Media Buyers Should Be Watchdogs Too

Brian Meckler
April 21, 2011 — 1,563 views  
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Media buying works in three phases: the plan, the placement and the reconciliation. A lot of time and energy are spent discussing the importance of finding the right media, reaching the right target audience and repeating the ad frequently enough to make an impact. These aspects of media buying is where a lot of agency expertise comes in to play.

The third part of the equation, reconciliation, sometimes gets over looked. I want to explore the importance of reconciling the monthly statements you receive from your media vendors. Many people may assume that the bills they receive are accurate. There can be many errors that you might not catch without comparing both the insertion order and the statement. For example, you may have purchased a radio schedule that should run spots from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. but the station actually ran those spots overnight. You may not have received the total number of ads purchased, the wrong ad runs or your ad doesn't receive the number views, also known as impressions or rating points, you may have purchased.

There are a few ways you can purchase ads, but this is how we justify our media costs at Absolute Marketing Group. In many instances, we negotiate to purchase a set number of Gross Rating Points (GRPs). GRPs are a form of measurement that multiplies the number of people who see an ad by the number of times they see it within a given media schedule. In other words, GRPs are frequency times reach. For example, say you bought an ad on a TV program and half (50%) of everyone that watched TV, watched that program. If you ran that ad five times, your GRPs would be 250 (5 ads x 50 [percent of the audience]).

Here's an example of the power of invoice reconciliation. Recently, we ran a six month TV schedule for a client in which the number of gross rating points (GRPs) we purchased were under-delivered. We purchased an ad schedule that was to deliver 75 GRPs per month for the client on this particular network. When I received the invoice at the end of the month and compared the insertion order to what was actually delivered, we received 41.5 GRPs. The ad schedule was under-delivered by approximately 45 percent. In other words, we received just over half of what we ordered. To put a dollar amount to this, if we purchased $1,000 worth of ads, we wouldn't have received $450 worth of the ads we purchased.

We contacted the company and had them schedule make goods ads (free ads) so we could get back the points the client paid for. Not all of the make good ads ran. The schedule was under-delivered for all six months of the campaign. You can see how many dollars would have been wasted if no one had reconciled the statement. We do have the client on track to receive all the ads they paid for, but it took a lot of diligence to make sure the client got what they paid for.

I highly recommend you reconcile your invoices or make sure your media buying firm reconciles every invoice. If you have any additional questions about this subject, please feel free to send me an email at [email protected] or post a comment on our blog at

Brian Meckler

Absolute Marketing Group

Marketing Advisor at Absolute Marketing Group