Integrated Proposals to the Max: An Interview with PennWell’s Paul Andrews


Media guru Paul Andrews shines the light on how best to maximize your clients’ digital media dollars.

The integrated proposal conundrum: From basic banners to strategic social media boosts, which ad units should be offered, when should they be offered, and what metrics should be used?  We interviewed publishing guru Paul Andrews on how to prepare a campaign proposal that will give clients the most bang for their buck. It’s all about the right-timing.

NMHQ: Tell us more about understanding customer buying cycles.  How can they be used to best maximize client dollars?


“My marketing consulting team conducts business in the industrial sector. We assist firms with their media planning efforts. In this sector there are numerous players in the purchasing process. While engineers are key to the process, there are other players like plant mangers and the CEO who are involved in the decision making process. As such, we tell our clients to segment their messaging in correlation to the different phases in the buying cycle: discovery, consideration, preference and purchase.

We recognize influencers and decision makers are at different points in the cycle at different times–“The Continuum” as I like to call it. This requires us to develop messaging targeting those players in each segment of the cycle. We advise our clients to utilize niche publishers’ array of ad vehicles. The vehicles will be selected based upon the objective of the campaign e.g., branding versus lead gen. For our clients that use market automation platforms, we will tie the campaign back to their landing pages to nurture those leads.

So, what exactly does this look like? For example, for the evaluation phase, based on title, we will create two versions of a white paper–one for C-level (discussing cost savings and liability issues) and one for the engineer (discussing technical specifications). The white paper will get routed based upon the information on the lead gen form. The campaign will utilize typical lead gen units like sponsored white papers and webcast registration to entice the download.”

NMHQ:  Advertisers routinely request integrated proposals. It can be overwhelming in terms of which ad units should be offered when, and what metrics to use. What are some good guidelines for niche publishers who are trying to increase their revenue through integrated packaging?


“I speak with ad reps on a daily basis. I can count on one hand how many ask me about the objectives of my client’s campaign. So let’s start there. Once defined, it would be good to see packages addressing different types of campaigns like branding, awareness, and/or lead gen. And yes, even though they will provide me with a package price, there is a good chance I may ask for a la carte pricing as well. For any campaign, I want the rep to educate me on which ad units work best in relation to my product and marketing objective. The units that work on one site may not work on another due to the make up of the audience and how they interact with ad units. I will ask for proof of performance, so be sure to make it available. If you are not going to share open rates, or size of database there is a good chance I am not going to make the buy. If you are selling flat fee as opposed to by CPM, I am still going to require you to tell me how many impressions we plan to receive.

Remember, the key here is that I am buying access to your audience, so please be familiar with it. Are they a fit for my product? Are they engaged? How do they interact with sponsored content? Tell me about the benefits of specifically working with your brand. And don’t under estimate post-sales support, including the value of a good report.

For example, now that you have convinced me that your audience is indeed a good fit for a branding campaign that is addressing a new product rollout, I am going to want a mix of print, online, social media and live events. The print element is going to educate the market that they have a need they didn’t know existed. The online element is being used to generate awareness in a targeted fashion; it will also assist in attribution and metrics. I will want to leverage your social media presence beyond my client’s presence. It may include mentions, shares or a product showcase branched off of your LinkedIn brand page. I am then going to drive that print and online audience to our booth or reception/hospitality suite at the next industry trade show for a face-to-face opportunity.”

NMHQ:  Do you see any trends coming in the next 2 years in digital metrics?


“There are two trends that I continually look at. We have a customer base in Europe, so I like to watch the effect of privacy legislation. I like to compare how that legislation is being implemented in relation to the trends we are seeing in the United States. One specific item we are seeing is the increased usage of ad blockers. The younger generation routinely uses them. And, now that it has become so easy to use those blockers, I expect the usage to proliferate. As a result, I think this is going to lead more and more marketers to want non-intrusive “promotion.” I think the result of the increased usage will be that content marketing will continue to grow even more.   

The other trend I like to watch, though not metric related, is behavioral economics. While it has been around for a bit, more and more firms are tracking users’ behaviors in the online world and are predicting when an individual is going to make a purchase based on that behavior. Many of you may have heard about the dad, who shared a home with his daughter, who starting receiving diaper coupons in the mail from Target…why? Because his daughter was buying folic acid online and Target assumed, correctly, that she was pregnant.   

In the b2b world, there are some technologists that are trying to do the same. By tracking everything from consumed content, to LinkedIn profiles, press releases, websites visited, activities on buyers guides etc. firms are tracking the behaviors of b2b professionals and based on those behaviors they are trying to predict where they are in the buying cycle and what products they are looking to purchase—long before the advertiser sales team gets that phone call.

How will you remain relevant when your advertisers have access to this kind of intelligence? My guess is that content will still be king and your helping advertisers with creating brand preference will certainly be key.”


Editor’s note: Paul will be leading the session, Digital Sales Debate at the Niche Digital Conference in Savannah this fall. Join us!


More about Paul: As Vice President of PennWell’s Marketing Solutions division, Paul Andrews oversees this in-house ad agency and consulting arm. His team provides creative execution, media planning, and marketing communication strategy and tactics for manufacturers and distributors.


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