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Brains Trust - Future of Media Sales & Media Sales Specialists


Welcome to the first in a new 'Brains Trust' series where we'll regularly ask MediaScope's network to comment on topical industry issues. 

This time the 'Brains Trust' considers the future role of media sales and media sales specialists in a fast changing, automated-trending market where we've asked....

How do you see media sales developing over the next 5 years and what should media sales specialists do to prepare?

Click on the names below or scroll down the page to see their answers -

If you'd like to share your views feel free to add your comments below or get in touch to be part of MediaScope's 'Brains Trust'.

Laina O'Donnell - &

MediaScope Brains Trust - Laina O'Donnell

As trading desks and networks become increasingly dominant and the selling of display becomes even more automated, digital media sales professionals will need to shift their focus from selling straight forward display based on reach and frequency to providing expert guidance and advice on strategies that creatively meet their client's business objectives.

In order to do this, sales professionals need to know their product and audience inside out, and ensure they are always up to date with the latest technologies, trends and industry developments so they can provide the expertise needed not only to make the sales, but to ensure they deliver a strong ROI. I see the key areas to skill up on are native advertising, branded video and social media strategy - and never forget that amazing customer service is the ultimate media sales professional tool!

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Jane Huxley - Pandora

MediaScope Brains Trust - Jane HuxleyFive years is a very long time frame to predict – and I’m not sure we’ll ever see horizons like that again. Used to be a time where we could “see” product roadmaps and predict consumer adoption 1-2 years ahead of the curve. Those days are long gone and with new models, markets and solutions to problems we didn’t know we had, we need more than a Chrystal ball for that one.

I think there are a couple of interesting trends to watch –

  • Shifting dollars in the market  and by that I mean the distinct technologies influencing inventory purchase strategies at the bottom, middle and top of the pool. This will have a big impact on the skills and services required by agencies.
  • Big Data – will break down into silos that make sense. In the case of Pandora, the bet we are making is around Big Personalised Data – and the rise and rise of first party data to target and influence engaged consumers. (the cookie is dead)
  • The maturation of “native advertising” - at the end of the day consumers know a con when they see one.  Context, relevance and targeting will be key to delivering ads which are truly seen as value adding.  Again the case of Pandora, native equals audio, and we will see brands literally “talking” to the right customers at the right time.

*Jane Huxley also offers her views in MediaScope's Women in Media profile series

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Zac Zavos - Conversant Media (publishers of The Roar, Lost at E Minor & Techly)

MediaScope Brains Trust - Zac ZavosI see a few trends developing. One is that standard display media is increasingly being bought and sold programmatically. Second, the formats being traded aren't really the best way to advertise online.  And third, in the digital space clients are starting to trade directly. My view is that this will lead to more capacity being freed up by media agencies for crafting compelling and effective online campaigns with publishers who are agile enough to move beyond standard display units. Publishers who can present compelling formats for brands will see great traction. We've swung our boat in this direction and so far it's working well.

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Michael Petersen - MD of Media Sales company, jfmedia & Founder of MyMediaTradingDesk

MediaScope Brains Trust - Michael PetersenWe've got to get back to relationships. The commoditisation and fragmentation of Media has left Buyers for mid level Agencies with too many options and not enough time to delve into them. I see a huge need for Media Owners to make life easier for their clients by offering and actually honoring a single point of contact who is empowered and able to brief back into the business, keep all internal stakeholders under control and respond with knowledge and sales ability back to the Buyer. And all while keeping the internal P&L bun fights a secret....

If I had a Dollar for every time I'm told by a Buyer at a mid tier agency that they just get bumped around internally at a large Media Owner because no-one seems to take ownership, I'd have more than $12.......Of course Return on Time Invested is important for company staffing models but I get the feeling that there are many worthy Buyers who feel like Small Fish in Massive 1800 Lakes rather than a valued Customer of a quality Media.

Give a Niche Media Owner a call and see how much service you get.  Proposal + Fries + Latte, all hand delivered in under 3 hours I reckon!

As for preparing, Media Sales Specialists should make every provider of a sales opportunity feel like they're the only one on their plate. Make the Buyer relieved that "you're onto it" and they have no more to worry about until you come back with a solution. If you've been asked for advice outside of your area of expertise because "I knew you'd be able to help me" I think you'll be The Last Rep Standing in 2019 because the best Media Owners will have heard of you and recruited you and Buyers will follow you in droves.

*Earlier this year Michael Petersen also offered his insights on the State of the Media industry with a unique QLD perspective

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Dominic Elfer - Adopti

MediaScope Brains Trust - Dom ElferWith the fast pace of technology taking front and centre stage in regard to how digital media is bought and sold, sales specialists in the online space will need to keep up to date with the myriad of technological advances as they happen.

While the tech heads will create better products and solutions you can bet they will also create more acronyms and  geek speak to drown us all in. More and more so, there will be a need to cut through the fear inducing babble.  It will be the sales person’s job to create the “story” of how the technology improves results and what it’s intrinsic long term value is for advertiser’s. To do this they will need to be able to promote the facts with creative visible illustrations and simple but exciting analogies. In short, simplify and bring to life what is in the technology box.

As an industry the digital ad sales sector is not known for its high standards of service. With tighter margins and more competition in the tech space, sales people are going to have to up their game and offer higher levels of service and support post the sale.  Be it a self-service or managed product, passing the hot potato to the overworked operations or delivery teams is fine, so long as you prepared to sacrifice commissions to them. Remember if it doesn’t get delivered no one gets paid.

You may not always have the best product but this can become secondary if you back it up with premium service levels  to your advertisers and agencies. Making it easy to do business with you should always be your mantra.

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Barney Habel - SBS Adelaide

MediaScope Brains Trust - Barney HabelThe future  for media sales is exciting if you are prepared to embrace the raft of new sales opportunities. Technology won’t replace the sales person rather it will provide a more dynamic tool kit from which advertisers can only benefit. Historically media sales didn’t require a great depth of end consumer familiarity now the role will become as complex as each advertiser wishes with layers of data being available for planning and analysis.

To succeed the media sales person will require the same skill set as before in having the desire to be the best in market. There is no limit to the amount of learning  that can be taken in, however at the end of the day they will still need to get out and converse, take briefs and ensure the campaign delivers. No “one size fits all” so the more flexible the sales person the more successful they’ll be.

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If you'd like to share your views feel free to add your comments below or get in touch to be part of MediaScope's 'Brains Trust'.


Further Resources

  • Advertising Sales Centre - comprehensive resource for media owners and advertising sales specialists with articles, guides, profiles and practical tips
  • Training & Development - MediaScope links to a range of businesses offering training and development services for the media, advertising and publishing industry
  • What's Next for Media Sales? - as media trading becomes increasingly automated we offer an overview of the skills needed for the media sales person of the future.
  • Advertising Sales Tool Kit - an overview of various elements required by sales specialists as they are out in market dealing with advertisers


Other Pages of Interest