‘No more lead times’: Publishers rework their sales orgs with an eye toward new normal
After six months of racing to get ad campaigns and creative work done under tighter deadlines than ever before, publishers are rethinking the structure of their sales organizations.
To make sure they can respond more nimbly to advertiser demands, publishers are going into 2021 more focused on growing the post sales side of their sales organizations, either with full-time staffers or by boosting freelance budgets so that people can be added for contract roles, according to sources at four different media companies.
Like so many things that happened this year, the growing focus on post-sales roles, which include areas such as ad operations, optimization, and production, began before the pandemic struck. Historically, post-sales employees ate up a small percentage of a sales organization’s staffing budget, often in the range of 20%, said Matt Bartels, the media practice lead at the Alexander Group.
Yet starting last year, that balance began to change, as more publishers looked to build more in-depth relationships with advertisers. Today, pre- and post-sales roles often eat up at least half of a sales team’s hiring budget, Bartels said.
Publishers are making these decisions at a moment when many are trying to figure out how much to rebuild their sales teams after being forced to either halt hiring or slim down. Seventy percent of media company sales leaders said they’d either reduced their ranks or were thinking about doing so this year, according to a recent survey conducted by the Alexander Group.
“They have that opportunity to redefine,” Bartles said. “The challenge with that is, you do have a fixed budget.”
Throughout the year, brands‘ shorter planning cycles have had publishers scrambling to get campaigns done. Publishers said it was not uncommon that campaigns needed to get done in half, or even a third of the time used last year.
“It’s come down to the ability to execute quickly,” said Jason Wagenheim, the chief revenue officer of Bustle Digital Group. “There are no more lead times.”
Wagenheim and the rest of the Bustle Digital Group leadership have begun planning for 2021, and they’re endeavoring to add staffers to post-sale, client experience and ad ops teams. “You have to have that bench,” Wagenheim said.
Even legacy publishers with older branded content businesses and long-standing client relationshis have made these changes. Marla Newman, evp of digital sales at Meredith, said her team has expanded its post-sales teams as well, looking to add more growth.
“We continue to be fluid by evolving our sales and support team organization to effectively manage the business,” Newman wrote in an email. “The current structure has a strong focus on sales support (client services/activation) to enable best-in class execution of all client programs.”
Adding those people may help get a campaign done. But more people touching a campaign creates the potential for other challenges. For example, too many people participating in a campaign creates crowded lines of communication between client and publisher, Bartels said.
And adding too many voices to the mix can make it hard to foster ongoing dialogue between publisher and client — which ideally should lead to an ongoing business relationship on which publishers are increasingly dependent.
Newsletter publishers cautiously plan to expand editorial and sales teams
Publishers with newsletter-focused businesses are looking to grow their editorial and sales teams this year — but cautiously, to keep spending down during a time of economic uncertainty.
Magna 2023 forecast paints a resilient U.S. market, thanks to retail media and streaming
In its latest ad forecast, Magna is expecting a resilient U.S. market this year – boosted by retail, streaming and the auto industry’s bounceback.
How agencies are shaping the future of DEI beyond their own walls
Agencies are acknowledging that diversity efforts don’t stop with their companies. In addition to improving employee representation, now agency efforts in diversity, equity and inclusion are aimed at supporting clients and external partners.
SponsoredHow advertisers are fostering more effective publisher partnerships
Michael Weaver, senior vice president, business development and growth, Al Jazeera Media Network An everyday conversation between publishers and advertisers goes like this: The publisher invites the advertiser to a meal to talk about their business, attempts to delve into specifics on what the media buyer is looking to achieve, their audience breakdown and how […]
Newsletter publishers say they continue to see uptick in revenue despite advertising slowdown
At a time when larger media companies are feeling the pressure of the economic downturn and advertising slowdown, newsletter businesses continue to be in a period of revenue growth.
TikTok’s CEO faces bipartisan skepticism in first Congressional hearing on security concerns
The hearing comes amid calls to remove TikTok from government devices and in some cases even ban it entirely.