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When Selling Digital, Sales Reps Say Biggest Hurdle Is Growing Demand For Performance.

Local ad sellers face growing expectations to sell more digital inventory and demonstrate higher performance on campaigns, according to a new study from Frequence. The report, which surveyed 471 local-market ad sellers – 15% of which came from radio – finds that 72% said their organization expects them to deliver more results with fewer resources.

Two-thirds (65%) of respondents are under “moderate” to “extreme” pressure to grow digital ad revenue. That includes 59% of respondents who said their companies expect them to grow ad revenue by 20% or more over the next 12 months.

“Local media companies are hard pressed to make the most of this accelerating demand, and individual workers face high expectations from their clients as well,” says the report from Frequence, a developer of advertising sales automation and workflow software. When asked what creates the most stress when working with clients, 29% of sales reps cited the pressure to sell more third-party ad inventory. And one in five cited the stress of managing and adjusting campaigns in-flight, while the same number said they were stressed by figuring out how to create an omnichannel campaign with an optimal media mix.

“Despite the advances in technology across the digital advertising industry, 59% of respondents characterize their proposal-generation methods as manual,” the report says “Additionally, 51% of media sellers report spending an additional hour or more analyzing the data needed to demonstrate ROI to clients in their proposals.”

Even after spending the necessary time collecting data and creating a proposal, Frequence says three-quarters (78%) of media sellers report that they have lost a client because of an inability to adequately show campaign performance data, despite their own confidence that the campaign had been a success. It also says 69% of reps have grown frustrated with their attempt to convince a client to adopt omnichannel strategies. As a result, the report suggests that too many advertisers are missing out on the opportunity to leverage the most effective campaign strategies.

Frequence says the “future looks bright” for local market advertising even with those hurdles, pointing to Borrell Associates’ recent forecast that the local ad market will grow 4.4% in 2024 to $157.1 billion.

“Every day new advertisers enter the local market as barriers to entry fall and outcomes improve,” Frequence CEO Tom Cheli said. “Projections for future ad spend grow more optimistic by the day, and the excitement and growth have led to even greater expectations for performance.”

Turning To Technology For Help

The doing more with less reality of today’s media world means many companies are looking at technology for some help, especially artificial intelligence. Three in four reps surveyed by Frequence said their organizations already leverages some AI to automate parts of digital media management – with media buying and forecasting comprising the most-common function (53%) of those using AI. And 29% are using AI to create campaign proposals, while a quarter say AI helps them with analytics.

“The last few years have produced some of the biggest changes in the digital advertising landscape – from technology advancements to new features and challenges coming from the major platforms. The rapid pace of these evolutions and innovations have led to elevated demands on the talent pool,” the report says. It finds 70% of sales reps feel like they struggle to keep up with all of the new strategies and technologies changing their industry, which includes the rise of programmatic, streaming and attribution changes. As a result, 84% of respondents report experiencing stress in their job.

The survey found nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents reported losing out on a potential client’s business because of inadequate technology resources, and a majority (58%) said there have been instances where inefficient processes or workflows caused a client to drop them. To address the problem, 82% of respondents wish their organization provided them with more software to do their jobs.

“As the industry navigates this period of rapid change, one thing is clear: local-market media professionals need support to meet mounting challenges,” Cheli said. “Technological tools and greater automation can help immensely, and success awaits the companies that invest now to give their employees the tools and resources they need. Local-market advertising is a resilient, adaptive industry, and with the right strategies the future for media companies will remain bright.”

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