Launched in 2011, and targeted to the agency and advertiser community, the idea behind interactive website SellerCrowd came from one individual, Clay Gran, who was trying to sell advertising on behalf of a digital network.
“What we were attempting to do at my firm at the time was represent the premium properties on the Internet (like CNN, Fox News and New York Times) and bring them all together to have one outlet for selling inventory,” explained SellerCrowd’s founding partner. “When I met other sellers in the industry, we would exchange information about accounts we were all collectively calling on.”
“Sellers have a sense of camaraderie, even though they work for different outlets,” he added. “There is a brothers and sisters in arms type feeling despite the competitive nature. We all go through the pain of trying to get through to the buy side. And that was the genesis of SellerCrowd, where we could scale this online to a website.”
Flash to the present and Gran, coupled initially with a technical advisor and a designer, have built a community at SellerCrowd, invite only, where over 25,000 users (and over 6,500 companies) in digital can gather to ask questions and get answers from other users about the agencies and the people who make the buying decisions and control the purse strings.
A search feature at SellerCrowd, meanwhile, offers the availability for all of the information discussed on the site relative to a brand, an agency, an agency team or a person. And, now, in year eight, a spin-off platform titled Cohoot (named from the genesis of the word cahoot: alliance or partnership) offers the same features for television, radio, outdoor, print, and event sponsorships.
“People wanted both a way to anonymously ask, anonymously answer, and have an archive of answered questions from the past,” noted Gran. “Initially, we were almost exclusively targeted to a digital audience. Today, through Cohoot, we have expanded our reach to include these other key areas.”
“Our growth reflects the areas of expansion,” he added.
One current topic about original content, for example, heating up the conversation at Cohoot is the growing issue of the linear versus digital programming platforms. Asked one member of the community: “Is anyone concerned over the linear ratings slippage on the broadcast networks this season to-date? Should we shift more ad dollars to digital?”
Other recent discussions at Cohoot include a specific client at Kohls, a contact for Evan Williams Whiskey, sales contacts in OOH and TV channels, and the buying contacts for outlets like Bed, Bath and Beyond, Long John Silver’s and Hotels.com.
More specifically, questions from the Cohoot members include…
-Are you seeing the majority of money being spent from the large agencies coming in programmatically or through direct buys?
-What teams are handling programmatic versus direct OTT?
-Is it layered into an existing bigger opportunity?
-Are they doing one off direct buys?”
Also featured via SellerCrowd and Cohoot are email blasts to members targeted to the various channels and broken out with highlights in multiple parts. Included sections are Key Agency & Client Side Insights; Accounts & People on the Move; Sales Strategy; Can you help me out with these questions?; and Job Postings. There is also a new feature called SC Member Stories, with original editorial from individuals in the community discussing current issues. Kicking off that feature was the eternal question of who to call on – the agency or the brand?
Conversing Equals Learning at Cohoot
“What has been so valuable for the digital sales community was the anonymous question and answer format should be available to the rest of the industry,” explained Gran. “And Cohoot is our way of bringing the same type of functionality to the rest of the media world. By conversing you are learning, and by learning your are saving valuable time on your jobs in the process.”
“Theoretically, if you are a TV salesperson and you wanted to ask some of the people that work somewhere else what they think about the marketplace, or who they know in the marketplace, SellerCrowd and Cohoot is invaluable,” said one user who (like the core of the service) requested anonymity. “Even if you are face to face with them, you might not have the courage to ask them all these questions. They might not want to give up their seemingly proprietary information, but in an anonymous fashion you can let it go.”
“That’s the whole premise behind Cohoot,” he added. “A safe haven for exchanging ideas, gathering information, and learning about the latest happenings in the industry. I am there everyday now to see if there is anything new of importance. Who am I going to call? What product is there to hit? Stuff like that, and so much more.”
Robert Russo, President, RNR, Media Consulting, uses Cohoot to look for information about agencies. “Every once in awhile there is a tidbit of gold there,” he said. “I do a lot of conferences and, depending about what I am talking about – digital or linear, agency or branding – I will go there pretty regularly. While the initial expertise was in the digital end, I think these added channels can also be of great value. It all depends what my needs are at the moment.”
Aja Koenig, who is employed as an account executive targeted to sales and brand sponsorships, cites the immediate appeal of Cohoot as being more specific to connected TV and OTT. “Since this is a new media offering, and there is so much to learn, it’s just a great resource to ask questions,” she said. “We are all learning this together and I don’t think anyone has quite figured this all out yet. It is extremely helpful to bounce around different questions that come up, maybe in a client meeting or internally, or things like that. Engagement about what is going on in the marketplace is a great asset to have.”
One member of Cohoot recently asked, “Where/how can I get in front of your colleagues? Are there any popular blogs, newsletters, etc.?” The immediate answer, of course, is Cohoot. It stems from SellerCrowd, and over 1,500 members are now participating following its launch last June.
How to Join Cohoot
Cohoot is currently invite-only, but there are some pre-approvals reserved for salespeople working at various vendors. Visit cohoot.com to see if your work email will unlock one of the reserved invites. You can also sign up using your work email on the wait list, which could lead to an invite.
“When you first sign in you are basically required to ask one question,” explained Koenig. “Right now, I really use Cohoot to listen and learn. But as time progresses, and all this becomes clearer, I do imagine I will ask more questions. The discussions are endless and the value of using this is unlimited.”
For more information on Cohoot, click here
For more information on SellerCrowd, click here