A popular trend being discussed in marketing organizations today is cross-channel marketing. As marketers see the impact of one channel on others, there is a push to align marketing programs across channels to take advantage of these synergies. And the media planners are at the front line of implementing a more holistic and cross-channel marketing program.
Historically, media planners focused on one or two specific media channels -- print planners focused on newspapers and magazines, TV planners focused on TV, etc.
With the advent of communications planning 15 years ago, the media-specific silos began to loosen. They advocated for media planning to become media-agnostic by focusing on consumer touch points, rather than specific media channels.
Media planners are able to focus on reaching the desired target audience regardless of the channel or device. And cross-channel marketing is providing media planners with the best tools they've ever had to achieve their media and marketing goals by taking advantage of cross-channel synergies.
So what do today's media planners need to do to take full advantage of cross-channel marketing opportunities?
Break down the media channel-specific silos
If social media sharing of online videos increases when a marketer runs a TV campaign, the media planners handling TV, online video, and social media need to be working together.
The channel-specific silos, which began to loosen with the arrival of communications planning, need to come down once and for all. As we gain more experience with cross-channel marketing, we'll uncover new cross-marketing synergies. To support these marketing synergies in real-time, we'll need completely media-agnostic planners. This will mean that marketers will either need to consolidate all media planning at one agency or within one holding company. They'll need to establish a communications infrastructure that will enable planners across channels to communicate and collaborate directly with one another.
Before the rise of digital advertising, when planners scheduled campaigns across a limited number of channels or media, they relied on relatively simple frequency models. But now when marketers are running hundreds of creative executions across many online channels, the issue of frequency becomes more acute.
Media planners need to concern themselves with frequency capping. A consumer might see the same ad online across multiple ad networks or exchanges even if each platform has a frequency cap.
Similar to frequency, reach is being impacted by the growing number of channels and the overlapping results between them. The increased fragmentation of media channels, vehicles, platforms, etc., will require the development of new models for monitoring reach. This will enable media planners to understand which channel or vehicle combinations increases reach, versus the ones that merely cannibalize.
Breaking down the silos and enabling media planners to understand reach and frequency is at the forefront of cross-media planning initiatives. This includes all the major industry organizations that provide systems for media planning. Recent initiatives by Nielsen -- to create a more open and complete ecosystem of solutions addressing cross-platform and omni-channel marketing -- highlight the complexity of understanding how messaging is reaching consumers through the multitude of media vehicles they touch every day. More initiatives and collaboration are needed across industry standard holders in order to evolve and continuously adapt measurement standards to real life.
With a greater ability to target by location via mobile and location-based social and online targeting, location is joining reach and frequency as a third key metric for media planners.
Today we are able to effectively micro-target a media buy down to the ZIP code or even city block level. With the growing importance of shopper marketing -- the tactic where marketers will run campaigns targeting shoppers of a specific store branch -- media planners need to seriously consider location as a critical component of their brand communications planning.
Cross-channel marketing is providing media planners with tremendous opportunities and challenges. In order to take advantage of cross-channel media opportunities, media planning agencies need to work closely with their clients to restructure media planning collaboration. Smart planners need to jump into the deep end and start working more closely with their colleagues that are planning to use other channels. This will help jumpstart the next generation of communications planning.
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