Planning Paid Media Beyond an Impression or Click

Many times in the media world, a brief is passed along with an objective, budget, and other planning parameters identifying boundaries. Sometimes, we are fortunate enough to have realistic timelines, but all too often, timelines are tight and proposals need to be turned around within a few days. The need to plan and activate quickly often prevents the ability to ideate beyond the current plan itself. Especially in smaller agencies where everyone wears multiple hats and bandwidth runs thin, the responsibility of innovating and expanding beyond the plan relies on the same people who are planning within the tight timelines.

Inversely, I often hear colleagues and counterparts questioning the importance of paid advertising – and emphasizing the importance of creating something beyond a banner – something meaningful and relevant to consumers. I wholeheartedly understand and recognize real consumer awareness and the instances in which it’s created for next to nothing (think: Tourism Queensland “Best Job in the World” PR campaign), but let’s face it: the big worldwide notable brands have huge advertising budgets – Apple, Nike, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, GE, etc. They continue to innovate and create initiatives that provide consumers value from technology to food and beverage; however, they also use their advertising budgets to create awareness around these new products.

At the end of the day, it’s important to take a step back within both worlds and remember that the media campaign is part of a larger effort outside of the media, and is an opportunity for the brand to create something larger and more impactful by leveraging it beyond the buy itself. It in and of itself is not the answer, but part of the puzzle. From a $200,000 to $2 million budget, there is always the ability to recognize opportunities to leverage campaigns beyond the paid media buy itself. At times, it is easier than it looks. Below are some opportunities to get the juices flowing:

  • Make some noise. Leverage creative that has the ability to stand out from the masses (think: Burger King’s long-ago “Subservient Chicken” or creating renaissance for the King). If you create something substantial, unique, funny, clever, impactful, intriguing, different, or even bizarre, it has the ability to create more value in the earned media than paid alone.
  • Leverage viral capabilities. Social media has become a way of life for the masses. From actively posting or reading Facebook status updates to reading user reviews prior to a large purchase, for many, it has become as much of their daily lives for communicating, entertainment, work, or research. Through paid media, we have the ability to leverage opportunities to share content and even purchase media with this end goal in mind. Paying for “likes” or “shares” creates an opportunity of a stream of consumers who have an active interest in your brand. To leverage this beyond the initial action is just plain sloppy; be sure to have an action plan in place before the campaign launches to turn this somewhat passive interest into active engagers.
  • Provide something of value for consumers. Media can be purchased with engagement. While this is extremely helpful in performance metrics, it is necessary to create a memorable engagement, and that means understanding your target audience and identifying a perceived value. From CityVille credits to coupons to newsworthy RSS feeds, there are always ways to integrate something that consumers perceive as valuable; it’s just making sure you know who your target is and what value means to them.
  • Integrate with content. When it comes to brands, a large part of their offering or value proposition is their owned media. Make sure you are familiar with what they have and what can be leveraged. For GE, it continues to showcase research and innovation done internally. For Toyota, it leverages consumers’ stories to create content.
  • Use insights for planning. Last but not least, be sure when running a media campaign to recognize opportunities to leverage the paid media to internally learn more about your target audience and shifts in consumer behavior or preference.

In all briefs, we have clients’ objectives and KPIs; however, I would challenge everyone to look at what happens after the media runs. What will there be? Hopefully a big footprint left of where the brand made its mark, but unfortunately, that doesn’t happen overnight – it, too, takes planning.

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