After fifteen years hands-on experience with Madison Avenue agencies, Preston Bealle knows how to cut a media placement deal. As President and CEO of online retailer Babygear.com, Preston finds that most Web sites selling ad space are "less routed in cement because they don't have that much history and they tend to be hungry."
Babygear.com approached portals like AOL, Lycos, Excite, Yahoo!, Women.com, and Oxygen.com, and "got anchored as close to the baby shopping area as we could."
"If we couldn't find one, we asked them to create one," said Preston. Of course, not all sites were flexible at first, trying to "shoehorn [Babygear.com] into places they wouldn't fit.
"We know what the parameters are and we know what will pay out for us. It's almost gotten to be formula." Still, some media sellers attempt to close the media deal early, referencing such intangible concepts as "branding."
"We don't use the word 'branding' here. We think it's an evil word. We think it's an excuse for non-performance. We should be able to spend our marketing dollars and get an immediate return. If we spend a $1000 we've got to sell $3000 worth of strollers. If it doesn't do that for us then we'll drop that placement and go elsewhere. We went to the portals and told them how it had to work for us," asserted Preston. Eventually, some of the sites that were inflexible in the beginning "ended up chasing us and we did big deals."
Preston looks at the whole market identification process as a pyramid. Starting at the top, there are women who are pregnant and have shopped online, women who are pregnant, women who are starting to buy things online, and women who have a credit card. At the bottom of the pyramid are gift buyers, either male or female, who don't have a child. All other potential customers fall somewhere in between.
"If you see our ads on the sides of buses, you know we've lost our heads. You're either pregnant or you're not. If you're not, there's good chance we're not ready to know you. That's easier to define that looking for people who want to barbeque. We don't belong in anything where you're talking to a very broad audience of women."
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