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As I think about “rock my world” changes going on in marketing and media, they fall into three broad themes: changing our approach to media planning; changing our thinking about building brands and understanding the changing consumer and world we live in. This blog is about the first big bucket, changing our approach to media planning.

1. Media clouds

Increasingly, the same media brand can be experienced on multiple platforms, in ways that fit with the strengths of each type. For example, MTV’s The Hills is not just a scheduled TV program; it has an immersive web environment with on-demand episodes, social media, ringtones, blogs, and more. The New York Times doesn’t just put print content online; it offers sophisticated interactive graphics on its website and articles encourage user comments.

I think of this as a type of digital cloud … a media cloud. Consumers can “grab” content from the cloud – in traditional forms, in non-linear snippets, on a mobile, on demand, at home or in a store while shopping. Your friends now come with you on every shopping trip if you have a smart phone; the possibilities are endless. Media companies are building their content for multiple platforms.

Advertisers need to consider if it is better to buy different programs in a given medium or to forge tight co-branded, integrated trans-media packages.

2. Integrating bought, owned, and earned media

Media exposure is no longer a linear, brand-controlled transaction – media can now be thought of as bought, owned or earned. They each can serve different purposes in the brand building process so you need to sharpen your objectives and map them to touchpoints. Bought advertising is costly, yet it works and it delivers the reach that many marketers need. Earned media can be defined as consumer-to-consumer brand sharing (comments or assets); it’s pretty much free and influential but you can’t control self-perpetuating sharing. If you don’t catch lightening in a bottle, consumer sharing of messages or applications results in low reach so it might not be the best center of gravity for a media strategy for a broad penetration marketing need. Owned media is about media synergy. People probably first discover your website by either bought advertising, search, or already being a customer. Bought and earned media also drive search so there are indirect as well as direct effects on the business. The ARF 360 media and marketing council is hoping to help the ecosystem crack the code on how this all fits together.

3. The yin and yang of technology

Addressable advertising technology provides the ability to deliver messages that are highly personalized and contextualized. But for every action there is a reaction; while some welcome relevant advertising, others find such personalization creepy and intrusive, motivating legislative inquiry into privacy issues. Every marketer, media company, and ad serving company will need effective privacy leadership. Marketers must prepare for a mixed targeting model that combines addressability for those who opt-in with a better choice of media properties where no addressability is required.

Media technology has also given us DVRs and video on demand potentially allow people to skip ads. In response media companies disable fast-forward for ads in on-demand viewing, create program/product integration and add coordinated interactive content.

Yin and yang; for every marketing action there is a reaction and then a reaction to that.

Media Planning: The Bottom Line

Media planning typically kicks in downsteam of the new offer development. Then media planners often start by reverse engineering the media strategies of benchmark brands. Advertisers need to rethink this media planning process. Media strategy development should start much earlier … right when the opportunity is first being sized, the target is being determined, and the way that consumers seek and share information about the purchase is understood. In fact, the media strategy might be the source of the innovation (e.g. Dove Campaign for Real Beauty) and the best way to choose among different concepts. Integrating media and offer into a quest for something new, different, and incremental means the advertiser needs to “run the media strategy meetings”.

Media strategy principles in a 360 world should take priority over the analysis of benchmark brands. The benchmark approach locks you into a recursive trap so you are probably observing strategies that reflect a 5-7 year old media environment (those brands probably used benchmarking too). Instead, the media strategy team needs to answer questions such as:

  • How big is the opportunity? (To inform the need for broad reach)
  • On which media properties and social media sites do my target consumers tend to congregate?
  • How do people seek and share information about what you offer and the needs you address? Which media touchpoints are most influential for this type of product or service along the path to purchase? In fact, don’t rule out the possibility that shopper marketing (either in-store or via mobile devices) could be the cornerstone of the brand-building strategy.

We are living in the new normal so think different. Marketers need to fully integrate offer development, listening and consumer input, quantitative research, and media strategy right at the fuzzy front end.

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