Posts Tagged ‘NextMark’

The Great Time Suck

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Nearly 70% of the $9 billion display media market still occurs in the “transactional RFP” channel. Source: Arkose Consulting

This post originally appeared in AdExchanger 

Why Publishers Hate the Transactional RFP Business 

I have been thinking about, and trying to solve, agency digital workflow problems since 2008.

Given the complexity of digital media, the variety of creative sizes, millions of ad-supported sites, and dozens of ad servers, analytics platforms, order management and billing tools, it goes without saying that the digital marketing stack has been hard for any agency to put together.

Recent research has tracked the immense level of complexity involved in digital media planning (more than 40 steps) and the tremendous expense involved in creating the actual plan (up to 12% of the media spend). It all adds up to a lot of manual work for which agencies are not willing to pay top dollar, along with frustrated agency employees, overbilled clients and a sea of technology “solution providers” that only seem to add to the complexity.

Media planning on the agency side is a big time suck. Yet some agencies are still getting paid for it, so it’s a problem that is going to get solved when the pressure from agency clients increases to the point of action, which I think we’re just now hitting in 2013.

But who is thinking about the publishers? Despite dozens of amazing supply-side technologies for optimizing programmatic RTB yield, there are only a few providers focused on optimizing the 70% of media dollars that flow through publishers’ transactional RFP channels.

DigiDay and programmatic direct software provider AdSlot and recently studied the transactional costs of RFPs. The sheer numbers stunned me. Here’s what one person can spend on a single RFP:

  • 5.3 hours on pre-planning
  • 4.2 hours on campaign planning
  • 4.0 hours on flighting
  • 5.3 hours on maintenance
  • 3.3 hours post-campaign 

That’s more than 22 hours – half a business week – spent creating a single proposal and starting a campaign, which, according to the study, has a less than 35% chance of getting bought and a staggering 25% chance of getting canceled for performance reasons after the campaign begins. The result is a 25% net average win rate. That’s a lot of work, especially when you consider how easy it is for agencies to lob RFP requests over the transom at publishers. On average, publishers spend 18% of revenue just responding to RFPs, which translates to 1,600 man-hours per month, according to the study.

So, we have a situation in which agencies, which are firmly in control of the inventory procurement process, are not only wasting their own time planning media, they are also sustaining a system in which their vendors are wasting numerous hours comporting with it. In short, agencies spray RFPs everywhere, and hungry publishers respond to most. The same six publishers make the plan every year, and a lot of publishers’ emails go unanswered. What a nightmare.

A Less-Than-Perfect Solution

To combat this absurdity, many publishers have placed large swaths of their mid-premium inventory in exchanges where they realize 10% of their value but avoid paying for 1,600 hours of work. The math isn’t hard if you know how agencies value your inventory. Publishers aren’t stupid. Inventory is their business, and most work very hard creating content to create those impressions. These days, every eyeball has a value. Biddable media has made price discovery somewhat transparent for most inventories. Programmatic RTB is great, but not all publisher inventories are created equal. A small, but highly valuable percentage will never find its way into an SSP.

Publishers will always want to control their premium inventories as long as they receive a greater margin after transactional RFP labor costs. Publishers who actually have strong category positioning, contextual relevance, high-value audience segments and a brand strong enough to offer advertisers a “halo” have to manage their transactional business so they can maintain control over who advertises and what they pay. This looks the year that demand- and supply-side software solutions may finally come together to solve the problem of “transactional RFP” workflow.

A couple of new developments:

  • Demand-Side Procurement Systems Are Evolving: Facing significant pushback from clients and seeing new and accessible self-service media buying platforms gain share, agencies are looking hard at tools to gain efficiency. Incumbent software systems like Strata and MediaOcean are modernizing, while new, Web-based tools are gaining adoption among the middle market. Suddenly workflow efficiency is all the rage and agencies that spend 70% of their money in the transactional RFP space want a 100% solution.
  •  Supply-Side Direct Sales Systems Are Available: A few years ago, there were lots of networks and marketplaces for publishers to put inventory before going directly into exchanges. Many were more generous than today’s exchanges, but still offered low-digit CPMs and not much control over inventory. Now there are a variety of systems that plug directly into DFP and enable publisher sales teams to have real programmatic control over premium inventory. AdSlot, ShinyAds and iSocket are rapidly gaining adoption from publishers that want another premium channel to leverage, without giving up pricing control. To succeed, these publishers’ systems must be connected to the platforms that manage demand.
  •  Who Put Peanut Butter Into My Chocolate? What is slowly happening, and will continue in a huge way in 2014, is that demand- and supply-side workflow solutions will come together. What does that mean from a practical standpoint? Planning systems will be able to communicate with ad servers, eliminating double entry work; ad servers will be able to communicate with order management and billing systems, eliminating even more duplicative work; and the entire demand side system will be able to communicate orders directly into the publisher workflow systems and ad server.

Simply put: Agencies will be able to create a line item in a media plan, electronically transmit an order to a publisher, which the publisher will electronically accept, and the placement data will be transmitted into the publisher’s ad server. A line item will be planned, and it will begin running on the start date. Wow.

That’s what we are starting to call programmatic direct. It’s a world with a lot less Excel and email, with thousands of hours that won’t get wasted on transactional RFP workflow for agencies and publishers.

What kinds of amazing things can do with all that extra time?

The most powerful free marketing tool ever offered on the Internet

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

NextMark’s new and improved Mailing List Finder tool has been getting some rave reviews. People are liking the media planning and strategic marketing insights it provides. Reviews don’t get much more positive than this one:

“This is the most powerful free marketing tool that I have ever seen offered on the Internet.”

