Can You Really Name Your Own Price in ’09?

Being part of a media services agency that stays on top of all the latest news and headlines, I’ve come across numerous articles lately stating that as a country we are heading towards a “media buyers’ market” in ’09. With five years under my belt in the advertising world I can honestly say that I have never experienced a buyers’ market. I’ve always been the one haggling for value added and working to get every dollar shaved off my rate.

This new concept of a strong buyers’ market brings up many questions for our agency:  What does this mean for us as media planners and buyers? How should we go forth with our planning and buying for 2009? Do we just name the price we want to pay? Is it going to be that easy or will there be fights? What is our justification for lowering rates — because we hear the market is projected to be down?

These questions led to a large internal meeting at Media Works. As an agency, we have numerous clients advertising in Baltimore that together have a huge share of local ad spending. We always want the best value for our clients, so we decided to get together and negotiate based on volume. To have clients who are increasing budgets or even remaining flat is a plus in this type of market and can be used as leverage. In order to maximize cost savings it will be important to negotiate media buys with a factual understanding of local supply and demand conditions, how the media market works, and a win-win negotiating plan.

Since every account is different in regards to target audience and budgets we decided we couldn’t negotiate 2009 rates using traditional CPPs/CPMs. All the local buyers pulled together rate history from the past three years and as a group we discussed the submitted rates based on history and how we project the programs to perform in ’09. This was a timely process but necessary to make sure we were accurate in our rate assessment. The next step is to set up meetings with our local stations reps and management to present our collective agency rates.

Bottom line – we do not have to have a “crystal ball” (as one of my reps put it) to predict the shape of the media buying market next year. As an agency, Media Works has great relationships with our reps and there is always a give and take from both ends. We are not trying to take advantage of anyone or any station in ’09 just because we know times are tough; however we must get the best value possible for our clients.  Because we know that this business is constantly revolving we’re sure that the time will come when the stations have limited inventory again and media buyers will revert back to fighting for every dollar off!

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