We need facts and figures to ensure we make rational media decisions, writes GERRIT VISSER.
Those of us who have been in the media industry for some time will remember the previous Advertising Media Association of South Africa (Amasa) Media Planning Handbook (published from 1996 to 2012) titled Media Planning: Art or Science?. It reasoned that media planning was about a combination and balance between art (intellect) and science (data).
For 20 years, I would argue, the balance of our media planning has been skewed towards ‘art’ mainly because there simply wasn’t enough robust data available to inform all our decisions. The data available to us provided a very one-dimensional picture of media consumption (reach and frequency). We also all relied on the same source of data to arrive at pretty much the same conclusions and recommendations.
The world today, however, is a very different place because of technology, fierce competition and pressure on return on investment. Current industry research has become fragmented and data is generated at every opportunity. Even media agencies and owners are launching proprietary research projects in the quest to understand the consumer’s media relationships, and the effects these have on brand building and sales.
There is just so much data, but does it work for us? Even today, we still practice more the art of media planning than the science of it because the challenge of sourcing, integrating and interpreting all the new and different data sources is simply too time-consuming and daunting for most of us. It also possibly requires a skillset that media planners currently might not have. This means our media arguments are often not as solid as they could, or should, be.
Complicating matters is many clients’ belief that they are at least as consumer- and media-savvy as we are. When a debate ensues, the client often ‘wins’ because our argument is not solid enough.
I am still amazed at the volume of irrational ‘emotional media planning’ out there. Many media decisions are not made based on facts, but on emotion, beliefs and perceptions. These are often driven by clients and accepted by us.
See if you can recognise any of the following emotional planning examples (clients lovingly profiled with tongue-in-cheek, of course):
The Paranoid Client: Every campaign, independent of target market or objective, must include television, because without it “the campaign is sure to fail”.
The Sample-of-One Client: “I like The Mentalist, therefore my target market shall too.” Despite sky-high cost per points (CCPs) and low, low audience ratings (ARs) to the contrary.
The Snobby Client: Soapies and WWE wrestling are not good enough for ‘their’ brand. Even though the brand belongs to consumers and the target market thinks these environments are good enough. Also, it is where they can be found cheaply and in abundance.
The Dinosaur Client: Little or no digital investment. “It is not a big thing in my target market’s life.”
The Sweating the Small Stuff Client: Questions every single television spot and comments on why the programme might or might not be suitable. We typically have to revise the schedule 10 times before it is finally approved.
The Debate Club Client: Has the time to debate the merits of television programme choice, or ROOI ROSE vs SARIE. For days.
The Moon and Stars Client: Does not want to hear that their investment is too little. Proudly challenges us to “innovate” with their tiny
R100 000 “launch” budget, while simultaneously hitting several objectives and target markets.
The Me Me Me Client: Placing media where they, or their boss, and not their target market, can see it.
The Main Stage Client: Insists, at a cost, on a disproportionate amount of prime or drivetime on schedule, despite proof that target markets do consume a substantial amount of media outside of these times.
The Buddy-Buddy Client: Gives business to people and media owners they know and like.
Ultimately, I believe it is at least partly our fault that this is still happening – for not being the media experts clients expect us to be and persuading them with facts and arguments with which they cannot argue.
We are moving into a future that will be driven by the need for even more data to support better targeting, better buying efficiencies, increased value delivery and programmatic buying solutions. It is our responsibility to embrace and take ownership of this brave new world of data. We need to educate clients on the importance of rational, logical, data-led decision-making in order to set them up for what is waiting. We must use the facts at our disposal, interpret them correctly, package them properly and ensure that clients are in no doubt that we are experts in our field. Data is your friend. It is the future of our craft. Let strategy, concepts and ideas be led by art, but let your planning, implementation and execution be solidly based on science.
Gerrit Visser is trading director at the Dentsu Aegis Network SA.
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