This post isn’t intended to someone or some organization. Just a piece of my analysis. So take it or leave it.
Before we discuss the main idea, there’s no mistake to give some introduction. Just like in any business, media business needs money. But in media, you just can’t rely on customers (or readers, precisely) who read/buy your media (either printed or online media). Yes there are some media who can live themself from readers only, but simply there’s no much of such case. Media should have more income, and the advertisers shall be the answer.
Why do they need the advertiser?
Simply because you need cash money. Usually, the advertiser shall pay in advance, before the media is published. This cash money is necessary for some media (especially for a new media, who doesn’t have enough capital), let’s say to pay the printing cost or to pay the bandwidth (if you’re an online media).
If you can grab a lot enough advertisers, sometimes you can get the profit before your media is published. Let’s say the production cost for 1 magazine is $1. You will print 10.000 magazines, so the cost will be $10.000. The price for one page of advertisement may reach $1000 or more (plus minus 30%). If you can get at least 10 advertisers, then you have just reached your break even position. Of course you have to pay salaries for you employees and monthly cost for office, etc. But remember, you will have income from sales of your magazine. If your magazine’s price is $4, and consider you can sell 7500 magazines. It means that you will get extra $30.000 for salaries, monthly cost, etc. What a business!
I Need You or You Need Me or We Need Each Others?
Sometime, I aksed myself. Who needs who? Does media need advertiser? Or advertiser needs media? Or they both need each other?
The latter should be the right thing and implemented in this business. But sadly, the world is not as ideal as we expect.
From simply calculation like few paragraphs above, you can see that media is a new interesting business. So dozens of people who have extra money want to invest in this business. The result is there are a lot of new medias around. From a high class magazine (perfectly designed and segmented to a higher class) to a crappy magazine (poorly and amateur designed and maintained). This really makes me sick!
The trend is: I can buy you (media).
The relationship is no longer good. So many medias on the market put the competition to a new level. Some medias dare to give price cut for the advertisers and start a price war. As a buyer, no one shall deny a discount, right? Ok, I don’t mind this price war since every media should have their own price for the advertisement.
But this price war and competition has leaded into a new perception, especially from big advertisers to push the media. Some of them now dare to get involve inside the media. Let’s say, the advertiser will sign the advertising contract for certain period as long the media will always cover their product in that period. Even more, the advertiser want to make sure that the media always talk and promote good things about their product. What a pity!
For a big media, usually they have a more bargain and not easily bribed in this way. But for some new media who needs cash in advance, this should be a bargain to get easy money. Of course they both (the media and advertiser) will keep their mouth shut, because this is for their own good. But, this has became a public secret. For an experienced user, you can easily recognize a “bought media” after read few articles inside for certain period.
More Polite Movement: Use the Emotional Approach
This is a smarter approach. You (as advertiser) don’t have to push the media, but simply you can do a lot of good things. If someone has done a lot of good things for you, then you simply will have a feeling to repay all the good things that you have received. If I were the advertiser, I will send few samples of my products. Then, I will tell the media to keep the products after the review process completed, and sometime ask the media to “help” build good image about the products? Sweet and neat trick eh?
Another common approach is to build a personal relationship with the editor/technical person or decision maker inside the media. Usually, the advertiser will get in touch with Account Executive not with the Editor/Technical people. Why? Because in the ideal world, we don’t want there is any deal between the advertisment and the published article. Whatever the article is, the advertisement should walk in different road. But again, hard to reach the ideal world. So, unofficial agreement usually exist. The advertiser will sign the advertising contract for a certain (longer) period, if only the media will write/speak good things about their products.
How to Build the Ideal World?
There are few approach to solve this problem. But most of them only can be applied on matured and well established company/media.
1. Account Executive (AE) is the only person who will deal with the advertiser. Ideally, this AE should understand a little bit about technical content of the media. So, he or she doesn’t need an Editor/Technical person (who have direct access to the published article or decision maker) to accompany him/her. The media should build a barrier between the advertiser and their kitchen.
2. Most of the problem come due to lack of prosperity. I have to admit, in some countries, media is not a favorite position for a job seeker. This kind of field doesn’t offer a lot of money for a job seeker. Because of this, many people who work in this field may easily “bought” with easy money. Some people don’t mind to write good review if the product will be given to you. Maybe you are lucky because at that time the product is good. But next time when same advertiser gives you a bad product, sometime you still have to write good things about it (because they ever give you their product for free). Not an easy way, ugh? So, prosperity is a must to build a good media. When you are wealth enough, you will not easily bought by anybody. Simple eh?
I just wonder, how can you write down bad things about the product from an advertiser while they are advertising on the same issue 🙁 Simply, you can’t do that. You have lost your objectivity. You have been blinded.
So, have I bought your objectivity? 😉
Can an Ideal Media Exist and Survive?
Yes and No. To build an ideal media is simply expensive and costly (and I’m not sure you still have enough money for the rest of your life, except if you do really have a lot of money). You have to build the image from the bottom of hell. If you were too idealist, you might not be so close with advertiser (and maybe you will become enemy each others) – so money is a hard to be found. But time after time, when you have put your good image in the heart of your readers, you circulation may rocket into a higher level. You will be known as an ideal media or something similiar and become a trend or guide for your reader. At this time, the advertiser, like or not, have to put their advertisement on your media because you are so important. Maybe they will not send all of their product to be reviewed in your magazine (since they know that you are so idealist, and hard to be bribed). They will send the product to be reviewed selectively. The bad one shouldn’t send to you, of course 😉
My suggestion is, as media, of course we need the advertisers. We need their money. But please don’t sell yourself for the money. Sometime, it’s not good to be a too strict person, but also don’t be a too “cheap” person. Mutual relationship is simply necessary. Don’t consider a big advertiser is the only advertiser in this world. Two of more medium advertisers will result the same. So, don’t count on big advertiser only.
As advertiser, I hope you don’t consider you can buy everyone with your big money. Being too arrogant and underestimate the media (consider you always can buy them) will ruin your image and your relationship with the media. The readers are not stupid (yes some of them are stupid, but not all). They may read and spread issue about your bad behaviour.
So, the conclusion is we need a balance. Nothing more, nothing less.