7 Questions to Ask Your Digital Media Partner: From an MD Agency

Digital marketing is by far the most popular option for brands looking to reach new and existing customers. However, where it can get expensive is when you spend money on digital media. This spending is used to promote a brand using various digital media platforms such as Google, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

Ryan Sauer, CEO of King James Digital

The reason digital media marketing works so well is because it is traceable unlike other more traditional above-the-line marketing initiatives like television, radio, or print advertising.

Since no one likes to part with hard-earned cash, it’s important to carefully consider who you partner with to run your digital media campaign. And to do this, one must ask the right questions.

As a digital marketer and agency owner, I suggest you ask your potential digital media partner the following seven questions before making your final decision.

1. What services do you offer?

You should look for an agency that offers a group of specialized functions that are executed consistently or that specializes in a specific function. It reduces the ability to hide poor performance across all services and ensures that all other providers are working toward the same goals, but are measured independently.

2. How do you define and measure media performance?

There are many ways to answer this question, but I suggest looking for a partner that focuses on performance gains back-to-back with a KPI metric of a business-aligned goal, which can be improved over time.

3. What factors will affect the performance of the media?

This question shows whether your media partner understands the built-in factors that affect your delivery and how they can and should be mitigated to achieve your performance.

4. Do you have a risk model or incentive structure to propose?

The best in the game often have a vision and understanding of how to drive a company’s performance. It shows that they understand and are aligned with the needs of your business and have some skin in the game. There are some complexities that relate to performance levers and reliance on other partners, but these can be defined in advance and help the marketing manager understand the key elements of managing between partners.

5. How is it charged?

This is a difficult question that will have many answers, most, if not all, are valid and fair. I would look for an answer between a fixed cost to cover overhead and servicing the account with a percentage driven by performance that will drive alignment with the business.

If the expense is particularly complex and high, a percentage of the media expense would also apply. Setting percentages on fluctuating budgets is a red flag, especially if that’s the only method of rate structure.

Long-term out-of-the-box media spending and channel engagement would also be of concern, as it means they may lack transparency in the pricing structure.

6. Can you share with me your list of direct and programmatic media partners, as well as the transparency of media buying?

What does this mean and why would you ask this question? It is a longer and more complicated conversation, but the crux of it is; If your media partner is charging a management fee for media purchases and you agree that there should be no additional costs, then you have the right to ask your media partner for insertion orders or view access to your media channels that they are administering on your behalf.

If it’s transparent, access shouldn’t be a challenge. I’ve seen too many accounts where the media is arbitrated in the reports and the media partners are taking extra margin. This question also shows the breadth of media reach your partner could and would offer.

7. Do you currently have a customer in this category, or have you ever had a customer in this category AND if you had a customer in the past, is the team that worked on them still in business?

This is not so simple to explain, but from the beginning, because I am not convinced that media buying should have exclusivity to compete in categories. In many countries and sectors, agencies have more than one or two competing brands.

I also don’t want to know that you have “experience” at a previous brand in my category, but that the people who have the experience in that category are still in business. This is often overlooked in the way the question is asked and in the way the potential agency partner responds.

While there are many more questions one should ask a potential digital media partner, these seven should be enough for you to list the few that are most important.

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