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The Media Buying Narrative Is Broken—But It Can Be Fixed

by Pam Zucker, July 18, 2022
The Media Buying Narrative Is Broken—But It Can Be Fixed

This article was originally published on AdWeek.

A prevailing narrative from marketers today is the lament about the rising cost of media. They make statements like:

  • “I pay too much for media.”
  • “My year-on-year CPM increases are way too high.”
  • “My greatest concern for this year’s upfront is about how to measure unduplicated reach.”
  • “It’s great that all media is becoming data enabled, but it costs more money to execute and takes away from my bottom-line impressions.”
  • “There is not enough transparency in the media supply chain.”

However, instead of focusing on innovation and new business models to capitalize on the digitization of video, many marketers continue to use old scales to measure a new marketplace, creating a prevailing narrative of fear.

A visual representation of that fear might look like a Venn diagram with the overlapping conversation points being cost, measurement, and targeting, leading to fretful conversations around transparency, data-enablement and understanding unduplicated reach. The outcome of these conversations is often industry paralysis.


Reframe conversations about value

It’s time to flip the narrative and develop a business model that promotes a new mind meld. This new working model would use the new platforms and ad models to reshape how the industry thinks about costs, measurement, and targeting so that marketers can take advantage of new opportunities.

On the issue of cost and deconstructing the value of an impression, the commonly held belief has been that different impressions placed in different circumstances have different values, and marketers were willing to pay more for an impression that generates a larger audience or is more targeted. In today’s increasingly complex marketplace, determining the value of an ad in different contexts will require stress-testing different models, understanding that there isn’t an exact relational value between old and new.

Blowing up old rule books to test new models is not a commitment to a new benchmark, it’s a commitment to learning. To succeed in this complex marketplace, you have to be willing to test different price points in media.

Shift focus from impressions to attention

Another common refrain from marketers is the fear that targeted media, such as programmatic, is less transparent and reduces marketers’ spend value. But data-enabled reserved media is still in a nascent form and the industry is still in the process of determining whether it’s a better use of media and improves the viewing experience.

If you reframe the conversation from one of impressions to one of attention, then it doesn’t matter how many people have the opportunity to see an ad, it matters how many people actually view an ad. Sure, it may cost more, much more, on a unit or impression basis, but if reduced ad loads can attract greater consumer attention and reduce ad fatigue, then isn’t it ultimately a win-win for both the marketer and the viewer?

Viewership and solving for reach

The average viewer encounters between 6,000-10,000 ads per day—that’s a lot. When consumers were asked what factors would make them pay more attention to ads during a show, most and all the top responses were about creating a better experience by reducing ad loads, better targeting, or rewards for watching ads.


A data and technology-empowered narrative

Based on where the industry is and where it wants to go, everyone needs to work on creating a new narrative. The conversation needs to move beyond cost as the benchmark for our discussions and shift to attention, frequency management, understanding reach overlap and opportunity areas across media companies, and looking holistically across all screens.

 It’s time to move away from a fear-based narrative to data-based proof points. The way to generate data-based decisions in a fragmented, walled-garden marketplace is to replace fear with knowledge and insights.

Technology exists to make this possible. These solutions can unify audiences and optimize impressions across all screens and supply pools in a supply-constrained marketplace to provide the knowledge and insights that buyers need to make better decisions. The right technology solution can break the cycle of industry paralysis and replace fear as a motivation.

That means along with purchasing data, brands and agencies must also spend a portion of their media budgets on technology to secure their brands’ place in a future dominated by consumer choice and more fragmentation. The new narrative may look similar to the current one—but the difference is that it is solution-oriented.


This new narrative accounts for cost, measurement, and targeting as well as its natural watchouts and by-products—transparency, data enablement, and unduplicated reach. But it becomes a solvable puzzle through technology.

Ultimately, in this narrative, the industry can rely on technology to move forward to guide everyone through an uncharted, fragmented landscape with more choices and opportunities than ever before.


About Amobee

Founded in 2005, Amobee is an advertising platform that understands how people consume content. Our goal is to optimize outcomes for advertisers and media companies, while providing a better consumer experience. Through our platform, we help customers further their audience development, optimize their cross channel performance across all TV, connected TV, and digital media, and drive new customer growth through detailed analytics and reporting. Amobee is a wholly owned subsidiary of Tremor International, a collection of brands built to unite creativity, data and technology across the open internet.

If you’re curious to learn more, watch the on-demand demo or take a deep dive into our Research & Insights section where you can find recent webinars on-demand, media plan insights & activation templates, and more data-driven content. If you’re ready to take the next step into a sustainable, consumer-first advertising future, contact us today.

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