Picture this: Lauren (a fictional 20-something who loves the gym, running, and yoga) is standing at the bus stop waiting for her bus. Meanwhile, across town, Brand A, a top-of-the-line women's sporting goods line, is brainstorming about how to best target the Laurens of the world.
Media planning and buying is about reaching your target consumer with a relevant and consistent message at a time when they are most likely to pay attention to or interact with your brand. Such interactions could occur anywhere. Even though Lauren is online every day, she is also using her mobile phone, watching television, going to sporting events, and, in this case, standing at the bus stop, staring at a billboard.
To connect with Lauren in all the outlets with which she engages, Brand A turns to its agencies to help with its marketing strategy. Planners and buyers, however, usually specialize in one medium. Unfortunately, this results in agency departments working in disparate silos -- many of which may never communicate -- on plans for the same client. This often leads to rapid media fragmentation and limitations in cross-platform planning tools, research, execution, and reporting. In the end, despite sleepless nights on behalf of the planning execution teams, the opportunity to create a truly integrated, authentic communications plan -- and most effectively target Lauren -- is often lost.
While integrated planning and buying is not a new idea, a recent survey that Sportgenic conducted at an iMedia Brand Summit showed that marketers are still having a hard time successfully integrating their campaigns:
- Forty-one percent agree that coordinating marketing efforts across internal departments (brand, promotions, sports marketing, etc.) is often difficult at their companies.
- Thirty-nine percent of marketers find it tough to negotiate efficient cross-platform deals with publishers and media companies.
- Thirty-eight percent find it difficult to field campaigns across multiple media channels.
- Thirty-five percent find it tough to get their different agencies to collaborate.
To solve this problem, marketers need a solution that allows for the easy creation of an integrated communications plan. Reaching Lauren across all media requires the aggregation of these opportunities on one platform. This may be easier said than done, but we are at a point now where media and technology partners are uniquely positioned to develop software to bridge these communication gaps and facilitate cross-media communications planning. Marketers are used to the accountability that comes with digital advertising. They want to apply this ROI focus across all vehicles and are going to look to their partners to help them do this. Marketers who tap into or encourage their agencies to use appropriate solutions will find that planning across multiple media does not have to be difficult or overwhelming.
Vertical networks are a natural first to market for this type of integration because the premise of the vertical network, by definition, is the aggregation of media inventory and like audiences within a specific category. To date, this has been done most effectively with scale across one medium, such as online or television. But vertical networks have deep domain expertise and relationships with brands and media partners that extend well beyond TV or online.
Aggregating and selling multiple types of media, with scale, from one source is the logical next step in providing marketers and agencies a better solution to overcome cross-media confusion. Planning and buying from one source will ensure that marketers have a holistic view of how their dollars are being spent and where their target audience will be interacting with their brand. This last point is particularly important because it will enable their teams to tailor their messaging to fit the media vehicle, as well as eliminate redundancies in their media plans. From a reporting standpoint, being able to analyze and evaluate all media in one place will enable easier optimization and increased learning.
Fortunately, technology is enabling media partners to create solutions, and has pushed the onus of relevant creative and media targeting to publishers. As a result, media and technology partners, in collaboration with agencies and clients, are leading the way and providing better solutions for integrated media planning and buying. Fragmentation, consumer control, and time-shifting is being addressed, as evidenced in the emergence of digital exchanges, vertical networks, dynamic creative and ad-serving, and precise targeting (to name a few).
But what about genuine multi-platform integrated media solutions? The emergence of digital across media platforms offers media companies more opportunities to reach target audiences with a relevant message at the right time in the right environment. They create new opportunities and packages to connect brands to the audience targets they want to reach. If marketers and media buyers were able to access this menu of media opportunities on their own (with relevant insights), through an online platform, they could extend their strategic communications planning across disciplines and better collaborate on integrated ideas. After all, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts -- a premise that is even more true in media.
Holistic campaign visibility, measurement, optimization, and ROI would all be enhanced through a multi-platform integrated media solution. While medium-specific tools (cable, radio, online, digital out-of-home, etc.) add efficiency to the buying process, they don't solve the larger issue of streamlining both the inventory management of media properties or offering truly integrated marketing solutions for brands with clear, focused, and connected messaging designed to reinforce their brand promises.
This conversation has been going on for too long. It's time for action. It's time for Lauren to get her new yoga outfit. And it's time for marketers to get some sleep.