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NextMark Now Enables Private Deals for Direct Ad Buys

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Top-Secret

NextMark today unveiled new features in its Digital Media Planner tool that enable media planners to record and utilize private advertising deals when creating their media plans.

Keeping track of special advertising deals is a challenge for advertising agencies and for their media planning teams. In the past, media planners had to rely on their own memory and files to recall the special deals they’ve made with publishers. And it was difficult to know if others at your agency had already established a deal with a given publisher. With these issues combined with time pressure and the high turnover in those positions, special deals deals are often overlooked and negotiating leverage is lost. Ultimately, advertisers’ working media dollars are wasted every time a deal is missed.

NextMark Planner solves this problem by enabling you to enter your private deals directly onto the publisher’s data card adjacent to their standard placements and prices. With Planner, you can now set your own prices and create your own custom placements. You can see if others at your agency already have a special deal in place. Your special deals are stored securely and only available to authorized planners at your agency.

These special deals come in handy when you’re creating your media plans. Planner automatically displays all your agency’s custom placements and automatically defaults to your special rates. You’ll never again be embarrassed by missing out on a deal.

Along with the previously released private marketplace features, these new features give you a powerful tool to create and maintain your own directory of preferred vendors, contacts, and deals.

You can request your free trial of Planner here: http://www.nextmark.com/planner.

“Air Traffic Control” for Media RFP Proposal Management

Friday, May 10th, 2013

NextMark Planner RFP Manager Visualization

Last night, NextMark’s Digital Media Planning system was upgraded to give you a new tool for automatically keeping track of your Requests for Proposals (RFPs) and the proposals that come in response.

RFP management in digital advertising is well-known to be a frustrating mess. Despite recently celebrating the eighteenth anniversary of the banner ad, sending RFP requests and handling proposal responses is still a highly manual effort involving emails, Excel spreadsheets, shared file folders, phone calls, sticky notes, and plenty of manual labor. Despite its many failings and costing agencies more than $3,000 per campaign in labor, nobody has yet developed a widely adopted alternative to this time consuming and expensive process.

Fresh on the heels of version 2.0, NextMark Planner v2.1, released May 9, 2013, brings much needed automation to RFP management:

  • Send RFPs from your media plan – with contacts pre-filled for you (no more tracking down contact info)!
  • Automatically keeps track of who has viewed your RFP and who has responded with a proposal
  • Makes it easy to send reminders to those that have not responded
  • Automatically organizes all your proposals and documents (screen shots, media kits, etc.) all in one place
  • One-click access to proposal details
  • One-click accept or reject of proposals
  • Automatically tracks the status of every proposal – pending, accepted, or rejected
  • All this and more in a clean and super easy-to-use interface

This new set of features is now available to you if you’re using NextMark Planner. If you don’t yet have access, you can request it here: www.NextMark.com/planner.

RFP and proposal management just got easier with Planner 2.0

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Proposal-Manager-Screen-Shot

NextMark today announced an upgrade to its digital media planning software, which adds key functionality for handling RFPs and media proposals.

The Request for Proposal or RFP process in digital advertising is well-known to be a frustrating mess. Despite recently celebrating the eighteenth anniversary of the banner ad, sending RFP requests and handling proposal responses is still a highly manual effort involving emails, Excel spreadsheets, shared file folders, phone calls, sticky notes, and plenty of manual labor. Despite its many failings and costing agencies more than $3,000 per campaign in labor, nobody has yet developed a widely adopted alternative to this time consuming and expensive process.

NextMark streamlines the RFP process with the latest upgrade to its Digital Media Planner system. Version 2.0 of Planner extends the platform’s functionality by enabling media planners to directly interact with publishers to request and manage media proposals. Now, instead of using spreadsheets and e-mail to negotiate pricing and placements, Planner’s Proposal Manager module enables you to:

  • Quickly and easily request proposals from any publisher
  • Automatically track the status of all RFP requests
  • Source additional proposals through Media Magnet
  • Receive proposals online with all documents automatically organized
  • Collaboratively review and negotiate proposals online
  • Accept proposals directly into your media plan with a button click

Unlike prior efforts to solve the RFP mess, NextMark has invested heavily into the design of the user experience for both buyers and sellers. Unlike other solutions, NextMark employs two modes of sourcing proposals: The typical RFP method and a new patent-pending Request for Consideration (or RFC) method. That latter enables qualified publishers to request consideration for plan-appropriate media, giving planners a wider array of choices when they construct their media plans.

