Jaimie Hefelfinger, Account Lead, Sales – I think both are valuable, but if we’re talking preference, I’d have to say custom media plans. While they often take longer to pitch and close, custom media plans tend to yield larger budgets, deeper understandings client goals, and thus, better performance overall. Additionally, when you’ve taken the time to build a custom campaign, the client feels that you have a better understanding of their business. They are more likely to give the campaign time to build performance and are more flexible with any necessary optimizations. When you create a custom media plan, you and the client are chefs in the kitchen together and they appreciate the influence they have in the process.

Amanda Wilson, Manager, Managed Services – As a planner/buyer, I often prefer the flexibility of a custom media plan. Although it’s slightly more work on the front end to align expectations and set up the client for success, I like having the opportunity to tailor the media plan to the client’s goals. I think packages are popular with sellers for proposals that need quick turnaround times, and those can work well for clients with smaller budgets or simplistic campaign goals. But for a campaign with a larger budget or more complex goals, such as conversions, I think a custom media plan is the best fit.

Mike Smith, National Director, Sales – Everyone wants to be a consultative seller, and find solutions for their client’s problems. Give me information, let me do research, and let me put together the best plan that fits your needs. However, that media planning method isn’t scalable across hundreds of clients, and often smaller clients are the ones that help keep the lights on when you’re going after the whales. The good news is that with media automation software (shameless plug), you can create packages for the small clients that still act like custom plans. The ability to optimize on the fly, and shift budgets in and out of tactics makes every package different as the campaign matures. It’s like going to lunch: If you go to a fancy restaurant, you’re going to pick and choose different things based on what you need that day. When you walk into Panera, on the other hand, you have the packaged half-soup half-sandwich option. You can change it up though! Some days it’s ham, and some days it’s turkey 😊

Will Bolles, Specialist, Managed Services – I definitely think there’s a time and place for packages vs. custom media plans. Sellers may shy away from packages because they seem too cookie cutter, but with custom data segments you can make even pre-packaged media plans stand out. While the tactics on the media plan itself may look the same from advertiser to advertiser, the data segments selected or created can really add some flair to the plan. For instance, I really like to use custom data segments when I’m working with the Entertainment vertical. This is a great vertical for custom offerings as so many advertisers can fall under the “entertainment” umbrella. For example, I ran a campaign for a brewery promoting an upcoming festival. We used the mobile location retargeting tactic along with the pre-built “breweries” segment on the plan, but we also created a custom segment to target people who had attended other brewery festivals. We were able to set the plan apart by using a custom segment that reached people who had attended festivals but may not be in the existing “brewery” audience.

Jeff White, Senior Director, Sales – What a good question… and one that I think often has many different responses.  From my POV, I think it depends a lot on what your customer’s KPIs are and how much budget they have allocated for digital. The size of the DMA the customer wants to target can also be a deciding factor between a package and a custom media plan.  I think the first thing to do, before even meeting with an advertiser, is to make sure you have a few items established. These can include:

  • Create a monthly minimum—One for packages and one for custom media plans.
  • Implement a service level agreement—This is a baseline of the services you will provide advertisers who purchase a package versus a custom media plan.
  • Educate your sellers—Ensure that your sellers know the difference between an advertiser for whom a package would be a good fit, and clients who will need something more custom (think budget, timing, size of advertiser, etc.)
  • Keep your packages simple—Build out packages that will match advertisers’ KPIs (Branding, Site Traffic, Consumer Action)
  • Set some rules up for custom media plans:
    • Never create a custom media plan before meeting with your advertisers.  You must go through a needs analysis with your advertiser as well as the media budget before making a plan.
    • If an advertiser doesn’t know what their budget is or doesn’t have a budget, that’s a good indication that they’re still in the discovery stage (determining if online advertising works) and probably are not ready for a custom media plan.
    • Creating custom media plans usually involves more than one person, which means you are putting more resources toward your cost of sales.  Always measure how many custom media plans you win and how many you lose.  Measuring close ratios will provide you a better understanding how sellers are going to market and provide insights on areas your sales organization needs to improve.