Media’s make or break season is here

It’s Q4 and we’re making it alright

Hi, everyone! There’s something in the air right now. Maybe it’s the general dystopia that makes us want to rally around modern folk heroes? Or maybe I’ve just been spending too much time on Twitter. But either way, it’s been a huge week for taking back what’s rightfully yours.

  • Javelinas destroying golf courses to reclaim their habitats? Golf sucks anyway.

  • Taylor Swift dropping her version of what’s indisputably her best album tomorrow? I’m With Her.™

  • Britney Spears taking back the story and telling the world how it really is? I’m listening, I’m learning, I’m nominating Michelle Williams for a new Oscar category in audiobook narration.

Inspired by nature & women everyday. ♥️

—Kinsey, cofounder and head of editorial

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

The Smooth rev squad giving their best Plastics

Because there’s no place like Smooth’s #advertising Slack channel for the holidays. 🎄⭐

Every year, media sales teams around the world participate in a time-honored tradition as the days draw shorter and the weather chills: the busy season. Q4 is traditionally what we in the biz might call “go time” for heavily advertising-supported operations like ours.

So today, we’re getting the rundown from our Head of Partnerships Colin Richardson—now in his 10th 👴 Q4 as a seller—about why Q4 is is such a pivotal time in the sales calendar, how creators should navigate EOY conversations, and what makes this year’s Q4 a special one.

Why is Q4 such a big deal in advertising?

There are three key reasons:

  1. Budgets. This is the time of the year when buyers are planning their budgets for the year to come—which means getting clear on their strategies and goals. Smooth prioritizes long-term tie-ins with brands, which makes it important for us to be a partner throughout this season as ideas are set into motion for the months ahead.

  2. Grind time. Summer is over and everyone is, for lack of a better word, grinding. It’s a real blinders-on time to focus and get things done, no matter your industry.

  3. Seasonality. For consumer brands, the holidays are of course massive. That seasonality trickles into the B2B marketing world as well.

What are some lessons the team has learned in Q4s past?

1) This season is a culmination of effort and planning put in throughout the entire calendar year and 2) there will always be surprises.

But the biggest learning: This time of year is about more than just selling a partner on their next campaign, video, or activation. It’s about aligning with their full annual strategic plan from both a marketing and broader business perspective.

It’s about more than just cinching a deal before we take holiday break—in Q4 more than any other time of the year, we come to the table with thoughtful, multichannel campaign concepts that are unique to the brand and directly level up to its bigger goals.

What advice would you give to creators navigating this time of year?

We have a few ideas here.

  1. Read the fine print. Exercise caution when reviewing contracts for long-term deals—be aware of term length, exclusivity, usage rights, ownership, etc. You’d rather take the extra time to review those terms than rush the process and regret it later. These kinds of months-long deals are big commitments for brands…but also for creators! Don’t lock yourself into something with a brand or team you’ve never worked with, and prioritize trust and authenticity.

  2. Know your 2024 outlook. Go into Q4 conversations with a clear idea of your own plans for the year ahead. What’s the theme of your year? What do you want to do more or less of? Having those answers is good for your planning and longevity as a creator, but it also helps you to storytell to brands—which goes a long way.

  3. Don’t forget about the now. Remember that active Q4 deals can turn into bigger 2024 conversations. Execute well for existing deals and you can capitalize on that momentum—timing matters!

What would you say is the *theme* of this Q4 for Smooth?

We talk to B2B marketers all day and this is by far the biggest theme we’ve recognized: Brands of all shapes and sizes, but especially legacy brands, are in the thick of rebuilding their messaging and perception.

The latter half of the 2010s were ruled by tactical KPI-oriented strategies—paid media efforts were incredibly efficient and dominated the marketing world.

But now, we’re coming into 2024 and the tides have shifted. The most innovative brands and marketers are thinking more deeply about brand perception—engaging creators, rethinking distribution, and building unexpected and unique partnerships that culminate into 360-degree, multichannel campaigns that carry real weight with their customers. They’re not just about reach or clicks—but about the true relationship the end user has with the content.

And that fires us UP. We’re excited to be part of this paradigm shift in both branding and marketing, and our creators are, too.

Want to talk to our partnerships team about the fourth quarter and beyond? Email Colin here :)

  • “Non-partisan” media startup The Messenger launched in May and promised $100 million in revenue within its first year…and it is now out of money.

  • Americans’ trust in media has fallen to a historic low. Cool cool cool.

  • New YouTube features are making it easier for audiences to shop products that creators mention in their content.

  • An update on the media publications that have either walked back their negligent coverage of the Gaza hospital explosion…or said nothing at all.

#digibuzzcodevoxious is a term we coined back in our Morning Brew days—a portmanteau of Digiday, BuzzFeed, Recode, Vox, and Axios. Obviously, the year was 2018 and the interest rates were zero. But still, the sentiment of “interesting media trends and news” remains. So the name stays.

Smooth: *gets targeted by our first phishing scam*

Josh: *says this*

Thanks for reading! Our very own Josh was on a creator economy panel during New York Tech Week—here’s a great write-up of the biggest learnings. We’re very proud!

See you next week! ✌️