Buying Capabilities

Bigwitch partners with Watauga Group - a fully integrated data-driven media agency comprised of more than 40 media planning and buying professionals, providing comprehensive media research, planning, and placement services across all media platforms. This includes both traditional, digital and social.  Being media agnostic and target audience driven allows us to leverage traditional and nontraditional media together to come up with the most cost efficient and effective plan based on the objectives. The Watauga Group was established in 2004 and has offices in Orlando (Main Office), Atlanta, Charleston and Birmingham. Though Watauga has experience across many industries, their specialties include Travel, Retail/Promotional Media, Direct Response, and Recruitment.

Watauga’s structure is unique in that they have 5 partners, each with a different specialty, and their top-heavy structure is based on day-to-day directors and supervisors with an average 15+ years’ experience.


Buying Power

  • $100,000 in research and buying tools allows Watauga to buy smarter and more efficient and thus pass these saving onto the client.
  • Proprietary data and syndicated tools include MRI, Scarborough and Media Audit.
  • A methodical approach to planning is paired with research - the process begins by clearly defining goals/KPIs with the client.

The broadcast and print approach drives customization which improves message retention, eliminates wasted reach, improves added value negotiations, and ensures stringent posting guidelines for all forms of media.

  • ComScore/Rentrak is utilized to evaluate TV consumption: 
    • Currently measuring 210 markets and has capacity to sample from 40 million television households.
    • Sample sizes are larger than those through Nielsen, because ComScore/Rentrak collects data from households subscribing to DISH Network, AT&T U-Verse and Charter services.
    • Household viewing is measured by set-top-box data and no demographic information is collected. Households don’t even realize they are being monitored.
    • Data is then projected to demographics based on Census population data. Rentrak also announced in 2016 a Total Home Panel.
    • The panel integrates linear TV viewing behavior with all other IP device-related behaviors in the home.
  • ComScore ratings data is evaluated using Media Ocean:
    • Media Ocean, founded as Donovan Data Systems in 1967 has evolved to become a traditional and digital media platform enabling us to manage and coordinate the entire advertising workflow, globally—from planning and buying, to analyzing and optimizing, to invoicing and payments.
    • It is an open platform connecting media suppliers, data providers, ad servers and third-party technologies.
    • Currently API implementation is underway to allow data exports directly into our analytics dashboarding system and integrate cross platform media reporting.
  • Broadcast Buying using ComScore
    • We use SQAD as a base to compare with the goal of delivering at or below point for low to average SQAD.
  • Custom Developed RFP’s
    • We negotiate each on a custom basis for added value to extend promotional opportunities with custom promotions designed to enhance the creative positioning.

Digital Buying Capabilities/Power

    • Approximately eight years ago, several Watauga Group clients expressed their frustration with the lack of access and transparency in the digital advertising marketplace and with the high monthly minimum advertising spends caused by the interference of third-party brokers to access digital inventory.
    • Realizing there had to be a better way, Watauga Group launched a dedicated team of digital media managers and buyers to:
      • Enhance training by creating digital buying/bid specialists.
      • Eliminate minimum ad spends.
      • Facilitate automated reporting.
      • Augment technical expertise needed to streamline the coordination of ad campaigns, analytics and optimization against KPIs.
      • Allow digital campaign to be optimized cross-channel rather than by vendor.
    • This team is led by Debra Marrano, who holds a Ph.D. in organizational communications and has over 30 years of media planning experience in traditional and internet media. Since 2002, she also has been an adjunct professor at the University of Phoenix, where she designs and teaches courses on related subjects.
  • The dedicated team members are specialists in bid management and optimization for paid search, programmatic buying and paid social.
  • What makes this unique is that all three of the "self-managed platforms" allow the team to optimize between the channels above, delivering quick results that translate to higher completed views, lower cost per click, more social interactions and stronger ROI.
  • The team also has enhanced back-end tracking capabilities, utilizing DoubleClick ad serving and reporting through Tableau or Tap Analytics custom dashboards with real time reporting. This ensures impression verification and more sophisticated ROI measurement when needed. DoubleVerify (DV) is also utilized for ad tracking to monitor viewability in campaigns, fraudulent ad placement and additional verification.
  • Today, Watauga digital specialists touch nearly every client account.
    • Watauga has more than 50+ active digital media clients.
    • Annual digital budgets range from $50,000 to over $1 million.

