Protecting the downside?

Is Your Media Buyer Protecting Your Downside?


In an unpredictable environment with extremely constrained resources, doing so is essential now more than ever. Especially when you’re buying the most consumed and desirable live programming (ie. DVR-proof) there is — sports.

Case in point: Last night’s Sunday Night Football game was widely billed as one of the marquee match-ups of the year. Two legends, Tom Brady and Drew Brees, were leading two strong teams and going head to head for likely one of the last times ever — in primetime, no less. 

The game was set to be a no-brainer ratings bonanza. We bought one :30 for a local client during the last break of the program. We sensed there was elevated risk in the timing of the spot, but if the game went down to the wire as many expected, our client was perfectly placed for maximum visibility. 

Instead, we got a dud. 

The game was never a competition. 28-0 in the first half. Final score: 38-3. 

I can almost guarantee you more people were watching in the stadium than they were at home when our client’s spot ran around 11:15pm. 

Why aren’t I panicked, you may ask? 

Because we protected the downside with a ratings guarantee. 

What’s that mean? 

It means we first agreed on a baseline audience rating figure, and resulting cost per rating point, with the NBC affiliate. If the game underdelivered on that audience benchmark, our client would be made good by paying a lower cost for the spot equivalent to the under-delivered ratings points, or receive free air time commensurate with the under-delivered audience figures elsewhere on their network. 

In plain English, it means we built-in a discount mechanism that enabled our client to only pay for the actual audience reached — not the projected audience reached, which is typically how such buys are agreed, regardless of audience delivery. 

Instead, our client was protected and in-line for unique financial preservation the morning after the game. Good thing, too — they’ve already texted me twice asking how big their discount is. 

Is your media buying agency protecting your budget with unique arrangements in an unpredictable time? If not, are you certain they’re preserving your resources like its their own?