The Biggest Red Flag from a Vendor

I receive a lot of pitches from companies and people collectively known as vendors.

Some are publishers, platforms, technology companies, apps, developers, websites, and other self-described genres. They're all vendors though because they're all selling something. They are also known as sellers.

I've seen two major red flags lately, one from a vendor on the rise (I think) and one from one on the decline. Both are hard to take seriously for a similar reason.

The company on the rise talks a lot about its various engagement numbers and the performance of its ads. I believe it. I'm impressed.

But the riser won't report on unique user numbers. Even internally, it's on a need-to-know basis. And those who know aren't allowed to tell.

To me, that sounds like it's hiding something. Why else would the company not share that information with advertisers?

The company on the decline recently sent me a presentation. It had some great case studies on its ad formats, and how well it has been received in the press. Yay!

There's one thing missing from the presentation: unique users. 

There aren't pageviews either. Or many numbers at all. 

Wait, I'm wrong. There are numbers. Page numbers.

So I did what any not-entirely-lazy buyer would do. I went on Quantcast. I saw a chart that looked like a rapid downward slope into oblivion.

I couldn't believe I was receiving a pitch from a company with a rapid downward slope into oblivion. So I went on Compete.

Same thing: rapid downward slope into oblivion. 

I wonder why the decliner isn't including numbers in the presentation. 

Wouldn't the decliner do so much better engendering trust if it said, "Look, you know and we know our numbers are pretty weak right now. But… " (Insert excuse here: "We've stopped the bleeding and now's a chance to join us as we make our comeback" or "All our traffic comes from our mobile app which doesn't show up on Quantcast or Compete" or "We're desperate and we'll give you a kegerator if you just get a brand to do something with us for free.")

Yes, that would do better.

They say you should show, not tell.

How about show, not hide.

Buyers aren't always that bright. Buyers make mistakes and irrational decisions. Buyers often choose going with their relationships rather than going with the best deals.

That's because buyers are human.

You know what else makes buyers human?

Buyers don't like it when others insult their intelligence.

Buyers will always have something else to buy.

Sellers won't always have something else to sell.