Wash, Rinse, and Repeat – No Two Media Plans Should Be the Same

Recently I met with a colleague who mentioned that a freelancer she was using for her display media needs was using the same media plan regardless of the client objective, goals, category, etc. I couldn’t help but cringe. In a time where there are so many options for paid media, no two media plans should ever be the same – period.

Any new client engagement should start with an appropriate discovery session to determine what the overall objective is for the media campaign, which should be derived from one or more of the business objectives. Additionally, this is an opportunity to meet with key stakeholders in the organization and gain insights about their customers; after all, they are the experts on their brand. This allows for an immersion that goes beyond a standard demo and geotargeting or information on a media brief. It builds a foundation of true insights about these consumers to understand what will create a response and what we want that response to be.

The options and combinations to purchase and target media today are seemingly endless. Options change regularly, and the need to stay up to speed on those options is imperative. To target on ROS, RON, channel, demo, geo, behavioral, contextual, retargeting, custom channel, keyword, creative, and weather-triggered are all viable options to test; however, there are also more complex ways to integrate other platforms, such as social media or even relating back to the brand’s data to their customers.

According to a November 2011 Emailvision Global Survey, 85 percent of online marketers believe they can do more with customer data. This survey was specific to email segmentation and targeting leveraging demographics, customer purchase behavior, and response rates. All of this information is readily available to influence customers who have chosen to be associated with your brand. However, even at this level, many marketers feel they are not leveraging it to its fullest capability.

Display advertising often gets a bum rap for being intrusive, mainly due to it being an overtly “push” medium in comparison to other digital marketing methods like paid search or emails. It’s important to change the paradigm and use data to more relevantly target consumers based on their behavior or activities. Frequently, when we start a new engagement with a client and pull competitive data, we see similarities in the media plans. A large portion of the budget is spent on one or a few websites, and then there is a long tail of sites purchased off of a network or exchange. However, upon doing more research through Hitwise or even a free tool like Quantcast, you see there are clearly differences in the audiences and segments. Similarities, yes, but these differences can often provide valuable insights as to why consumers have a preference to certain brands, or what is a point of differentiation you can create to influence a consumer’s decision-making process.

By knowing the brand and understanding their customers, we realize that no brand has the exact same customers. They are all different; therefore, the media plan should be different as well.

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