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Digital RFP Does Not = Real Frustrating Process

By Joy Baer March 19, 2012 | 11:20am

Digital Does Not Equal Real Frustrating Process

Originally appearing March 19, 2012 in iMedia Connection

Digital has become an important element for agencies to include during their advertising campaigns. For the past four years, STRATA has been conducting surveys with media buying executives on important issues affecting the industry, one of which has always been Digital and how to get clients on board.  Our stats show that the industry has mostly moved past education and adoption issues, to now agree on the fact that the current Digital RFP process has become a nightmare. Digital RFP’s have become more and more complex as more and more Digital advertising options clutter up the field.
 
Definitely worth a read on some of the major issues, Namely’s CEO, Matt Straz pointed out in bold letter in a recent MediaPost article why the Digital RFP process is a mess. “People who work at agencies are frustrated because RFPs are still largely managed through email. A single RFP sent to a dozen publishers can result in hundreds of emails going back and forth among the parties.” Clearly, the process is tedious and lets be honest – it can be maddening. 
 
A special poll recently conducted by STRATA (with agencies of varying sizes that are on a wide spectrum of buying systems) turned up some alarming information, mainly that many people have thrown their hands in the air when it comes to the Digital RFP process. While 27% say they plan to purchase a platform to handle the process – a more surprising 58% said that they will not buy a system to handle this increasingly important media process.
 
So what are they left to do? Here is the shocking part for all of us in the media buying software industry – only 25% say they will use their media system. Ouch. Nearly half said they will use Excel to handle the process. A process that Straz labeled in his article is a pain in the neck for literally everyone, including the sellers, buyers and publishers.
 
I’m not saying that STRATA removed the Digital RFP sword from the stone when no one else could, but we have recently launched a Digital RFP module to our buying system that boils the request/response workflow process down to a couple of clicks while expediting negotiations and inventory selection.  I’d be lying if I didn’t say that we are pretty excited about it. BUT, there remains a problem. It is a problem of a mindset that is stuck in a traditional process. It is a mindset that as we have noticed for years – where Digital is great but Traditional remains the bread and butter. Well over a third of STRATA Survey participants say that they don’t ever see Digital ad spend being greater than Traditional.
 
What does the industry need to do? Educate. We as system providers need to educate the agencies on what is needed to streamline the process that includes Digital RFP. Yes, it is different than Spot TV or Print. But they can be equally or even more effective (sorry, Excel isn’t efficient). If agencies feel comfortable leveraging these tools, that will come across to their clients and demonstrating the value of Digital will be simple. I know for us at STRATA, we have the tools in place and it is up to us to educate agencies to help push this ever-changing advertising avenue forward.

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