5 Key Guidelines to Establish With Your Local Media Partners

local media strategy

The local media buying process will run smoother if you explain your guidelines and expectations up front.

Before your start on rate negotiations and finalizing your schedule, make sure to establish your expectations with your local media partners, especially if you are a new advertiser in the market.   As with most things in business, clear communication is critical in order to avoid any surprises or problems when your campaign goes live.

Here are 5 key guidelines you should review with your local media partners up front:

Cutoff Days/Times

If you are advertising a special sale or promotion, your schedule will likely have a specific end date and time.  This should be listed on your buy and your traffic instructions.

This guideline pertains to cutoff times or days you require on a consistent basis.  Make your media partners aware if your commercials can never air past midnight or if they cannot air on the weekends.

Program “Hit List”

A “hit list” is a list of programs or networks where your commercial CANNOT air.  Be as specific as possible.  Instead of including a general category like talk shows, provide a list of programs like Jerry Springer, Maury Povich, etc.

This list is also critical for cable schedules.  Your cable rep may try to help by adding no charge spots to your schedule, across a wide variety of networks.  However, if they don’t have a clear understanding of which networks are approved, your commercial might air in a program that generates a negative response from your customers.

Read our article on controversial programming for a more detailed explanation.

Added Value

Discuss your added value expectations and requirements, with your sales rep, before you place the schedule.  Don’t surprise them with a request once your negotiations are complete. 

Explain the amount of added value you require, placements or elements you will accept and how you plan to evaluate the proposals.  Again, clear communication will save time for everyone and help you reach a mutually beneficial agreement.

For added value ideas, check out 4 Ways to Enhance Your Local Media Campaign for Free.

Required Spot Separation

Spot separation is a standard requirement with any broadcast schedule.  You need to determine how close together you will allow your commercials to air.

This can fluctuate depending on your campaign objectives and the number of commercials scheduled to air on a particular station.   An industry standard is 20 – 30 minutes. 

It is important to make your media partners aware of this expectation, especially if you plan to credit commercials which air too close together.

Whether your guidelines include some of the elements listed here, or other items specific to your brand, make sure you explain your expectations as clearly as possible up front.

Minimum Rating Requirements

Minimum rating requirements apply to television schedules, and are used to determine the quality of programming included on the buy.  You will usually have a different requirement for prime time programming and all other dayparts or “stripped” programming.

With viewer fragmentation, these benchmarks continue to change, but a good rule of thumb is to purchase stripped programming with a target demo rating above a 2.0 and prime programs higher than a 4.0.  Again, this can change depending on the market.   For more information on ratings, read 3 Ways to Use Ratings Data in Your Local Media Campaign.

Minimum rating requirements are important to establish, with your local media partners, for a couple of reasons.

First, if your media partners know your minimums up front they can tailor their submissions and only include programs you will consider.  This will save a lot of time for both you and the sales rep.

Second of all, this will help your media partner provide an acceptable “make good” offer for a preempted spot during your flight.   Most advertising rates are based on supply and demand.  So, it is possible that another advertiser will pay a higher rate for the same time period, resulting in a preempted spot.  A spot may also be preempted because of a program change or breaking news.

Your sales rep will offer another program option for your commercial or a “make good.”  If you have established your requirements for acceptable programming, you will reduce the time spent approving these schedule changes.

Whether you use some of the guidelines outlined above or develop your own list specific to your needs, we highly recommend you communicate your expectations clearly up front.

Shelby Nichols

About Shelby Nichols

Shelby is Director of Digital Media at Sheehy, a regional advertising, marketing and media agency. With close to 15 years in the industry she has planned and purchased a wide range of media and has a passion for all things digital.

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