3 positions?"

Monday, July 7, 2008
An Open Letter To Digital Media Buyers
By Seana Mulcahy

This may not be the best week to ask for reader responses, since many in the U.S. are taking an extended holiday weekend. However, something's been on my mind. Maybe those who are out will read this in a couple of days and post.

My intention is to take a lot of recent conversations that have come up and throw them out to those of you responsible for the buying of digital media. It doesn't matter if you are an assistant planner/buyer, the head of a global media group or a brand marketer. I'm hoping to hear from you. So here goes:


To those of you who plan and/or buy media in the digital space, let me thank you in advance for your time. As many of you know, I spent years deeply entrenched in digital media while at ad agencies.

My role has changed and morphed quite a bit after leaving the agency world. While running a small business allows you to roll up your sleeves more often than the average media executive, it has some limitations. One of the best things I liked about the agency was bouncing ideas off peers and colleagues around the good ole coffee pot that was our mainstay. For the past few years I've lived the life of concalls, emails, BlackBerrys, SMS...mainly digital communication, with limited face-to-face time.

Because of this, I'm hoping you'll shed some light on a bit more of your day-to-day with me. No doubt you are all still hoop jumping from meeting to meeting, lucky enough to have a second to catch up on email -- let alone read this.

I represent several publishers. Some have been around a long time, while others are start-ups. Regardless of what business they are in, they share common goals: to have a healthy amount of traffic in order to sell ads (sponsorships, partner agreements, whatever). So let me give you a hypothetical scenario, if I may. The site is, say, a niche site for women. By no means will the site compete with a large portal. However, it needs to be co-aligned with analogous brands.

So they hire my firm to build an ad revenue model. The first thing I do is take a peek under the hood. Can I obtain raw log files and/or Web stats, which are industry standard? Sometimes yes, and sometimes no. What I tend to find is that the traffic is low. It's no surprise, because typically these folks haven't backed the effort of traffic building initiatives, ad sales, etc. Yet. After all, that's why we are here. They ask a valid question, "We heard you need at least a million visits to your site per month to be credible. Is that true?" What do you think? Now remember, they are niche.

Certainly I know the answer to a lot of my questions here will be dependent on your exact situation. However, some you may be able to answer. Is there a minimum traffic level you look for in order to even consider a buy on a site? Do you look at sheer numbers or dig deeper into uniques, time spent, click streaming, etc?

Would you buy media on a new site if you were able to lock up exclusive inventory with a large share of voice and have first right of refusal? If so, how do you evaluate the site? Sure there are a variety of factors, which may include: price, acceptance of creative units and technology, measurement metrics, comp and coverage numbers of the site, indices against demographic and psychographics of your target, geo targeting, etc? Fill in the blanks.

Do you have a "test" budget? We used to reserve monies for new sites and or opportunities. Anything under about $50K net could be considered a "test." It may have been a new site as illustrated in the scenario above. Perhaps it was a new technology. Maybe it was a form of new media that lacked standards so we couldn't track it the same way as other media. Either way, we used it to test. We signed agreements so we could back out in 30 days or less. It was a risk --but we wouldn't blow a wad of the client's cash and have our butts on the line if the results were less than favorable.

I could go on and on about what media buyers look for, but I need your help. I'll be sure to do a follow-up piece based on your feedback here, as well as for a survey I'd like to do. Email me at if you'd like to take part in the survey, and if you'd like me to share the data.

Hope to hear from you soon.


Online Spin for Monday, July 7, 2008:

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