“NextMark has been listening to its customers, and is building the right tools for digital media planning,” said Sean Cotton of True Media, an early Planner pilot user. “Adding RFP functionality to the planning tool really extends the functionality, and puts more of the workflow in a centralized place. Agencies have to start leveraging web-based tools to get smarter and more efficient about the way they plan and buy media—and get their planners to focus on more high value tasks that drive their clients’ success.”

Since its initial release only four months ago, Planner has already been upgraded four times based on new ideas from customers.

“This upgrade is another giant leap forward in delivering on the promise of programmatic direct buying,” remarked Joe Pych, NextMark’s President. “We’ve been getting fantastic advice from our development partner agencies, listening closely, and working diligently to realize this amazing vision. As a company, connecting media buyers and sellers is what we have been doing for 13 years, and I am glad we are starting to bring that same efficiency to digital.”

Planner 2.0 is available today. Free training is available to all registered users. To request more information or access to Planner, go to http://www.NextMark.com/planner.

Budgeting just got easier with NextMark Planner v1.2

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

NextMark Planner Budget Overview

Tracking to client budgets can sometimes be a challenge in digital media planning. With the latest release of NextMark’s Digital Media Planner (version 1.2 released Friday, 1/25/13), you now have a handy visualization on your homepage that makes it easier for you to stay on budget on all your campaigns.

Want to get NextMark Planner? Request your free access here.

 

NextMark Aims to Replace Excel With New Digital Media Planner

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

Scottsdale, AZ – December 2, 2012 – NextMark, Inc. today unveiled a new system for automating digital media planning workflow at advertising agencies at the iMedia Agency Summit conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. The new system is called Digital Media Planner.

According to NextMark’s research, it costs agencies more than $40,000 per campaign in labor costs to create and execute a digital media plan and executing a digital media plan involves a tedious 42-step process. One of the main reasons for the high cost is the use of Microsoft Excel and manual processes. It’s a process that’s ripe for automation. The promises of workflow automation are to save time, eliminate mistakes, reduce transaction costs, increase agency profitability, and increase employee morale.

However, purpose-built workflow automation systems have so far failed to gain widespread adoption among advertising agencies. A survey of 65 digital media executives at the conference revealed that 80% (52 of the 65) still use Microsoft Excel and manual processes to create media plans while only 20% use a workflow system.  The four main reasons for failed adoption of workflow system alternatives to Excel cited are: too cumbersome, too limited in functionality, too expensive, and not integrated.

NextMark is aiming to replace Excel in the digital media planning process with its new Digital Media Planner system. The Planner is designed for independent digital advertising agencies, but can be used by agencies of all types and sizes. The system is accessed through the web as cloud-based software running on an enterprise-class SAS-70, Sarbanes-Oxley compliant platform.

Joe Pych, CEO of NextMark, unveiled the Digital Media Planner system and demonstrated the its main features at the conference including: importing from comScore Key Measures output; accessing advertising program details such as placements, inventory, rates, and audience profile via its data cards; creating a media plan using an intuitive spreadsheet interface; and exporting to Google’s DFA Ad Server. Mr. Pych indicated the system is available for free.

“Our goal for is to make digital media planning easy,” said Mr. Pych. “It seems like fighting windmills, but it’s about time someone replaced Excel because it causes so many problems and widespread unhappiness among digital media planners.”

Initial reactions to the Planner among conference attendees were positive. “My media planners are going to hug me for bringing this back to them!,” said Melissa Hodgdon, Vice President, Media Director of Engauge.

More information about NextMark’s Digital Media Planner is available on NextMark’s website at http://www.NextMark.com/dmp.

Media Magnet v2.1 gives you Goldilocks and Training Wheels modes

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Media Magnet has been winning praise among digital media veterans because it offers a fresh alternative to the much-maligned RFP process. It just got even better with version 2.1.

Early this morning, our superstar development team rolled out another set of improvements to Media Magnet. Altogether, version 2.1 includes 14 improvements that make it even easier to use.

Goldilocks Mode

As we’ve reviewed these new features, the one customers like the most is the counts in the category selector. It’s a simple but powerful tool. As you see in the screenshot above, each category now displays how many media programs are in the given category. This is helpful in creating a consideration set that’s not too big, not too small, but just right. Goldilocks would love this!

For example, in the Arts & Entertainment category, there are 1,389 media programs… that’s a big category! Maybe it would be a better strategy to pick a sub-category like Humor that only has 51 media programs to refine your consideration set. It all depends on what you and your client need.  The nice thing about this feature is it gives you more insight as you are creating your campaign. So, you can make more informed decisions.

