Working Toward Media-Planning Convergence

Last week, I addressed the issue of media convergence and how content sharing between TV and the Internet stands to affect media buyers.

Traditionally, of course, the current has run the other way. Offline media — TV, print, and radio — existed solo before slowly evolving into Web programming, magazine sites, and podcasts. Now, offline channels aren’t just employing the Internet as a new content delivery channel. They’re also looking to our space to inspire their programming and even relying on it to help predict upcoming new shows’ popularity.

This situation has a number of buyers wondering where they fit in. After last week’s column, I received a message from one marketer who suggested a shift in direction that would ultimately produce an army of “über-planners.” This new breed of buyer would proffer a balanced knowledge of online and offline space that was acquired by putting in time at both types of media shops.

“As an industry,” the marketer said, “how can we be the ones peering around the corner for our clients, if we can’t see the bend in the road to begin with?”

This is a particular valid point given the perspective held by the target audience we all endeavor to reach. Our clients’ customers shift from TV to the Web and back again without giving a thought to where the content’s found and why. That content might be transferred, shared, and made mobile. But it certainly isn’t segregated. So why are we?

Even though “über-planner” has a nice ring to it, redefining our roles this late in the game isn’t a viable option. From a business perspective, our industries remain fairly separated; each of us specializes in our medium of choice; and no one’s expected to possess knowledge of a space beyond her expertise.

Still, that doesn’t prevent us from familiarizing ourselves with the “bend in the road” and approaching our work with a more thorough understanding of both media worlds — and of our audience. Below are some ways in which you can up your über-planner quotient.

Take Traditional Stock

When interactive media planners and buyers begin a relationship with a new client, the first two questions asked often are: What type of placements have you tried in the past? And which ones were successful? Typically, the buyer asking them is referring specifically to the Web.

Next time you have an opportunity to probe a new client, be sure to ask about offline initiatives as well. The success of its print and radio ads might lead you to secure a magazine site or podcast placement you’d otherwise have overlooked.

Take a Poll

We’re often mandated to build a customer email database or amass information about our target market. More often than not, our method of choice is the online form.

As we request demographic and psychographic data from consumers online, an opportunity presents itself to learn more about our audience’s media consumption habits offline as well. Which medium do they prefer? What genre of content resonates with them most? All these findings can inform our media strategy, planning, and buying decisions online, motivating us to purchase placements on radio sites and to develop Web-only programming.

Talk Amongst Yourselves

One major problem with segregating traditional and online marketers is there isn’t nearly enough communication between the two. The geographic distance between us isn’t nearly as expansive as the figurative one.

When these two parties aren’t pitching against each other for a larger piece of the media pie, it behooves them to openly share campaign and audience data. A collaboration of this nature can greatly improve their efforts moving forward, which will ultimately increase the value of both vendors in the client’s eyes.

Interactive or traditional, planners and buyers have the potential to reach new heights of expertise. All it takes is a little motivation from media convergence.

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