Ditching the RFP

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

In yesterday’s Digiday, Brian Morrissey wrote about “Ditching the RFP.” Agencies and publishers both universally dislike the RFP process. Finally, alternatives are actively being developed:

“A pair of efforts are underway to change the dreaded RFP process. NextMark  wants to turn it on its head, taking a page out of the Lending Tree model. The idea behind its “request for consideration” is rather than sending out RFPs to dozens of publishers, media planners would simply post the specifics of what the campaign (budget, campaign dates, target audience) to a site that would match it to likely publisher candidates. Another effort by video ad exchange wants to adapt the auction models that are popular in real-time bidding for reserved buys. And Google, ever the critic of waste in ad buying, is rolling out a “direct deals interface” in April that it promises will eliminate the need for a flurry of emails and phone calls between buyers and sellers.”

[See the full story on Digiday]

The RFC has only been available for 11 days, but already 22 agencies are actively testing the RFC as an alternative / complement to the RFP process.

FYI Free trials of NextMark’s implementation of the “Request for Consideration” or “RFC” are available. Choose from the  two applications that support the RFC:
1) Media Magnet for media planners/buyers at digital agencies
2) Compass for ad salespeople at digital publishers


RFP event in Boston draws a crowd

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Riding the momentum from their successful event in NYC, the Online Marketing Network brought their Inner Circle Series to Boston. More than 125 media buyers and sellers convened at the Marriott Copley last night to “Learn How to Earn RFP’s and Win Media Business.”

The agenda was similar to the one in NYC, but the discussion was fresh because of the new set of experts.

Panel 1 – Getting on the RFP List

The first panel’s topic was “Getting on the RFP List.” It was moderated by Susan Beard, National Account Manager at The Washington Post Digital. The panelists were:

Here are some of my notes from the session:

  • Melissa – “Most of my team would say they don’t have enough time at their desk to get their work done.”
  • Paula – “I’m at my desk until 9:30 a.m. then gone to 5:00 or 5:30 p.m. when I catch up and get more work done.”
  • Melissa – “I like it when a vendor sends me an Outlook invite after we’ve set up a meeting because it gets it right into my calendar and I won’t accidentally double-book it.”
  • Melissa – “Don’t waste time in a meeting going through roles and clients. Get that up front because it’s a waste of time away from your offer”
  • Paula – “We try to keep our vendor meetings to 30 minutes. Plan for 20.”
  • Paula – “Visuals are good. Powerpoint is good as long as it is well put-together.”
  • Paula – “I have no hope of responding to every email because otherwise I’d be working 50 hours per day.”
  • Melissa – “Expect a 30 minute meeting.  However, you can get a full hour if you bring us lunch.”
  • Melissa – “We try to meet with everyone.  However, expect at least a six week lead time when setting up a meeting because we are so backed up.”

After the panel, I asked Melissa about her perspective on meeting with vendors. She told me that she follows the advice that Sarah Fay gave her when she was working for her at Carat. Sarah advised that you never know where people will end up and you should always treat them with respect.  Plus, you have to meet new people to get new ideas. That’s great advice.  Should we say that Melissa follow the “Fay Doctrine” in dealing with vendors?

I can certainly attest to Melissa’s willingness to meet. She met with me back when our Media Magnet and the Digital Media Planning Systems were just a concept and we wanted to validate our assumptions. She and her team met with us and provided some great feedback that helped us to design better products.  And, because we bought lunch, we got the full hour!

Panel 2 – Getting on the Media Plan

The second panel, moderated by Anthony DeMaio, Director East Coast Advertising at The Washington Post Digital, was on the subject of “Getting on the Media Plan.” The Panelists were:

Some of my notes from this session:

