A Manifesto to Modernize Media Planning and Buying

Tips to help you modernize your approach to media planning and buying

Media planning and buying today is unrecognizable from what it used to be. In the old days—like, say, the year 2000—media activities were done manually, TV and print were the dominant channels and deep data was non-existent. ROI was difficult to ascertain.

Fast forward to today and media departments have advanced considerably—but so have their challenges. Traditional channels have been disrupted and technology has created huge amounts of data that media departments are responsible for capturing and analyzing.

In the midst of all this, marketers have less transparency over their spending and less trust in other parties in the ecosystem. Their increased desire for efficiency and control over ad tech decisions, data strategies and media has created an environment where brands and ad tech companies liaise directly—whether or not an agency is involved.

Against this backdrop, here’s my manifesto of seven things I would do if I were building out a media organization today:

1. Rebuild the organization, technology and processes

The current media organization structure—in which each department is a discrete team and digital and data expertise are held in silos—is ill-suited to the new landscape.

Create agility by reconstructing media teams into nimble, cross-functional groups. The goal of this is to enable a data-driven approach to paid, owned and earned media conducted in short cycles rather than according to a predetermined, long-term plan.

Automating your approach to gathering intelligence can help restructured teams do more in less time and with fewer resources. For example, IBM’s AI platform Watson was used for education and to help provide potential context for this article.

2. Modernize your approach to measurement

The industry is more quantifiable than at any other time in history. As such, media departments are often accountable for proving their investment delivers ROI. To do this, build an infrastructure that includes data-intensive and technology-enabled tools rather than simply buying functions.

More specifically, build a centralized database that merges multiple data sources. Depending on your organization, this can be the home for first- and third-party data, CRM, social and website data. On top of that, ensure that most every decision is data driven and leverage multi-touch attribution to measure the impact at the impression and conversion levels.

Ensure that your tools such as DMPs, DSPs, advertising verification and brand safety tools continue their forward march into areas such as social, native and OTT.

3. Automate to increase supply chain transparency

The lack of transparency in the media buying process means that marketers don’t have visibility into their spending. Additionally, the sheer number of middlemen and data sources can make reconciliation a nightmare.

To achieve more clarity, implement blockchain technology that can automate the process via smart contracts and bring more transparency to the process.

4. Get your privacy practices in order

Consumers’ digital privacy concerns have been a moving target as technology has evolved. Now those worries find a fresh focal point as internet of things (IoT) technology becomes standard in many homes.

This can create even more holes in holistic audience targeting and measurement efforts. Privacy concerns demand increased sensitivity that will likely increase when the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) goes into effect on January 1, 2020.

To help ease the process of aligning your privacy practices with these upcoming regulations, import GDPR best practices into your U.S. efforts. Investing in better encryption and technology to incorporate consumers’ data preferences can also aid the transition to a regulation heavy environment.

Watch out for who you partner with too. Make sure you go into all new partner relationships with a clear picture of their data collection and privacy policies.

5. Create new customer experience initiatives

Consumers interact with brands through a number of platforms where data is often gathered in silos. Marketers who want to capture their customers’ attention should embrace omnichannel strategies to help provide a seamless user experience across channels.

And though it was born out of digital, in my opinion, today’s ad tech enables better audience targeting, efficient inventory management and personalized executions for omnichannel advertisers. Most marketers are used to a comfortable distance between them and the ad tech that enables their strategies, but they need to get closer so they can better understand the effectiveness of their ad spend.

6. Keep pace with technology innovation

5G wireless connectivity, voice assistants, AI, blockchain, IoT— all are evolving to connect people and technology in life-changing ways. In addition to making consumers’ lives easier, many of these same technologies will help make businesses more efficient.

These new technologies are on the cusp of causing transformation in nearly every industry. It’s up to you to keep pace with how they are evolving and how they will impact your customers. It may not be enough to just read about technological transformation. Test, learn and iterate. And start living the space yourself.

7. Invest in skills training

It used to be about IQ, then EQ and now it’s all about CQ—curiosity quotient. The truth is that you probably need it all to be truly successful. Being a generalist may not be enough anymore either, you may need to have real expertise and a POV in complex areas. For example, learning about AI may be critical as the media buying process of the future could be augmented—and in some cases, replaced—by AI. Cultivating soft skills is also important since people spend more time online which can lead to less time honing interpersonal skills.

To get up to speed, build or buy an intensive training program that includes live sessions introducing industry topics, e-learning for ongoing education, microlearning to keep pace with change, and soft skills like business writing and presenting.

Training is no longer just nice to have…it could be a do or die in this industry. That’s why we worked with Adweek to create the Institute for Brand Marketing, an interactive education experience for brand marketers who want to cultivate the skills to advance in a disruptive marketplace.

 As executive partner, global marketing at IBM iX, Babs Rangaiah’s directive is to apply the considerable assets of IBM to establish an end-to-end marketing advisory blueprint for the cognitive age for some of the world’s top brands. Prior to joining IBM, he was the VP of global communications planning and digital transformation at Unilever. Twitter: @Babs26