Wow. Can’t beat that!

The List Finder is getting noticed by more people every day. National Public Radio has called it the Google of Mailing Lists and the Direct Marketing Association gave NextMark the Future Innovators Award for creating it (among other things).

Have you tried the Mailing List Finder? I’d love to hear your feedback. Better yet, post a review on your blog 😉

Online is just as messed up as offline marketing

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

I’ve been doing some research into the online display advertising channel as a natural extension to NextMark‘s media planning tools. You might assume that everything is streamlined and super-automated in this world. But I am finding that it is messy and crude, perhaps even more so than the offline world (if you can believe that).

A video from Yahoo! previewing AMP! (since rebranded as APT) does a good job of explaining some of the messy problems with today’s solutions:

“Turns out that buying and selling ads online is byzantine with inefficient processes and cumbsome legacy systems. Nothing works well or together. [..] The current system is – to put it politely – slow. It may also be inaccurate. And you know going in that you will have to overbook to cover your promise. […] You have to cobble them all together. It took ten separate contracts and two weeks. […] A disconnected process full of time-consuming manual steps and multiple approval bottlenecks to catch the mistakes inherent with the process.”

Is it just me, or does this seem a lot like list rental? (more…)

Harold Pratt Beats the Economy with NextMark and MIN

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Harold Pratt Harold Pratt, president of Pratt Direct Marketing, knows how to survive and thrive in a down economy. He’s discovered how to do more with less by exploiting NextMark and mIn. According to "Meet the Broker: Harold Pratt":

"I would say you can do a lot more," he says. "You can handle a lot more business with one or two people than you could back then and list searching is a lot easier today, using tools like NextMark and MIN than in the olden days of having to leaf through an SRDS (Standard Rate and Data Systems) directory."

Mr. Pratt knows that an inefficient back room operation will steal time and money from you every day. He’s implemented tools that enable him to spend more time delivering valuable insights and advice to clients and less time on “grunt work.” Now that’s smart business!

Installing the Mailing Lists Search Tool

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

To add the mailing lists search tool to your web site and provide your visitors with access to over 60,000 mailing lists, just copy and paste the following code into the HTML document where you want the search tool to appear:


NextMark innovations recognized by DestinationCRM (CRM Magazine)

Friday, October 30th, 2009

Destination-CRM-logo DestinationCRM wrote a detailed story covering the DMA's Future Industry Award winners and recognizing NextMark as one of the eight recipients of this inaugural award. According to the article:

Bernice Grossman, principal consultant and founder of Direct Marketing Resource Services (DMRS) Group and one of the FIA judges, says the award is meant to spotlight innovation thriving in the face of a recession. "The economy was so stifling," she says. "This was a way that we could tell everybody else in the industry [that] there's a lot of wonderful stuff happening."

The 11 judges, who were selected from the DMA membership, took two rounds of evaluations to winnow the field of 54 down to the group of 12 finalists. Those evaluations were based on detailed explanations provided by each submission of:

  • the innovative product or service, including whether the offering is entirely new or a new spin on an existing offering;
  • the impact the product or service has on the end user and what benefits have been achieved or are anticipated; and
  • the impact the product or service has had on the marketing community overall.

It's an honor to have been recognized among all the deserving innvovations in the marketing field! See the full article here.

NPR cites NextMark as the Google of Mailing Lists

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

NPR - Online Data Presents A Privacy Minefield Last night, NextMark was featured in part 1 of a story on data privacy by Martin Kaste on National Public Radio‘s All Things Considered program. NextMark’s mailing list search tool was cited as the “Google for mailing lists” which is exactly what it is. It makes it easy to search virtually every mailing list available, with more than 60,000 mailing lists from 1,400 sources in the index.


NextMark wins Future Innovators Award at DMA09

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Pych and Chilcutt and accept FIA award

Dma-future-innovators-award NextMark is on a roll! At today’s opening of the DMA09 conference, the Direct Marketing Association today awarded NextMark with its inaugural Future Innovators Award. Shown above are NextMark’s Joe Pych (left) and Scott Chilcutt (right) accepting the award from the DMA’s Keith Baker (center).

This award is a nice validation of NextMark’s developments for the list business. According to the DMA, “This award recognizes the innovative advances being made in the field of marketing. Today’s marketers, faced with unique challenges, are experimenting as they strive to rebalance. Recognizing that unexpected changes foster ingenuity and creativity, and that experiments usually garner surprising results, DMA’s FIA awards are now showcasing and rewarding those outstanding achievements. The awards will be presented each year to suppliers of new products or services exhibiting at DMA’s annual conference that are deemed the most influential and having improved the global marketing community in the previous year.”

Want to see what the fuss is all about? Stop by DMA09 booth #1930 or visit

The 10 count challenge

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

The challenge: Can NextMark Select deliver a high-definition "knock out" count in 10 seconds or less? Watch this (short) video to find out:

What do you think? Comment below if you like fast counts.

DMA09 Stimulus Program for Service Bureaus

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Tough times demand innovation. At DMA09 booth #1930, you can learn about NextMark's "stimulus program" for Service Bureaus, called NextMark Select. Although this video is from an old beta release, you can see the possibilities:

Stop by NextMark booth #1930 at the DMA show to see a live demonstration of the latest stuff, including high-definition counts! You will also find out how this new technology can help you to differentiate and profitably grow your service bureau business in this challenging economy.