Media planning relies on two main approaches for shaping media strategy:
- Media habits approach: How does a marketer’s target consumer spend time with media and specifically, which media properties are “target rich” environments? For example, online publishers often use a media habits argument to explain why they should get a share of ad dollars that is closer to share of media time.
- Touchpoints influence approach: Services like Integration or Compose are centered on self-reported approaches to prioritize which brand communication touchpoints influence someone’s brand choice regarding a particular type of product/service or in conveying a certain brand benefit.
Let me add a third approach to the mix that comes from the field of shopper insights that would have a big impact on the allocation of media spending.
- “Path to purchase” approach: Understand the journey by which shoppers come to buy a particular brand, product, or service. Did they decide before or after entering the store? Did they do research as they started their shopping process? How did they research their purchase? What are the media touchpoints that best map to each leverage point in the path to purchase process?
Understanding “Path to Purchase” will change marketing and media priorities. In most cases, it is likely to increase the budget for search, comparison shopping, and particularly in-store shopper marketing vs. using a media habits approach because those places don’t have a big share of media time but they are where the “lean-forward” action is. Shopper insights research shows that, for many products, 50% or more of purchases and brand choices are decided on right in the store. For such products, to put it in terms that media planners can relate to, shopper marketing is like recency on steroids.
The touchpoints influence approach might miss the mapping of a touchpoint to a brand objective. Brand teams should have two broad classes of communication goals: creating and maintaining desired brand meaning, and reminding people of the brand as close to the decision point as possible (recency). If different touchpoints best map to specific marketing goals, the logical implication is that impressions and “reach points” across media platforms are not interchangeable or additive; this suggests that multi-platform reach calculations, a main purpose of media habits studies, become more of a media insight than a quantitative measure needed for creating a media plan.
A more important media calculation might be to create meaningful recency and “likelihood to see/hear” (LTS)factors for different media. For example, in comparing TV to shopper marketing, TV might have a higher LTS factor (20 or so commercials in a show vs. 40,000 SKUs in a grocery store) but a lower recency factor vs. advertising that is right at the point of purchase. Hypothetically, cinema advertising might have the highest LTS of all touchpoints (you’re sitting in the theatre waiting for the movie to start) but a really low recency factor. However, the recency factor itself might be less important when marketing’s main objective is “imparting brand meaning” (say during the launch of a brand).
To address these issues of how to begin integrating shopper marketing and off-premise advertising into a well-informed media strategy, on August 20th, the upcoming ARF Shopper Insights council will bring together gurus from their respective worlds who have not been on the same panel before to discuss this issue.
- Herb Sorensen – Ph.D., Global Scientific Director, Shopper Insights TNS-Sorensen Associates (legendary shopper guru)
- Erwin Ephron – Partner, The Ephron Consultancy (father of recency)
- Paul Donato – EVP, CRO, The Nielsen Company (media industry leader)
- Mike Hess – Director of Research, Carat Insight (branding, shopping, and media expert)
ARF members can register for this event at no charge by going to MyARF. For those who can’t make it, I’ll report back via this blog on what should be an amazing and long-overdue discussion.