The top 20 uninspiring online media planning strategies of the year and how to do better next year.
Let's be real: the online advertising industry has been trying to grow its credibility for more than a decade now. If we don't take a hard look at our efforts, the needle isn't going to shift. It's my intention here to push media planners out of old school mentalities and into some more creative thinking. What better time to do so than when we're about to enter a new year?
2009's 20 Most Unoriginal Online Media Planning Strategies
Planning for an end-result without first really discussing how to best get there. Campaigns like these rely on ad messaging and creative to do the heavy lifting as opposed to thinking about incentives, events, or other enticements within the creative to attract interest. Digital media requires that the planner has a role in helping to craft the entire client strategy and not the other way around.
Developing media strategies based around data from planning tools that kick out the same top 50 to 100 sites or networks every time. Naturally, many of the highest-trafficked sites will attract your demographic. But are buys solely on these sites actually helping to drive a brand or category growth?
Going back to the same old sites merely because you've already established relationships there -- this might be easier for you, but can also lead to stale campaigns, not to mention reduced effectiveness in negotiating best rates.
Relying strictly on old results to dictate new planning -- digital advertising changes so rapidly that expectations for outcomes need to change just as fast. Nothing should ever be "business as usual."
Using the same tired, cookie-cutter media plan; assuming that what works for one kind of client will work for another, instead of customizing it per client and per client objectives, as those also change over time.
Relying on demographic profiling instead of the many other unique forms of online targeting (behavioral, contextual, psychographic, social, shopping, retargeting, and more).
Building campaigns inappropriately using unique forms of targeting that you don't understand the viability of, just so you can appear "with it" to your clients who are also hung up on buzz words du jour.
When planning for geotargeting -- putting too much weight on local sites or a single ad network instead of looking at all multiple options for going local.
Buying vast quantities of impressions and expecting that to deliver or equate to brand growth. Banner burn out anyone?
Anchoring campaigns on impressions and click-through rates alone. Not only are there other measurements available, but this kind of strategy makes the Internet work in a silo as compared to your other media. How are you drawing more holistic conclusions?
Not venturing beyond CPM-based (define) buys because you're unfamiliar with, afraid of, or too lazy to seek out other pricing models to add to the mix.
Ignoring multiple online touch points and multiple channels (e.g., not moving beyond the banner and ordinary display advertising).
Not admitting that media and non-media lines are blurring together, and that media strategies now need to take into account such "non-media" things as search, social media, e-mail, video, mobile, analytics, and more.
Avoiding Web 2.0 strategies altogether. Don't think "it's someone else's job;" because it affects us all.
Thinking of media efforts as "one-offs" with no attention to what could increase lasting inbound marketing inquiries or how to build databases for remarketing purposes.
Not taking into account that the media plan can and should be fluid; changing according to real-time results and therefore building in room for such flexibility. Oftentimes, media strategies are also built on an annual basis and allowed to run their course instead of building in short-term review and adjustment benchmark dates.
Trying to buy in too many places with not enough budget. This spreads the campaign too thin and is ultimately ineffectual.
Relying on too few types of placements, which leave you little room for optimization if those that you planned for don't perform.
Being lax in investigating and exploiting beta opportunities or asking media reps what's new in their offerings.
Not allocating room in the plan to test new placements or buys. If you don't test, how are you to learn a yet-to-be-discovered great property? Also, you should plan for all new buys to be negotiated as if they were tests and secure out clauses. So if they don't perform, you have a way to minimize your loss and shift dollars elsewhere.
So, what's the most innovative thing you've built into your latest media plans? Do tell!
A ClickZ expert columnist since 2005, Hollis Thomases (@hollisthomases) is president and founder of Maryland-based WebAdvantage.net, an online marketing company that provides results-centric, strategic Internet marketing services, including online media planning, SEO, PPC campaign management, social media marketing, and Internet consulting. Author of Twitter Marketing: An Hour a Day and an award-winning entrepreneur, Hollis is the Maryland 2007 SBA Small Business Person of the Year. Hollis speaks extensively on online marketing, having presented for ClickZ, the American Marketing Association, SES, The Newsletter and Electronic Publishers Association, The Kelsey Group, and the Vocus Worldwide User Forum. WebAdvantage.net's client list has included Nokia USA, Nature Made Vitamins, Johns Hopkins University, ENDO Pharmaceuticals, K'NEX Construction Toys, and Visit Baltimore. The agency was recognized as a "Small Giant" by the Greater Baltimore Tech Council and was chosen as a "Best Place for Business Women to Work" by "Smart Woman Magazine."