Winning by numbers: OOX’s Fouad Bedran provides his top 10 pitch tips

OOX’s Fouad Bedran provides his top 10 tips for effectively using digital advertising intelligence in a pitch

Media professionals tend to have little time to turn around a media pitch, which could put their agency at risk of a weak delivery on the pitch day. Here are a few tips from a digital advertising intelligence perspective that can quickly and effectively bring the pitch team up to speed with their subject brand and the competitive environment.

1. Research the category well. There are hundreds of categories and subs that are active online, and each category behaves differently. Generally, an agency pitches for a category that is not represented in its current client list, which is why it is very important for the pitch team to learn the category inside out. The team has very little time to bridge the knowledge gap compared with the incumbent agency, which has had at least a year to build its category knowledge.

2. Research the brand and its key competitors. Re-construct the brand’s media plan by campaign and review its strengths and weaknesses. Remember that media plans are designed by media planners and approved by clients. This should help the pitch team quickly uncover brand strategies and add a lot of ideas and insights to the pitch process.

3. The ad placement mix can reveal a lot of information. Do not neglect to analyse the ad placement selection on a category and brand level. The placement can yield precious information about the target audience. Benchmark your findings versus the briefed target audience. Ask questions: are websites used as per the usual mix or not? Would you have selected the same approach if the brand was yours? Are there any new name websites, ad networks (e.g. Google Display Network) or TV substitutes (such as YouTube), and why?

4. Cover at least one calendar year. Brands tend to be creatures of habit. Identify them and learn about them. A 12-month period helps you aggregate enough data to identify trends and work with a solid spend estimate figure. Moreover it allows you to detect marketing seasonality, such as around Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day for jewellery and restaurants; summer for airlines, travel and hotels; Ramadan for foods and automotive; and all-year for hospitality, telecoms and e-commerce.

5. Take the time to view the creative messages, campaign subject and ad formats. In online advertising you can’t afford the luxury of overlooking the creative, as the message tends to intertwine with the media strategy or could simply reveal ‘the’ strategy. For instance, display ad messages can reveal the campaign objective: awareness vs. performance? A video ad format placed on YouTube could be used as a cost-effective substitute for a TV spot, etc. Furthermore, creative messages served online tend to be customised and lead to an engagement with the user lasting longer than the 15 seconds for banner ads, or 5 seconds for video ads

6. Look for beyond-the-display executions. The online theatre has practically no limit. The MEA region is seeing a renewed uptake for sponsorships, premium inventory and special operations. The competitive database can help you uncover the great ideas that have already been played. According to OOXmonitor, 30.2 per cent of the display ad spend in 2017, including video, went to sponsorships and special operations in the GCC – not negligible at all.

7. Check the landing page. Consider the landing page as an extension of the digital advertisement. Inspect the landing page carefully as it could help you reveal precious information: has the advertiser hosted the landing page on a third-party platform such as Facebook? What tactics have been used to hold the user’s attention throughout the sales journey, post click: registration, test-drive, promo code, etc?

8. Study popular categories with a similar target audience. Your brand category might not be too active, however you can tap into a gold mine of ideas and information by identifying active and trending categories that share the same target audience as yours.

9. Make sure to flaunt your knowledge. In the pitch presentation, clients really appreciate a good competitive analysis. Package it all nicely in your pitch presentation, or reveal your knowledge about the brand and category in your strategy and recommendation. That will surely leave a good impression.

10. Stay up to date even after the pitch is over. In case you secure the business, you will then be ready for an upbeat quick start. A media person is like a financial analyst; if he/she misses information he/she might end up making wrong calls. Furthermore, the online environment is so fast-paced that one needs to stay up to date on a quasi-daily basis.

11. BONUS TIP: Choose your competitive digital data provider carefully. Not all data is good data. Don’t be tempted to go for the cheapest solution at the expense of the product. The most important measure should be the data and nothing but the data, with a focus on the accuracy of spend estimates and the amplitude of the relevant website coverage by market. Equally important, use a data provider that is digital native. The business of digital advertising is intricate enough, so make sure to onboard the provider that is most digital ad savvy and whose business is 100 per cent dedicated to this task.