Programmatic. Pre- and post-sales roles. Inside sales. Forecasting. These are just a few of the topics challenging media ad sales executives.

Recently, Alexander Group’s (AGI) Media practice leaders met with members of the Media Advisory Council (MAC) in San Mateo, CA. The MAC included top executives across integrated broadcast, integrated print, pure-play digital and ad-tech. As AGI is currently recruiting media sales organizations to participate in the 2019 Media Sales Study, this MAC session focused on the top challenges facing the industry and insights into the sales transformation needed to meet new customer demands.

Of the topics presented by AGI, the MAC identified two critical challenges media firms must address to generate revenue growth and achieve success in this ever-changing environment.

1. Integration of Programmatic

Media sales firms are integrating programmatic buys into their sales platform. The challenge? Many sales representatives are ill-equipped to handle programmatic, data-driven buys because they lack the necessary skills, knowledge and/or tools. Attendees shared a variety of strategies to further integrate and optimize their programmatic offerings. Some have integrated a hybrid team to sell core offerings and programmatic. Others have employed stand-alone teams. All expressed challenges with the overall management and tracking of campaign performance. And with the integration of programmatic comes the additional challenge of forecasting, goaling and comping for programmatic sales. Most attendees felt they haven’t yet found that “silver bullet” solution; however, all shared an interest in the findings from the upcoming AGI study, which will gather both prevalence of practices and “best” practices.

2. Emerging Roles

How are media ad sellers managing the full responsibilities now required to meet customer demands? With difficulty, according to MAC attendees. The demands from buyers, the incredible variety of product options and massive amounts of data have become too much for one seller to manage. MAC attendees stated some sellers feel over-burdened when they have to do everything in the sales process from qualify, persuade, close, fulfill and renew. Thus comes the need for new roles to assist with the pre- and post-sales activities.


To truly deliver value to clients, additional market research is necessary to understand the client’s business and needs. Companies can use pre-sales roles to gather client intelligence and then pair that with the sellers to create a strategic plan. MAC attendees stated that sellers’ time is sub-optimized when they have to perform all of the pre-sales work. Actual “sales time” can be limited when they have to spend considerable time with the data, research, product or solutions team to gain additional insights and ideas. Pre-sales roles can help facilitate data, research, product or solutions activities and enable the seller to focus on other tasks necessary to prepare for client meetings and account management.

Inside Resources

The pressure to be as productive and efficient as possible led many MAC attendees to discuss emerging practices on the use of inside resources. While there is a need to improve and leverage inside sales and support resources in the future, one question surfaced: how do you figure out the right ratio of inside sales representatives to outside sellers? Another major theme was the use of centralized or regionalized support roles for non-direct selling responsibilities. The 2019 study will dig deeper into emerging trends for inside resources.


What do advertisers require as a deliverable and what would drive the engagement for repeat business? With retention as the biggest key performance indicator, post-sales roles centering on client analysis and campaign success can assist sellers with showing value through solution selling, resulting in increased renewals. Improving renewal and retention rates is a key component for any organization’s growth strategy. This is also a hot topic in high tech. AGI will support findings from our media clients with cutting edge information from our high-tech industry.

The council also discussed the following issues currently facing the media ad sales industry:

  • The roles of agencies – customers prefer one point of contact which shows the need for publishers to build a relationship directly with advertisers. How do you find the right balance?
  • Attribution, ROI and data – producing client value is a direct correlation to providing supportive campaign insights and measurement.
  • Recruitment – many publishers are sourcing new hires solely through the media industry and by word of mouth. A fresh outlook and database of people from cross-over industries such as technology could assist with finding new talent.

The MAC session provided important perspectives about imperatives facing the industry. Ready to contribute to the conversation? Join the 2019 Media Sales Study*! It provides actionable insights for publishers looking to address industry challenges and win more, now.

*Participants will receive a complimentary, customized report with industry trends, best practices and benchmarks comparing your company’s summarized data findings to the industry. All information is confidential and shared only in aggregate.

To learn more about the 2019 Media Sales Study or how you can become a member of the Media Advisory Council, please contact a Media Sales practice leader.
1. Media: Sales Transformation Solutions – Are your media ad sellers equipped to meet new advertiser demands?


Insight type: Article

Industry: Media Sales

Role: C-Suite, Sales and Marketing Leadership

Topic: Revenue Growth, Talent

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