What Makes a Great Media Plan?

Great media plans involve a combination of  strategy, creativity, and data support. First, the plan must deliver  a great brand experience. Then, it must be targeted contextually, and last, but most important, it must deliver against the brand’s objectives, which means those objectives should be clearly stated and presented to the media planner.

To deliver a great brand experience, we rely heavily on creative, which is lately overlooked in favor of data. Contemporary creative must  keep some core principles while trying to be brave,  not accepting what has happened in the past,  and being willing to try something new. A campaign that will engage a busy mobile consumer must have some flair and some newness — but not just for novelty’s sake. The consumer has to be able to recognize that this creative supports her actual desire for information about a product or service.

Then the ads must be delivered contextually, which means looking not only at the audience, but at the devices they use, where they are, and at what time of day they’re using which device. From that data, a brand can get an idea of who the customer really is and how a particular customer can best be targeted. A good media planner pieces all these elements together into a consumer ecosystem before she executes a buy. The same consumer is reachable in different ways at different times of the day.

The contextual delivery of ads is the weak link in the media plan. In most cases, the data is out there to do it, but an aggregated or integrated look at a single customer is difficult to obtain — especially since customers are not trying to be found. This aspect is the next generation of digital advertising, and Facebook’s announcement of its new ad platform, forgoing cookies for Facebook user information, gives that site the momentary upper hand. Google, you’d better believe it, cannot be far behind.

Unfortunately, especially in the programmatic environment, most planners don’t think through their plans thoroughly enough, which  results in insufficient use of mobile devices, interruption of consumers during awkward times (SMS messages that arrive during meetings), and disregard for the most popular hours for surfing the web in the office. These cross channel targeting issues may seem trivial, but they result in hundreds of thousands of wasted dollars and campaigns that don’t deliver.

Although it seems as though programmatic straightened out some workflow problems for planners, the proliferation of consumer information has created others. We’re still looking forward to that perfect media plan.