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For a long, long time online media planning and buying agencies have (for the most part) recommended limiting the number of properties their clients advertise on.

It made sense, to them and their clients, because of the perceived benefits (e.g. discounts for bulk purchases, exclusivity terms, ease of delivery, simple ROI calculations etc.).

BUT they (wrongly) assumed that this "narrow buying" produced the best results. It doesn't. We know it (and have known for a long time, but who'd listen to little old DVisions), and maybe you do too. Certainly many in the affiliate community would back this up.

Enter Jupiter Media Metrix (JMM). JMM have found (admittedly to support sales of a new service) that:

"Media buys across fewer online networks are inefficient."

Read the details here.

I applaud the direction and limited findings of JMM's research, but the conclusions could go further.

If wider placement increases reach and frequency, then for response driven campaigns it should mean an increase in response too. Hardly a massive leap of imagination needed even for the most skeptical.

So media buyers will have to spread their buys more widely to give their clients a bigger bang for their buck?

Yes, according to our experience.

The ramifications are potentially huge if this knowledge is accepted.

For the agencies concerned this will mean a lot of research and aggregated fractional buys. Hard work. Also, they won't be pleased that smaller, niche sites produce the best response (in our experience). So they're not going to like this extra workload (nor the fact that most deals won't be worth lunch or have any career benefits) unless they can tack on a big fee (which would negate the economic advantage of the exercise).

What's more, many of the smaller sites aren't audited, don't have media packs and don't always offer opportunities in formats that agency buyers expect. (Read: flexibility and patience required).

So big advertiser Marketing/Finance Directors should be asking: "Would we get a better return if we spread our online ad budget across hundreds/thousands of sites?"

If the responding agency defends the status quo, or seems "shy" of the extra work, then maybe it's time to look around for a specialist with a more sympathetic ear.

This is not a new issue. Just look at how Amazon, Dell, Capital One and Office Depot (to name but a few forward-thinking companies) have used "wide buying" to devastating effect.

PS Thanks to Tig Tillinghust for getting my brain running in this direction.

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Robin "pay for performance not promises" Gurney is Director of D.Visions, Limited (