  • Victor – “The difference maker in the RFP is the people that come in, whether or not I trust them, whether they have good ideas, and they are different. What wins is the people and the ideas.”
  • Andrew – “The number of RFPs depends on many factors.  Typically 5-10 per campaign.”
  • Victor – “I don’t want my agency wasting time summarizing proposals. Instead, I ask them to rip the most important page out the proposal and I read that.”
  • Victor – “I have some advice to vendors: no one is the best. No one is world class. No one is one of a kind. No ones is state of the art. So, don’t tell me that because it is a turn off.”
  • Andrew – “What I like about the RFC is it organizes information and has the potential for innovative and brilliant ideas.”
  • Kaileen – “We like to host a media day where we bring in all the vendors and give them each some time.”
  • Andrew – “It sticks with me when the vendor brings in useful market research.”
  • Kaileen – “Mobile remarketing is an example of something that is innovative.”
  • Victor – “Everything has to be multi-channel. No channel is a silo anymore.”
  • Kaileen – “If you follow up, you need to add value every time you do. For example, updated information or a better price.”
  • Victor – “Effectiveness is what wins. I’m okay with trying something new and failing.”


Introducing the RFC (an alternative to the RFP)

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012


The Request for Proposal or RFP has been described by digital media veterans as the “bane of their existence.” That’s because the RFP process is fundamentally broken in the dynamic context of digital media.

Introducing a new alternative to the RFP: the “Request for Consideration” or “RFC.”

While others have failed to solve the RFP problem by automating it, the RFC takes an entirely new approach by literally turning the RFP inside out. As one media director observed, “it’s like LendingTree for media planners.” Others have called the RFC “a game changer” that could “eliminate the need for the RFP.”

You can learn more about the RFC, how it differs from the RFP, and how it works by attending a free 25-minute webinar on Tuesday, February 21st.

>>> Sessions customized for digital media planners:

>>> Sessions customized for digital ad salespeople:

If you can’t make one of these sessions, but want to learn about the RFC, please let us know and we’ll arrange a webinar for you.

Data Card Trends for 2012

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

A recent Multichannel Merchant article presents an outlook for digital data to take center stage. While Washington continues to go back to the drawing board to draft new privacy legislation, experienced direct marketers continue to apply online and offline data for responsible direct marketing. For traditional list and data marketing professionals, this creates a need for a new kind of ‘rate card’ or data card for online display advertising. The opportunity to serve this market is open to everyone, and traditional direct marketing services providers have the experience backed with analytical expertise to make a difference.

Data cards are not only available on NextMark, but also on most list management web sites (many of which are hosted via the MarketMax Pro solution). An examples of these are the Parcel Magazine Mailing List and Developerfusion from World Innovators, and Pet Industry TotalBase from List Solutions.

“This online media is no longer new, and should be viewed as an extension of the services that traditional list brokers and managers represent and recommend to their clients,” says Lee Kroll, President, Kroll Direct Marketing.

You can download a free copy of the “2012 Data Card Trends Report” to see how the landscape is changing on our platforms.

Data Card Trends Report 2012

RFP event in Times Square draws a crowd

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

It was standing room only last night as 180+ digital media pros packed the Manhattan room of the Marriott Marquis overlooking Times Square. Only expecting 140-150, they had to bring in extra chairs to handle the overflow.

Who would have guessed that the mundane topic of RFPs would draw such a crowd on a Tuesday night in January?  The RFP is certainly a hot topic (or sore subject?) among those in the digital media business. (more…)

Why the RFP fails in digital media buying

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

As a follow up to the 9 ways the RFP fails in digital media buying, this article shows how today’s digital media landscape has rendered the RFP obsolete. (more…)

9 ways the RFP fails in digital media buying

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

The RFP is broken” is often heard among digital media planning/buying and digital ad sales teams (called “buyer” and “seller” in this article). However, the RFP – or Request for Proposal – has remained an ingrained part of the digital media buying process for guaranteed inventory.

This article explores the problems with using the RFP process in digital media buying. (more…)

2,500+ Top Website Ad Programs Now Available In NextMark

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

The 1,000 site milestone seemed like a big deal when we hit it last month. But now it seems so yesterday… today we hit another milestone: more than 2,500 sites are now represented in our data card index. Congratulations to the Accounts and Market Intelligences teams for establishing the relationships and doing the research and data entry to hit this goal ahead of schedule.