Channels Specialists

  • Paid Search – Google/Bing: 
    • Watauga Group received the Google All Star Award in 2014 (Awarded to the 200 top performing agencies from 15,000 to 20,000 agencies each year. This award was recently replaced with Google Premier designation).
    • Watauga Group received Google Premier Agency status in 2016. Google AdWords Premier Partners have: 1. Larger client bases 2. More experience 3. Demonstrated overall success with their strategies. This is the highest level of certification given by Google.
  • Programmatic Buying – Display, Video & Beyond:
    • Our agency also manages most digital media outside of Search & Social.
    • We utilize a DSP – Demand Side Platform – as our buying platform to purchase inventory in real-time for our clients, allowing us to bid on highly targeted media at the most efficient cost.
    • We utilize two DSP’s based on campaign objectives – Google’s DoubleClick Bid Manager (DBM) and The Trade Desk (TTD). These are known in the industry as being two of the best DSP’s a company can use to purchase digital media.
    • By managing the campaign from one platform, a more robust digital strategy can be implemented, allowing for frequency capping across all tactics, message sequencing, more sophisticated retargeting strategies and more. By using multiple vendors, you are only able to do this within each tactic, which limits the capabilities within your digital strategy.
  • Paid Social – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest & Snapchat:
    • 10 years of managing paid social campaigns.
    • Access to beta testing; Access to Reps (difficult to get; based on buying power).
    • Current team members going through Facebook’s new certification program, “Blueprint”, with expected completion date in September
      • Similar to Google testing – confirms your agency understands best practices for building campaigns and creating custom audiences.
  • Reporting:
    • Watauga Group has a reporting tool that allows direct and live report feeds from all online channels. Reports are customized to reflect the KPI’s that are of importance for the client, and each report is accompanied by a brief executive summary that covers the highlights and areas of interest. Watauga Group Dashboard Reporting provides an end-to-end marketing intelligence platform that integrates, standardizes, and visualizes all online campaign activities so they can be analyzed and refined within minutes.

Approach to Added Value   

    • We go beyond delivering bonus spots for clients – we seek out opportunity to create promotions and customized partnerships for clients that inspire and engage our brand’s audience.
    • We negotiate added value to extend promotional opportunities with custom promotions designed to enhance the creative positioning.
    • A valuation process is implemented to compare cross channel media apples to apples.
    • Sponsorship/Integration/Added Value Partnerships Process considers:
      • Established connection to media outlet.
      • Content integrations.
      • Location support.
      • Activation for an event/game.
      • Content that can be repurposed.
      • Defined formula using real CPMs and CPPs to assign values for exposure ranging from logo inclusion, live/talent, spot/space, press exposure, spot cost, national cable vignette or spot. Includes weighting for integrations or custom content.
  • Dollywood Theme Parks Example:
    • Watauga did all of Dollywood’s buying locally, when it was previously purchased through national reps, in order to work closely with stations on promotions and giveaways.
      • Rather than just asking for on-air ticket giveaways to receive mentions on-air, Watauga approached stations with direction around types of promotions we were seeking, ensuring they tied back to the emotional connection of the brand’s message.  As a result, larger contests were created with more on-air chatter and promotional spots.
      • Created a weighting value system plus determined actual value of promotion (not just rate card value given by stations) to ensure promotional value exceeded 3:1 minimum when compared to value of tickets Dollywood would need to provide for promos.  This lead to higher delivery in added value by stations and easily determines which promotions were not worth the cost of the tickets for the client.
    • For cable promotions added value, rather than working with each market individually on promotions, we worked with one of our largest cable providers across multiple markets to show overall spend and develop a cross market promotion delivering equal weight in bonus promo spots and taggables as compared to paid schedules.  Added Value was equal to the paid schedule, while also delivering a database to Dollywood of contest entries from the promotion.