If only vintage Barbie dolls and discount computers on eBay come to mind when you hear the word "auction," you just might be missing out on some big savings on your advertising buy. That's because a new crop of auction sites specializing in all types of advertising space now offer local, regional and national media properties-without the commissions traditionally paid to advertising agencies.
Sites such as OneMediaPlace.com, MagazineRemnants.com and AdOutlet.com are springing up all over the Web. Many of these sites offer two major benefits to buyers: discounted prices and hard-to-find media opportunities, like well-placed billboards traditionally reserved for long-term advertisers. Specialized sites, such as MagazineRemnants.com, offer opportunities based on media type.
"Advertisers can purchase ad space from the companies we represent simply by [visiting our Web site]," says Jerry Machovina, president and CEO of OneMediaPlace.com.
But like any Web opportunity, there are some caveats. Advertising agencies usually offer a planning service as part of the media- buying process, ensuring the best combination of reach and frequency to your market-so do your own homework before you buy. In addition, because some of the space available is remnant space-space that was unsold by the media's closing date-lead times may be much shorter, so your ads must be prepared and ready to ship quickly. And finally, make sure you're getting a good value. Don't overpay just because you're caught up in "auction mania."
Gwen Moran is president of Moran Marketing Associations, a public relations and marketing communications agency in Ocean, New Jersey, and creator of BoostYourBiz.com, an online marketing resource center. E-mail her at email@example.com.