Rage Against The Machine: When Media Gets Lazy

Photo of Adam Herman
Date: 2014-11-12 21:35:29 // Categories: Retail,
By: Adam Herman
Date: 2014-11-12 21:35:29 // Categories: Retail,

For retailers, media is a full-contact sport. Fast and furious, most media agencies simply aren’t wired for it.

Doesn’t retail move too fast and deal with too much direct and indirect omnichannel competitors to depend on bloated models or planning and buying by the numbers alone? Does a retailer who’s planning for next weekend against a suddenly aggressive competitor and a direct attack really need a media engine that’s thinking about May sweeps in December?

Think for a second about how the best retail agency on the planet would plan and buy media. Planning wise, like all media agencies, like all the big dogs, they’d be looking at the same data, and that data is critical indeed. Integrated media must be based on a proscriptive investment model. But media itself is space; media is time, and those are point blank commodities. In the same way financial planning is precision-based, supported through primary, syndicated and secondary research and strict data-based analysis – buying, specifically real-time buying, is about nailing the floor, even if it takes a metaphorical, if not strategically placed, elbow or body blow to get ‘er done.

It’s the speed of retail that dictates a different set of terms. Not just faster, retail is more intense, more last minute, and more responsive to changing offers. In this particular mosh pit, buying media takes an absurd level of agility and courage.

This is the way it works at Zimmerman. A model built over 30 years that is virtually impossible to replicate and defined first and foremost by some very tough hombres and a different kind of physical space. As you step out of the dogmatic world of planning, you cross a threshold to a live media buying trading floor that is at once fueled by fast twitch muscles, razor sharp instincts and the charge to purchase commodities at the lowest possible rates and by any means necessary. Distressed media, DR, barter, cross-costed, programmatic, upfront… whatever it is, whatever it takes, buy it fast, buy it right, buy it low.

So why don’t all agencies buy this way? Because it’s messy, complicated, too costly in both manpower and certainly effort. Bottom line, it requires a heavy dose of agility and fluidity and the readiness to put the clients best interests ahead of the agencies. And for most agencies, that just doesn’t compute.

At the end of the day, we live in a world where we are always connected, and frustrated when the microwave takes more than 60 seconds. Any bar bet can be settled by a Google search in an instant, and we can complete nearly any transaction of anything in just a few clicks. We live in a world of real time. Deal of the minute has replaced deal of the day. Want it, buy it, it’s yours. Because in another minute there is another deal ready to spring up.

And so it goes in retail. The math is simple… retail = real time.

Yes, there will always be some brands that need to lock in rates and inventory far in advance. And yes, technology, through programmatic buying, algometric, and computerized approaches will continue to be a proxy for most “real-time” buying models. But as with everything in retail, it all comes down to the people. And the buying team at Zimmerman looks at their desks and sees the Roman Coliseum. They see feast or be feasted upon. And so they extract a particular type of pride from buying media in a way that has never been done before.

This is retail media. Real time commodities snapped on a live trading floor to serve the most pressurized brands in America. We’re here for them. Pads on, espresso brewed, and as real as it gets.