A former director of Unilever’s media in South Africa, and an expert negotiator, Debbi Dale has written a book designed to upgrade the skills of those working in the media and marketing sector. Advertising Budgets : A Marketing & Media Sales Negotiation is described as a “must read for anyone involved in media negotiations. This book will substantially upgrade your skills by providing the right framework, the tools and techniques, and the mindset needed to create real value in media negotiations. Thank you Debbi for continuing to elevate standards within the media industry and improving the impact of media negotiations on the business.” Luis Di-Como (SVP, Global Media, Unilever)
Di-Como isn’t the only industry expert to recommend Dale’s book as an essential guide to operating in this challenging sector.
“In this book, Debbi Dale has used her extensive knowledge of media owners, media agencies and clients to give a practical view on the often tricky environment of media negotiations. She gives practical advice, and has input from some of the industry’s biggest players. Whether you are a junior, a senior, or experienced negotiator, you will find benefit from reading this book. I highly recommend it.” says Chris Botha, group managing director of The MediaShop.
Starcom MediaVest’s Gordon Patterson says the book is a “a well-structured step by step approach, rich with experience and no nonsense advice for all involved in media negotiations. If you’re a client then it contextualizes the challenges for media agency and media owners. If you’re in a media agency then it provides valuable insights into the workings and needs of a client. And if you’re a media owner then it’s a virtual crib sheet to navigate through negotiations while still staying in business!”
The Media Online caught up with Dale to find out more.
Why did you decide to write this book?
To give the global marketing, advertising and media community what I was not able to find in any textbook; industry specific media negotiation knowledge, insights, “call to actions” and case study exercises, written by someone who has been there and done it, from all stakeholder positions.
I am hopeful that after reading the book, the industry will think differently about media negotiations, placing brands and consumers at the focal point of the conversation, where media is recognised and respected as the channel through which brands communicate 24/7 with consumers in a world that is always “on”.
Are you only selling online via Amazon?
No, my eBook is also available at Smashwords who distribute to Apple iBookstores, Barnes & Noble, Sony and Kobo. I am also considering the ‘print on demand’ option.
What is your approach to media negotiations, and how did you arrive at your methodology?
Following three decades of experience in representing each party in “media negotiations,” I have come to believe that the only sustainable approach is for all parties to focus on HOW a specific communication channel will drive a measurable marketing communication objective for a marketer/brand before agreeing price – i.e. driving brand growth first and then agreeing a firm, yet fair price to deliver this based on performance.
Do you think the relationship between media owners and media agencies lacks balance in SA? And around the world?
I wouldn’t define it as an imbalance, rather that both parties are unsurprisingly feeling the pain of the marketer procurement led agenda, where media agencies have needed to pass this pressure onto media owners in the form of floor of market discounts and agency rebates (to stay afloat) and media owners in S.A. have driven up media inflation in a bid to protect further margin erosion. This has led to little evidence of true communication partnering and media owners are increasingly by-passing media agencies in an effort to drive sales targets in a tough recessionary market.
What is your advice to young people starting out in the agency industry and why should they read your book?
My best advice is to develop a deep understanding of your role in partnering with marketers to grow their brands – It’s not just about the audience, the reach, the eyeballs, the time spent, and other metrics, it’s about knowing the value and the return in terms of building brands with every single media investment. By reading my book new entrants will gain an insight into not only the role they need to play; but in how the entire media supply chain – marketers, media agencies and media owners can partner together to do this optimally.
What steps should agencies be taking to, as you say, ‘shift the current mindset from a client/supplier trading approach to a true brand communication partnering one’ and why is that important?
If agencies want to stay relevant and be viewed as true brand communication partners by marketers, they need to challenge the procurement led agenda in driving their fee remuneration, which is resulting in them being measured and rewarded primarily on the cost savings they deliver, rather than their media strategy, planning and buying capability – their key role as drivers of brand growth. It is important that the best talent within the media supply chain – marketers, media agencies and media owners come together on the procurement issue soonest if we want to ensure a sustainable business model for all parties going forward,
You say it is important for marketers and their media agencies to “create value other than cost savings to measure the success of brand communication investment”. What do you suggest agencies do to develop such value?
Firstly push back at marketers to review the current way agencies are measured and rewarded on “brand communication investment/media negotiations.” Co-develop opportunities with media owners beyond the transactional relationship of buying advertising space. Gain increased skills in analytics and the ability to develop consumer and media insights. Develop a better understanding of what they need from media owners (other than cost and audience numbers), that will change consumer behaviour and deliver brand growth.
At the same time, you encourage media owners to ‘create and package real value that will WOW Marketers and excite Consumers’. Can you giver some practical examples?
Certainly, here are a few :
a) Work together with a marketer to grow a specific target market audience, developing a proprietary programme aimed at this audience, where the marketer provides the content, in return for no media charge, until such time as agreed target audience levels have been achieved
b) Invite marketers to form joint ventures with you on new innovations that involve high capital expenditure. Reduce media costs in year one and two in return for their investment in product development.
c) Provide marketers with opportunities to get closer to your media audiences/their consumers, where relevant and appropriate. Key criteria for involvement is that they add value to consumers and give them (consumers) an opportunity to start the conversation, where brands can talk back, 24/7, not just within campaigns. Not a “show and tell” from advertisers/their brands.
d) Collaborate with marketers on what research would be valuable to both parties and progress that.
e) Encourage marketer/media content provider engagement where marketing can connect with editors, dj’s, film producers, television programming heads etc. on what content drives their audiences.
f) Set up marketer/media owner days (bi-annually) where you continue the conversation, stay in touch with their changing needs and issues, and work together on developing brand communication solutions that grow brands and excite consumers.