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Media agencies differ in their planning and buying priorities

As part of our Collectif series (see more here), Media Ecologist’s Jack Myers explains what media agencies are looking for in their publisher partners. TL;DR: Media agencies now differ in their priorities, meaning that publishers must approach their sell side operations carefully, eschewing a ‘one size fits all’ approach…

Following up on a recent study identifying the twelve factors contributing to advertising media planning and buying decisions, we focus in this Myers Report on the differing priorities among seven leading media agencies. The Myers Report Survey of Agency & Brand Media Decision-Makers and Influencers provides insights for media sales organizations based on a survey of 4,200 agency and brand professionals.

When asked to identify the factors that are most influential and relevant in their planning and buying decision-making the factor among 12 options that was most consistently identified is “Delivers Large Audience Reach.” But when reviewed based on agency affiliation the differences in priorities among the other 11 factors are significant. (“Cost efficiency” has been a universal priority and was not included among the options.)

Respondents from one major holding company media agency elevated “Ability to Use First Party Data” as a primary buying criteria while another media agency’s respondents identified “Contextual Relevance of Content” to be their highest priority. The differences from agency-to-agency are reflected in the chart below. Included among the seven agencies represented are four major holding company media agencies and three leading independent media agencies.

This speaks to the increasing importance for media companies to review their B2B marketing budget and sales organization investments. A one-size-fits-all ad sales marketing and communication approach simply does not work. Because investments in programmatic technology and data continue to dominate the media sales landscape in response to widespread commoditization, other contributing factors have become inherently secondary, leading to budget reductions by sales organizations in potential growth strategies. This represents a missed opportunity for any media organization and category that is not institutionally structured or historically positioned to be competitive in a commoditized marketplace.

There is little industry-wide consensus around media planning and buying criteria. Compounding the differentiation of priorities from agency to agency is the analysis recently published by The Myers Report identifying the shifting decision-making power base within agencies. “Recent data reveals a startling imbalance: 80-90% of ad sales relationships and marketing budgets are targeted to less than 20% of advertising decision-makers. Unlike the traditional 80/20 rule, the 20% being reached is no longer key to your business growth. Moreover, with a significant proportion of media agency employees having less than 15 years of experience in the business, there’s a clear disconnect between traditional marketing strategies and the new generation of decision-makers.”

A modern media sales organization, to compete in today’s marketplace, is required to target every stakeholder group and even individual based on their own unique priorities. While “Quality of Sales Team and Personal Relationships” is identified as one of three most important criteria by an only 15% of respondents, positive performance in this category remains important. With lay-offs of more than 20,000 media sales professionals, reductions in sales marketing budgets by an estimated 35% compared to pre-Covid years, and increased investments in programmatic and data-led technology, investments in growth have declined in recent years. Yet, the value of relationships outpaces programmatic and data capabilities among local/regional media agencies and for the out-of-home and audio categories.  

The Myers Report will soon publish new insights based on different priorities based on media categories and in future surveys cost efficiency will be included to explore whether agencies and brands are shifting away from transactional commoditization as their dominant purpose and priority. Visit www.MyersReports for more details and contact for information on membership and subscriptions to The Myers Report.

Jack Myers
Founder, Media Ecologist


The above column by Jack Myers was originally published on

About: Through Jack Myer’s five decades of research and reporting on the role of media and advertising in culture and society, he has been recognized as the nation’s leading media ecologist and one of the most influential leaders in the history of the media and advertising business.

Jack advises advertising-supported media companies on advancing business growth through cultural change. He is the founder of the MediaVillage Education Foundation, and The Myers Report, all focused on bridging the generational gap through marketplace intelligence, education and professional development. He is founder and chairman of the marketing and advertising community’s Advancing Diversity Hall of Honors, which will induct 16 new members at its annual event in New York City on April 11, 2024. For additional information:

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