Are You Prepared for the Digital Media Planning (R)evolution?

It’s true, media planning has changed – but not in the way everyone is talking about. Certainly, there is enough commentary and research out there on programmatic to make anyone think that 100% of all media budgets will soon be managed by machines. But the fact is, while programmatic is important and growing, it is hardly the majority of spend. And, frankly, it is the least interesting part of a media plan. Efficient? Yes. Inspired? Well…

I contend that there is another growing trend that, while not as frequently discussed as programmatic, actually has far greater impact on media planners’ and buyers’ day-to-day jobs: real-time advertising. Not real-time bidding. What I’m talking about is proactively identifying what audiences are talking about at this very moment, and then immediately targeting advertising against those interests. Making this real requires taking a close look at the evolution of digital media planning and buying.

Building the science around display planning started years ago as an extension of traditional media. At the time, display employed concrete audience parameters and static placements, but since then, display advertising has expanded to include the purchase of data- and geo-defined audiences. It has also introduced tracking and other compelling work to determine ad attribution.

In parallel, Search planning and buying matured along its own path, bringing new techniques to bear: auction-based bidding, dynamic placements, CPC pricing models and keyword optimization. Where the planner/buyer had traditionally sent out an IO and then selected media based on static cost for display, Search created buying parameters that fluctuate constantly. It also generated a number of best practices to better target consumers based on keywords.

Now, we have seen social advertising grow in prominence. And, following in the same footsteps as display and Search, planning and buying evolve once again to account for this new environment. Planners must now account for audience interests, engage in immediate consumer interactions and develop increasingly dynamic and relevant creative. The data we use as planners is no longer limited to past behaviors or static profiles – it represents the immediate interests and conversations of a given audience.

Now, history lessons are always fun, but this one also holds a valuable lesson: these three techniques have evolved to the point where they have converged. The most innovative techniques (yes, programmatic included) now take advantage of the unique attributes across each of these three disciplines. Today’s most innovative media solutions recognize audience interests in the moment (like social), employ a broad array of terms against which media planners can target and optimize media (like search), and yet, still deliver meaningful brand experiences across multiple channels and platforms (like today’s display buys).

The point? Today’s most effective media planners/buyers can no longer be specialists. They must embrace and unite the techniques that span display, search and social. But doing so successfully means they must have the tools, data and resources to operate in real-time. Put another way, they need to be able to perform five key functions:

  • Real-time discovery of what their audiences care about right now (not six months ago)
  • Real-time generation of media targeting terms to align media with current audience interests (and not just the usual contextual stuff)
  • Real-time, 24/7 optimization of those targeting terms to squeeze out every bit of performance (you can’t just set it and forget it)
  • Real-time assignment of creative in order to maximize relevance (instead of just rotating the same set of creative, regardless of context)
  • Real-time insights that deliver NEW information about your audience and advertising every day (rather than relying on the same old performance reports)

Media planning and buying are changing, and its forcing us to improve and expand our skills. Yes, programmatic systems are growing and taking over some of the media spend. But it is only some of the spend. It is on digital media professionals to make the portion of spend we manage outside of programmatic more innovative, relevant and insightful than ever before.

To do that, we need to recognize that our industry is going through an evolution, and as media planners, our role in this process is to be as prepared as possible. The most forward-thinking agencies out there know that this will require more training, perhaps even bringing in experts to help teams start to think about real-time media and its accompanying technologies and techniques. By exploring how to generate new insights, with exposure to real-world examples, next-generation media agencies can begin testing these ideas and bringing them to their clients.

If they don’t, then there truly is little to stop all media planning from being managed by a powerful and efficient, albeit uninspiring, programmatic system.

New audience behavior, new technology, new client expectations and programmatic encroachment into areas that used to be managed by people. These are very real challenges. Are you equipped to take on this digital media planning revolution?

By: Adam Kapel | Taykey SVP of Marketing Insights
Read the full article.