Training Wheels Mode

We’ve also introduced a new “training wheels” mode (that’s what I call it). Previously, when you posted a new campaign it would instantly go live. That’s super-efficient, but sometimes it makes sense to have a review before releasing it. That’s what this new feature is all about. Now, when you post a new campaign we’ll review it with you before it goes out.

With this feature, you don’t have to worry about an embarrassing misfire. It also makes it easier to kick the tires without going live with a campaign.

More to come

We hope you like the new features. Please let us know how we can make it even better!

What we learned in launching the RFC

Monday, April 9th, 2012

On February 17, 2012, we quietly launched an alternative to the much-maligned RFP called the Request for Consideration or RFC. The aim of the RFC is to provide a better way for buyers and sellers of digital media to connect and collaborate on media plans. The goal of the RFC is to eliminate the hassles of the RFP while encouraging more innovation.  We also launched two products support the new RFC method: (1) Media Magnet for Media Planners and (2) Compass for Publishers.

As with any new product launch, listening and adapting is the key to success. I never get anything right on the first try. Here’s what we’ve learned from agencies and publishers since introducing the RFC seven weeks ago.

What we learned from Agencies

As any sales rep will attest, it’s not easy getting a meeting with a media director. They are incredibly busy people with jammed calendars. Despite their busy schedules, many have asked us to come in to show them and their teams the RFC and Media Magnet. I think they’ve invited us mainly because they hate the RFP and are hungry for an alternative.

So far, 31 leading digital agencies have begun using Media Magnet and 6 more are being set up this week. I’m very pleased with the initial adoption by these great companies and grateful for working with them to improve the industry workflow.  I’m also happy to report that 100% of the agencies we’ve met with have signed on to try Media Magnet.

In initially introducing Media Magnet, we presented agencies with two key benefits: efficiency and innovation. We discovered a third unforeseen benefit through these initial discussions: organization of proposals. One of the challenges that agencies face is tracking and managing of all the proposals they get. We thought it was a given that the Media Magnet should be good at organizing information. We did not realize how much of an improvement it was over existing systems (emails, file servers, etc.). So, we are now including organization as a key benefit.

We learned that agencies want a lot of visibility and control. That’s not really a surprise. In our initial implementation, the list of publishers who received campaign alerts was not displayed. Media planners need to be able to see this list and to be able to control it.  They want to be able to add and remove publishers from the list.

We made a mistake in positioning Media Magnet as a standalone product that runs alongside other RFP tools. We assumed that every agency already had good RFP automation.  Since Media Magnet implements a fundamentally different process (the RFC), our initial approach was to say, “keep using whatever you are using today for RFPs and use Media Magnet to source additional ideas with minimal effort with the RFC.” But this has resulted in proposals coming in from two different directions. Media Planners want all their proposals from all sources in one place.  They don’t want to get proposals from RFPs one way and proposals from RFCs another way.

We also learned that Media Magnet should be extended to support the RFP process. As one media director put it, “You are selling the product short by limiting it to the RFC. You could easily add RFP capabilities.” Easier said than done, but the point was well-taken. It makes sense to be able to run RFPs and RFCs through a single interface.

We’re now in the process of building version 2.0 of Media Magnet, which incorporates the initial learnings: transparency and control of alerts and RFP automation. We’re already pretty far along with the development and it should be out by the end of this month (exact date TBD).

What we learned from Publishers

Publishers are also willing to try out the RFC.  Hundreds of publishers are already getting campaign alerts.  22 publishers have already signed up for “Pro” Compass accounts which gives them access to the Campaign Navigator and all the campaigns on the system. Another 27 have requested free trials and are in the process of getting set up.

Publishers are impressed by the clean and simple design of the product. However, to our dismay, they don’t care about technology.  As one ad sales rep put it, “The last thing I need is another system to log into.” What they care most about is qualified sales leads.  They like when they get an email saying, “Here’s a new campaign that matches your inventory. Check it out.”

We’ve no significant product enhancement requests from publishers. What they want is more sales leads. Publishers want us to ramp up the number of campaigns in the system.  There’s only been a trickle of campaigns so far because we are just starting to get agencies up and running on the system.  You can expect a significant increase in the coming weeks.  Until that trickle becomes a flow, publishers will continue to get free access to Compass.

Happy 12th birthday, NextMark!

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

NextMark is 12 years old today. We opened our doors here in Hanover, NH on March 28, 2000. I’m thinking back on the good and bad times and want to share some of the highlights. (more…)

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

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.