Use insights to grow media ad sales

By: Rachel Parrinello Media Sales, Sales Coverage

US digital display ad spending is expected to grow by double digits in the coming years. The hybrid media companies (traditional and digital) and “pure-play” digital media companies are competing for this growing demand. New technologies continue to disrupt the capabilities and value of traditional advertising platforms, driving the growth of new products and companies (e.g., ad exchanges, DSPs, SSPs, etc.). Display revenue mixes are shifting toward video and mobile formats, and programmatic buying.  With so many changes happening so quickly, CMOs are inundated with data and ad spending options. This has created an unprecedented opportunity for sales. Specifically, for sales to take the lead in providing media buyers with data and valuable insights on where to invest. Are your media sales reps equipped to do this? They might be, if you are doing the following:

Harnessing “Big Data”

The ability to provide valuable insights requires the use of sophisticated ad systems, tools and resources. Companies are pulling together both internal and external (publicly available and purchased) data into data mines that process terabytes of data to deliver the right ads to the right audience at the right time. Companies are building or buying systems and tools that analyze the data, develop reports and capture the insights that the sales force can use with their clients. When companies’ IT infrastructures are inadequate, they have to rely on their sales force to dig into the data to figure it out, which can be time-consuming and costly, particularly in a tight labor market. Top media sales reps are in high demand, causing on-target-earnings to rise by more than 20% over the past two years. Perhaps instead of hiring more reps, you should make sure you are adequately enabling your reps to sell with insights?

Focus Reps and Managers by Category

Another way to provide more meaningful insights for buyers is to focus sales resources on specific vertical segments or categories (automotive, retail, financial, technology, etc.). This might be a “soft” focus, where reps are assigned first by geography and secondarily by account type (category). Some companies are betting on a strict category focus particularly for larger accounts. Sales management roles are typically focused on geography but may have a concentration within a category. However, over the past 2 years, larger companies have restructured their sales management teams to focus on 1-3 categories. AGI’s recent digital media study confirms this trend indicating that 75% of companies focus one or more levels of their management on a specific category. This increased category focus should enable reps and managers to specialize and offer more meaningful insights for their category. And companies are betting that these insights will generate enough incremental sales to more than pay for the higher costs of this coverage model.CategoryFocusInvesting in Specialists

Companies are also investing in specialist resources to cull out the most meaningful nuggets of information. These include roles like Emerging Product Specialist, Programmatic Buying Specialist, Video Specialist, and Mobile Specialist, each of whom can  provide insights on their specific offerings. Some companies deploy a Solution Strategist role designed to build cross-product multiscreen pitches for large accounts. Some companies go one step further, building dedicated “insight teams” that understand product, market, and industry trends they can parlay into meaningful packages for specific top advertisers.

With change comes opportunity. The amount and speed of change in the digital display marketplace is mind boggling – new products, new entrants, acquisitions, and never-before-seen volumes and availability of data, causing sales leaders to constantly revisit their go-to-market strategy, coverage model, and management tools to effectively and efficiently address their customers’ needs. “In order to get a meeting with the CMO, we have to be able to tell them something that they don’t already know about their brand,” a Chief Revenue Officer for a Top 20 US web property said recently. The bar is rising and so are the stakes. Organizations that do this effectively will win more than their fair share of the market.

Learn more about media sales best practices.

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Rachel Parrinello

Rachel Parrinello is a principal in the San Francisco office. She is a leader in the firm’s Sales Compensation, Media Sales and Technology practices. In this role, Rachel delivers sales compensation expertise to many client engagements and directs the firm’s sales compensation IP and benchmarking methodology. Rachel’s fact-based, practical and aligned sales compensation solutions help her clients drive profitable revenue growth. She frequently speaks on sales compensation topics at various associations and partner events. Rachel has authored several articles and whitepapers including How Revenue Planning Drives Sales Compensation Success.


Prior to joining the Alexander Group, Rachel started her career in sales and sales management for two Fortune 500 hardware companies and an Internet-based software reseller start up. In addition to managing her sales territory growth, she developed and implemented customer segmentation strategies, marketing programs, sales training programs, sales tools development, job design and performance metrics. She transitioned to sales management consulting when she joined the Alexander Group in 1999. Rachel holds a B.A. from the University of California, San Diego and an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. Rachel is also a Certified Sales Compensation Professional.


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