Have you seen the video that’s all over YouTube where a guy is looking at a double rainbow? Take a look at it if you haven’t. He works himself into a frenzy of joy, alternating between cries of joy and tears. Overwhelmed, he asks, “What does it mean?” as if the existence of this natural wonder holds some added significance that is personal to him or maybe even spiritual. It cracks me up.
What does it mean?
We were watching that video recently and laughing. How inspiring! I wish I could feel the level of joy that guy felt more often. Coincidentally, we watched that video after the conclusion of yet another unfulfilling meeting with a network that had no hard data, was not yet in the rollout phase, yet was trying to convince us to urge our advertisers to spend money on buying what they offered. We said “What does it mean?” to each other, only we said it because we were truly confused—vexed—at what we had just seen, not elated or overjoyed. We had no idea what the presenters were trying to convey to us.
Challenges in Communication
Please let me know: Are we alone in our confusion? Speaking with others in the media business, I suspect that we are not. In fact, there are even committees in existence to tackle just such issues in our industry. So I can come out and say it: The communication between networks and agencies seems to be broken. Perhaps these communication pathways have not yet even been constructed because DOOH media is so new.
We thought a lot about it and believe we have identified two major challenges in our interactions with networks:
1) Presentations heavy on sales points but containing a lack of tangible facts.
2) Entitlement from certain established networks, behaving as if it is beneath them to have to explain their networks.
Once we spent time thinking about the disconnects we have had with networks, we started brainstorming possible solutions. That’s when we made the connection: Networks need to show us their double rainbow. I’ll explain.
Just as the man in the video was utterly blown away by the awesomeness of the double rainbow, we all as networks, players in the media industry and individuals, have a double rainbow in us. For our purposes in this post, the double rainbow will be synonymous with excellence. Your network must have something that we can take back to our client and say, “You have to see this!” Keep this in mind: We are media buyers. We want to buy media. We tell this to people over and over. Don’t come in and try to convince us to buy media in general. We need to know why we should buy YOU. Yes, your network has a double rainbow factor. Show us. (On a related note, your interactions with us should be positive; don’t waste time comparing yourself to other similar networks and certainly don’t disparage other networks—we might have purchased that network or at least be in the process of doing so).
Without getting too high-minded or pretentious, I also wanted to talk about some of the symbolism surrounding the double rainbow. If you notice from the video, the rainbow is transparent. Keep this imagery in mind during your discussions with agencies. Tell us your strengths as well as your weaknesses. Don’t gloss over important points just because they may be a sign of weakness. We will assess and discover your strengths and weaknesses anyway, so you might as well be up front. Another thing to keep in mind is that in order to buy you we need to know everything about you. We need to see the inside of your network. Provide us with everything from screen size and placement to information about your compliance process. Remember, we are held accountable for programs that we place. We will need these proof-of-performance pieces. It is through such communication and transparency that we can build trust and avoid the unpleasant surprises that ruin our day.
We at PITCH believe that networks are more than just digital displays placed in various venues around town. Each network also has its own set of data. This data is extremely important to us when buying media. As such, we propose a completely new paradigm of communication between “vendors” and agencies: Education rather than sales. Teach us what we need to know so that we can actually buy your offerings. You are selling us a platform that has its own array of nuances and differences and value. Approach us without assuming that we know everything. Educate us on your network’s growth and where you are going. Finally, listen closely to what we ask: Do we want an overview? Do we need some education about Digital Out-of-Home in general? Or do we understand your network and simply want to learn how to buy it? While you need to give us the data, don’t hide behind sales points, facts and figures or pre-digested clichés recited by rote. You need to impart this information in the way that we want to ingest it.
To follow up on our themes of clarity, communication and transparency, we wanted to offer some general guidelines that we believe will help each individual network and the industry in general:
1) Research: This refers to our points about needing tangible data and actual facts in order to make decisions. Research is more than just a safety blanket for us to justify presenting networks to our clients. Research is the key to our ability to understand networks, period. Without research we risk our own opinions to our clients rather than be able to cite the numbers that prove the network’s effectiveness.
2) Facts: Where is your network? How big are the screens? How often do the ads play? What is the dwell time of your venues? As previously stated, we buy on facts, not sales points, which are often glorified arguments about the virtues of the medium. Know your facts and be able to cite them, or be able to get answers quickly.
3) Harmony: Harmony is defined as the consistent, orderly, pleasing arrangement of parts; congruity. Why is this industry so fragmented? Why are we fighting each other? Why are we still struggling toward standards? First, we argue that competitors should spend time together communicating, sharing ideas and carrying out dialogue. Similar networks need to move their entire medium forward rather than battling for supremacy. Look at what cinema has done with its own industry body to promote the medium to benefit all companies involved. Additionally, each network presents its information differently, there are several buying platforms competing with each other, and even RFP’s take hours to decipher because they are all presented so differently. We should all see the forest through the trees and work on building the industry into a cohesive whole rather than avoiding dialogue and pursuing our own individual interests.
I know it sounds like I’m being harsh on networks, but that is not my intention. I’m trying to identify and solve challenges rather than point fingers. The man who saw the double rainbow found meaning and beauty and joy in something that revealed itself to him. We are saying that each network in this industry needs to do the same. Tell us what your double rainbow is—then we can understand it ourselves and communicate it to our clients with the same force, passion and joy as the man in the video who saw the double rainbow.