Confessions of a media buyer on ‘shake up of rep support’ as platform spend asks get ‘aggressive’

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This article is part of our Confessions series, in which we trade anonymity for candor to get an unvarnished look at the people, processes and problems inside the industry. More from the series →

Ad buyers relationships with platform reps are often tenuous – and dependent on how much ad buyers are spending on the platform. That’s even more clear this year. 

For the latest edition of our Confessions series, in which we trade anonymity for candor, we hear from a seasoned media buyer who says that the platforms are looking for more predictability when it comes to ad spending this quarter and that support from platforms reps correlates with how much brands said they expect to spend. 

This conversation has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity. 

Issues with platform reps aren’t uncommon. Platforms will swap out reps often. But something’s different this year. Tell us what’s going on. 

It seems like at the beginning of this year, all the platforms went through a shake up. They were pretty aggressive about asking brands how much money they’re going to be spending. Then, that seemed to lead to rep movements. We’re definitely seeing a shake up of rep support and it seems to be very much aligned to the answers that brands gave on how much money they’re going to spend.  

Why do you think that’s happening? 

I think the [platforms] are getting nervous about where incremental dollars are going to be allocated. So compared to previous years, they’re much more proactive under the guise of, “We’re planning together.” [They’re asking], “How much money are you going to spend this year? And how much money are you going to spend this year on my platform?” Usually you have some of that joint media planning that happens for very, very large accounts, the enterprise level, because you have joint media plans that are sometimes even tied to some of the rates you’re getting. But you never really experience that on small or medium accounts. 

That changed late last year and early this year? 

Yes. Now they want to know for the year, for the quarter, how much money is going to my platform. Then what happened in January is a couple of weeks later, all of a sudden you’re starting getting notices like, “Oh, we’re moving these reps around” or “Hey, you’re no longer going to have a rep.” I think there’s a lot more pressure this year compared to last year.

This isn’t just happening at one platform but a few? 

It’s Meta [Facebook and Instagram], Google and TikTok. They’ve all had rep shake ups. I’ve seen rep shake ups as an agency and I’ve seen shake ups from individual brands. We literally got a request from both Google and Meta that was like, “Here’s your list of clients. How much money do you think they’re going to spend next year?” And then they also went individually to the brands. I didn’t have those conversations last year [in 2022]. 

How did those conversations go over?

We are reacting to it from a perspective of like, it is a lot to ask. Yes, brands are building their 2024 plans, but typically we haven’t had to have these conversations like, “Ok, how much?” with the platforms directly unless it’s for fairly large accounts. One of the platforms actually used the language of, “We’re a public company. We’d like to get some predictability.” I was like, “Well, good for you.”

It sounds like they’re trying to figure out where to dedicate resources and put those where they’ll get more ad dollars. 

Google and Meta are doing that for high growth accounts. They’re putting a lot of more resources, community building and summits in place like leadership summits, vertical summits to really own the perspective, education and nurture of the relationships with accounts where they think of them being much more strategic. It’s a complete shake up compared to five years ago. We were working with [a big DTC brand], for example, and how Meta worked with us was as you spend more, they give you a bigger team, but they weren’t investing that much into bringing the high growth accounts together. 

So there’s a sense that rep support is even more dependent on how much you spend now. Why do you think that is? 

I think it’s because they’re trying to basically say, “Ok, how predictable can I make my [ad revenue]? How can I build the relationships to be deeper? How could I arm the advertisers that making the decisions [to spend more with us] like, ‘Hey, if you only have a budget that’s up 20% or 10% how do I then capture a bigger pie of that budget?’” … You have to work a lot harder for it now. They are starting to work a lot harder for it.

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