How to Bring Emerging Channels to Your Media Plan

cpmEmerging media buying is not a direct translation of the conventional media buying process. Here’s how to monetize the future of these channels.

The current reality of advertising in emerging media channels is akin to early pioneers trailblazing a path to the West — in many cases, you make it up as you go. While it would be nice to have ad models and standardized analytics in place, the huge expanse of emerging platforms doesn’t allow for it right now. As is often the case in emerging mediums, audience dynamics and technology are unstable and difficult to monetize.

But there are benefits, too.

The demand to engage audiences in these new channels and acquire proprietary experience and research is often more important than the scale of the trial.

If price and scale are not the pivotal elements in the buying process, how do you validate your client’s adoption of emerging media platforms?

In many cases, the value is likely less about straight CPM campaigns and more about partnering with a technology provider to test media performance and forge an ad model for future initiatives in the medium. Where a media vendor executes against your direction, in emerging media it’s really about partnering with your colleagues to forge a symbiotic existence within these new channels. The collaboration will require patience and trial and error as iteration upon iteration of creative, pricing models and measurement is defined, rolled out and analyzed against key objectives.

In most cases, these endeavors are not meant to be profitable ventures but rather educational and proof-of-concept opportunities for advertiser and seller. Instead of pure-play CPM deals, many of the projects I’ve planned, bought and sold have a fixed cost that buys the advertiser a number of campaign components typically including research, media impressions and PR elements.

Here are a few common campaign elements and ways to assign price or value:

1) Media cost. Apply traditional pricing models to the emerging platform. You can determine an appropriate value of 1,000 impressions (CPM) based on executional experience in other relatively new channels like video, BT networks or advanced television. Or propose variations to the pricing model based on the platform’s unique abilities. If a widget lends itself better to driving a particular action, then negotiate to have the model center on cost-per-action.

2) Research cost and value. Many clients and agencies will find a custom research component provides the greatest value and return on investment for emerging media campaigns. Designing research with agency and publisher teams can help identify and test key hypotheses and provide valuable ad effectiveness and consumer insights. Both parties walk away with valuable data and feedback to improve their media and consumer offering. Research costs will vary widely depending on the platform you are experimenting with, but costs should be transparent between the publisher and agency participants.

3) PR value. You may find that press attention surrounding your emerging media trial is a key value to the client and agency. Both buyer and seller can work together on building press coverage and package PR outreach as part of the campaign. If you are seeing a tremendous amount of press coverage, you can work with a PR specialist to measure coverage, mentions and calculate advertising value equivalents.

4) Experimental value. Clients and agencies can find value in building innovation into their business plans, executing across new platforms and building a first-mover advantage among their competitors. The monetary value may appear in two ways:

* Organic growth — successful and unsuccessful trials will inform future business planning and provide a roadmap for agencies and clients to continue to extend their efforts into emerging platforms. This leads to new creative, media and analytics initiatives.
* New business — first movers have cut their teeth in these new environments and can see how future clients may or may not benefit from work in these platforms.

5) Package deal. The final and most common arrangement is a package deal that fixes a total cost for multiple components and is often easier for buyer and seller to secure budgets. A package program can remove the challenges of new, unscaled audiences and applications and supplement the campaign with strong research and PR elements. A fixed cost helps the advertiser get a foot in the door with an emerging channel and defrays some of the hard costs and resources provided by the tech or publisher partner.

A media and research program with Joost and a Bluecasting trial for Microsoft are two examples of emerging media programs we’ve produced here at the Lab.

The IPG Emerging Media Lab partnered with Joost to create a pilot advertising program across its platform during Joost’s 2007 beta. The package deal brought IPG agencies like Universal McCann, Initiative, MRM and Draft FCB and their clients to the new IP video platform that Joost launched in North America and Europe. The program allowed IPG clients and agencies to gain exposure to Joost’s tech-minded, cutting edge internet audience and provided deep attitudinal and ad effectiveness research specific to each brand involved in the trial. The negotiated price for the trial, approximately $50,000 per advertiser, per region, was largely based on research cost and not tied directly to an audience size metric, like CPM. Joost provided beta participants with campaign-end media reporting, ad effectiveness research results and recommended tactics to boost future performance within Joost. The beta program was truly a partnership in that Joost and the agency teams worked through challenges like optimizing the mix of ad units and implementing third-party tags in the video client.

Bluecasting: The IPG Emerging Media Lab and Microsoft U.S. Business and Marketing Office Online Media team identified Bluecasting — transmitting content via Bluetooth technology — as an ideal fit to connect and build relationships with IT professionals and developers at last years Microsoft Tech-Ed tradeshow. Bluecasting allowed Microsoft to augment its presence at the show by leveraging an emerging technology to immediately deliver valuable content to attendees including mobile coupons, ebooks and podcasts. This pilot program drove a 9 percent opt-in rate among all conference attendees and provided valuable data and experience to the team to use in evaluating the campaign against other initiatives and investments. Package cost for a similar program could range from $35-$50k for a one- to two-week deployment.

Emerging media buying is not a direct translation of the conventional media buying process and is more about shaping the future of how these channels will be standardized and monetized as they move into mainstream usage.
As the platforms continue to mature, the media professionals who pioneered advertising within these new platforms by budgeting for innovation and collaborating with partners will be rewarded with valuable insight and practical experience that can be applied to future endeavors.