We’re running at a pace of more than 200 sites per day so it won’t be long before we hit our next milestone: 10,000 sites.

NextMark Release Paves Way for Digital Media Planning Apps

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Tonight, we will update the NextMark system to version 7.12.  I wanted to highlight a couple of themes related to the improvements included in this release.

First, if you have been following recent NextMark posts, you know we are working on building a database of digital advertising programs along with new apps to improve the digital media planning process.  With the 7.12 release, we are introducing the foundation to enable us to offer multiple applications within a single framework.  While is doesn’t look like much, we’ve added a stripe (see image below) across the top of the application that will eventually be an application switcher.  For now, NextMark users will see an app called Direct Marketing System—which is the name for the current set of capabilities offered under the NextMark brand.

NextMark Application with Stripe

So, what new apps are in the works?  The Digital Media Planner will significantly reduce the amount of time required to create high-quality media plans.  It will also provide access to a growing database of detailed digital advertising programs.  We are also working on Media Magnet, a tool to connect buyers to the digital advertising programs that best match their campaign objectives.

With every release, we aim to increase system stability and usability and 7.12 is no exception.  We’ve addressed more than 20 issues reported by our user community.

One of our ongoing goals at Nextmark is to drive down the transaction costs associated with buying and selling direct mail lists and other marketing programs.  In 7.12, we streamlined some of the key functions related to the Direct Marketing Exchange (DMAX)—a system that provides the ability for trading partners to electronically transmit mailing list orders using a standard protocol.  For more information about DMAX and how organizations can use it to reduce cost and increase business, refer to this post.

For more detail, check out the 7.12 release notes.

1,000+ Top Website Ad Programs Now Available In NextMark

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Last month, we announced a milestone: 50 Top Web Publishers Tap NextMark’s New Ad Sales Tool. Today, we report two more milestones:

1) That “50” number is already old news; more than 100 publishers are now on board. In the past month alone, another 50+ web publishers have signed on, bringing the count to 107.

2) More than 1,000 website advertising programs from these web publishers are now represented as “data cards” in our advertising program database. In fact, as of today 1,414 data cards have been published:

At the current rate, more than 2,500 of the top website advertising programs will be indexed and available by the end of the year.

Unlike in other media channels, digital media planners have never had a “go to” source of comprehensive information about digital advertising programs. They’ve used myriad tools and countless hours of drudgery to cobble together the information they need to present a professional media plan to their client, the advertiser.

Sure, media planners have long had good tools like comScore and Nielsen to get site metrics such as visitors, page views, and audience profiles. However, site metrics only provide a fraction of the information needed to produce a solid media plan.  Furthermore, site metrics tools are typically disconnected from the media planning system.

As a result, media planners waste a great deal of time tracking down the information they need for their media plan. Did you know that it takes more than 480 hours and costs an agency more than $40,000 to create and execute a media plan? Ouch.

With access to a data card database, a digital media planner gains access to all the information they need to make decisions and to create their media plan. Their life just got a lot better: no more late nights tracking down publisher details and pasting into other systems like Excel and Powerpoint. It’s all available at their fingertips in their media planning system. Now, they can spend more time on publisher relations, strategy, and other high-value activities.

Ad sales representatives from web publishers also gain an advantage by publishing data cards.  By making it easy for the media planner to buy from them, they get an increase in sales leads… and those leads are better qualified. So, they waste less time servicing cold leads and more time closing deals.

A prerequisite to a viable data card database is creating data cards for each and every advertising program. Nobody has ever done this before for digital ad programs. This is a monumental task requiring thousands of phone calls, tons of research, and many person-years of data entry. Basically, it means scaling up the research from a few sites on a single media plan to the tens of thousands of sites that sell guaranteed inventory on all media plans. And, because the market is in constant flux, this sisyphean work never ends.

NextMark is up for this challenge. We’ve done this before. We’ve published and maintain more than 110,000 data cards for other media channels. We are now taking a page out of our playbook and adapting our technology and methods to digital media channels: online display, mobile display, and online video.

We’re just getting started, but this early progress is a good indication of the value that data cards bring to both media planners and publishers.