When Data Packs a Punch

How today’s media companies are using advertising spend data to drive new business

By Michael Mendoza

Data is everywhere – at home, at work and in practically every facet of life. The huge influx of big data available to today’s publishers has created enormous opportunities, but it has also created challenges. With so much data coming in, it is difficult to identify what matters and what doesn’t. While every publisher recognizes the importance of audience data, what about harnessing data on your advertisers’ buying behavior?


While advertising spend data alone cannot drive new business, it can unlock key insights that help your sales team uncover opportunities you might otherwise be missing. As the competition to capture a limited supply of advertising spend continues to heat up, I’d like to share what I’ve learned about harnessing the power of advertising spend data from some of the world’s leading publishers.

1. The silos must come down

When a large publisher in the U.S. sought to revamp the lead generation strategy of its advertising department, it loaded three years of historical booking information for each of its advertisers across all of its publications into a centralized sales system. Consolidating this data into a single repository enabled the publisher to analyze booking information from hundreds of publications – each of which was historically operating and interfacing independently with customers. As I shared in my recent blog on How To Kick-start a Winning CRM Strategy, the consolidated view of bookings and sales performance provided the publisher’s analytics team with new insights into their business and the ability to run lead generation queries such as:

  • Show me all advertisers that spent >$10k in 2017 but only in 1 regional title
  • Show me all advertisers that are spending >$10k in 3 or more print publications, but not spending any money in digital
  • Show me all advertisers that spent >$30k in the largest daily, but have not spent any money in a regional title

Lead generation concepts like these, and hundreds more, proved to be immediately impactful for this media company because we created immediate leads in the CRM system for their sales team to chase. Additionally, sales management was able to monitor which sales reps followed up on the leads, and how effective they were at closing the deals. Not only is this media company now able to act in real time on the business intelligence they are gleaning from their data, they also achieved a 4% increase in digital ad revenue last year as a direct result of this strategy.

2. Third party data + your data = a happy marriage

In today’s media industry, trends move fast. There’s new competition and innovation within existing competitors every single day. To stay ahead, you need to connect with your advertisers in a whole new way. Our savviest customers are importing Nielson, TNS and other third-party advertising spend data into their media sales solutions and using this data to analyze how much their advertisers are spending with them versus their competitors providing valuable insights into what their customers are spending on advertising, just not with them. With the influx of this third-party data, these organizations can:

Analyze what percent they are selling against in each market segment.

  • In any segments where they find they are performing more than 5% behind their competitors, they then generate leads for all their sales reps with advertisers in those segments in order to chase (and close) the sales gap.

See all advertisers that spent > 10 percent with their top 3 competitors in the last 3 months.

  • In any accounts where they are underperforming by this margin, a lead is generated for the sales rep assigned to the account.
  • Use ad performance studies to show that your titles reach a better audience with better response rates than your competitors

A holistic view of what, where, and when their customers are spending is delivering huge wins for many customers. A great example of this can be found in a leading Danish publisher who implemented a system that brought in third-party competitor data on advertising spend on a daily basis. Every morning this publisher’s sales team would start their day by reviewing every ad campaign that started the day before. If they were not involved, they would contact the advertiser and try to steal the advertising budget from the remaining campaign. They achieved a 20% win rate with this strategy. To simplify this process, the Danish publisher leveraged its advertising sales system to group all of the previous day’s ad campaigns into three groups:

  1. spending only with them
  2. spending partly with them, and
  3. not spending with them at all.

For all of the campaigns they were not involved in, their sales system would generate a lead and their 3-person sales team would work to get involved in the campaign. They knew they had nothing to lose as this is revenue they would have missed out on completely without the insights provided by third-party data.
We also worked with third-party data at a Swedish newspaper publisher who started a jobs website and wanted to gain a competitive sales edge. To generate sales leads, their IT group created a tool that grabbed data from the top 3 job websites in Sweden – their biggest competitors. Anytime a job was posted on their top competitor’s websites they would call the person advertising and get them to advertise their jobs with them. This simple sales tactic delivered a 30% conversion rate!

3. A company that isn’t selling is dying

It may sound melodramatic, but it’s true that the size of the “ad pie” continues to shrink. Tomorrow’s leaders will be those who succeed in sales today. The publisher of one of Britain’s most popular newspapers understands this, and uses the power of advertising spend data to keep its sales force engaged. The organization collects and analyzes sales data in real time to keep sales representatives aware of:

  • Customers that are increasing spend and/or diversifying across titles and channels
  • Customers that need attention due to lowered spend
  • Customers bouncing up and down in annual spend
  • Their overall sales performance against their target

All this information is available on a performance dashboard within the organization’s CRM, which pulls data in real time from the company’s centralized sales system.

In summary

Just a few years ago, a media company CIO who said that advertising spend data was media’s future would have raised eyebrows. But the landscape has changed at a rapid pace, and today advertising spend data is proving to be the key to unlocking insights that inform your sales strategy and fuel new revenue generation.

A healthy media business now hinges on the organization’s ability to turn advertising spend data into actionable information and rapidly react to this information in order to make more informed business decisions.



Lineup Systems is the world’s leading provider of advertising sales technology.





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