Why Big Media Can’t Compete

The era of BIG in media is not important, being NIMBLE is what’s important. The best performance in marketing comes from quick response to optimize, to change creative, to test, and to understand.

Big Media can’t compete in the digital space

Here are 4 reasons why Big Media can’t compete in digital advertising:


Cox, Scripps and others are considered media distribution companies. A media distribution company’s business model is when the commercial message passes through the advertising channel these companies produce. Generally TV, radio, and such. In the digital space, they are using other people’s products, Google, Facebook, and many more. 

Their business model is still as a distribution company. They serve your message through these channels and that is what you are paying them for, access and exposure. The problem is their model doesn’t allow for optimization which is the key ingredient when running your digital campaigns. Expertise, experience, and a tight feedback loop with the brand are what lead to ROI.

Have you ever run into the issue of wanting to make a change to your digital media campaign with Cox Scripps and Iheart? You chase down your media rep, they then have to chase down the traffic person or the market’s digital manager, and that person chases down the corporate digital buyer for changes to be made. There are way too many touches in that chain. With a more nimble digital agency, the brand has access to the digital manager directly and vice versa. If something starts behaving in a positive or negative fashion quick communication can happen and the optimizations will take place immediately.

The big difference that brands see with this model is that ideas and communications are coming from the agency at a higher rate. In the case of Big Media, they wait for the monthly meeting to go over what has happened through a rep who is not as high in digital acumen as the planner at corporate. P.S Each of those corporate steps come with a cost/commission added to your media budget. With an agile agency, you can simply send a text message and have all campaigns changed, creatives augmented or stopped in a matter of 2 minutes; at least that is our reality. 

Web of Inclusion Mindset

Author Sally Helgesen states that the “Web of inclusion” is used to describe integrated and organic organizations that become effective because management puts itself at the center rather than at the top.” At Big Media, there’s a hierarchy instead of the Web. It’s not their fault, it’s just the nature of the beast. In one instance the Big Media company has a policy in place that makes the brand in charge of delivering creative. They put this in place because they were exposed to reps selling campaigns around the country that weren’t approved. They had exposure to bad debt and implemented a policy that each creative needs to go through a contractual obligation to then be distributed through digital. Although it makes sense on paper, the problem is that it kills any ability to be nimble. It stops all A/B testing, keyword changes, and other basic optimizations. They are strictly delivering your advertising message through a channel. It’s a no-brainer which structure is more appealing to clients or at least it should be.

Digital Acumen

Another advantage of working with an agile agency is the digital acumen that each person in the firm possesses. When working for any large company, natural silos begin to emerge. The sales reps have their tool kit and sell a package, the OTT specialists know how to bid for OTT, but if you ask someone what someone in another department is working on it’s highly unlikely that they’ll have an answer.

By nature, a small, tight-knit team is able to achieve much greater transparency and therefore increased digital acumen about the details of a product or media tactic. Questions can be answered on the spot and it’s always great to speak to someone who knows what they are talking about. The typical, “ Well let me ask someone” answer, does not exist in an agile agency.

The agile agency is an agent for the optimization of campaigns. That is completely opposite to the Big Media company who is a “pass-through brand” to consumers with very little feedback. We have fundamentally different views than the large media corporations on where the future of marketing, media, and advertising is going. Our bet is that one will have a quicker turnaround time with a fraction of the cost.  

Big Media – Flawed Business model exposed

Let’s do the math here. If a company is making 80% profit before admin expense and rep commissions and such on Product A: TV, Radio, Outdoor, but only 30% on Product B: Google Facebook,  it’s obvious which product the sales reps will ultimately show bias toward. Well, guess what! That’s how large media companies work. An 80% profit margin on a radio buy is a lot higher than 30% on digital media and therefore it’s in the company’s best interest to sell the higher-margin revenue source. The unfortunate part is that the sales rep, although they may be good at heart, is simply a victim of this system. A traditional media sales rep, working for Big Media is only as good as what is in their toolbox to sell, and their toolbox is given to them.

Agile agencies are not caught up in the chain of bureaucracy and the availability to choose whichever tool they see fit is available. This allows for the latest knowledge, with the latest tactic and therefore assists clients to reach their goals with the most cutting-edge techniques on the market for best ROI. By the time these techniques have trickled down to a rep in Big Media, it’s already 9 months too late as the algorithm has probably already passed them by. In addition, there are graveyards filled with terrible digital products that top-level senior-level Big Media corporate types loved. They then made their company acquire them and then conversely the reps HAD to sell. The poor rep gets the pressure to justify this move and now they are on the streets selling a worthless tactic.

Did you know that Instagram had 13 employees when it sold to Facebook for 1 Billion dollars? That is an example of a small team being able to deliver big results and becoming one of the top media channels in the world. Supplanting TV, Radio, Outdoor and newspaper.