Media planning in the pre-digital/internet era was not that complex and challenging what it is today. If you are new to media planning, I’ll give you a quick basic understanding of what media planning is. Every business has to market and advertise its product/service and to do that they create communication and deliver the advertising message to its target audience.
In simple terms, media planning is when you decide what medium/channels such as TV, radio, print, outdoor (OOH), social media, paid search e.tc will be used to deliver that advertising message, and what % of the marketing budget should be allocated to these mediums in order to achieve the media objective which can be driving brand awareness, building consideration of the brand or increase in sales.
The job of planners was easy back in the days when there was no digital since there were a handful of channels and few shows where planners would schedule the ad and place the brands, print was mostly dominated by players like TOI, HT, and few regional players radio also was not cluttered. Planners had limited mediums to reach consumers, TV and print dominated the media plans and took most of the advertising budget.
Planning was fairly simple, you would pick top channels and shows with high TRP and viewership and run your campaigns. Unlike digital, measurement dint exist and it was weak, unreliable, and not much transparent but in case of digital where everything can be measured like reach, impression, clicks, engagement, and final sales in real-time.
After this whole digital thing came, consumers started to move from traditional media such as TV, newspaper, radio to social, OTT, music apps, online video, and online news and games. Though, digital has created a level playing field for brands and businesses who could not afford TV spots and a front-page ad on TOI but wanted to advertise and reach the audience at scale.
Media planning has become tough and complex now with this whole explosion of mobile, internet, social, and OTT as we consumers now live in a multi-screen world and move seamlessly between screens and devices and they consume content across social, OTT, and web and spend more time on digital than they do on TV or reading newspaper.
Since consumers are not consuming content/media in silos it creates a challenge for brands and media planners to tap all touchpoints and reach audiences with the right context and at the right time so that brands can achieve their goal.
With this rising complexity of consumer-driven and data-driven planning, industry demands new skills set in media planners and it’s not enough to be a just SEM/paid search planner, social or programmatic planner but a holistic or integrated planner who are medium agnostic and thinks consumer and audience first and have no biased towards any specific channel or platform. What I call them “new age media planners”. But the skills these media planners require are:
- new age media planners need to be far more integrated into their approach who can give solutions across all media touchpoints and they should not be platform or medium agnostic, in digital touchpoints are very large so integrated thinking where you think of consumer first is a very important skill or talent.
- they need to be data-driven and analytical as now planning requires making decisions based on data and not some intuition. Also, understanding and analyzing data is also very important for post-campaign analysis to make better media investment decisions in the future based on learning from the past campaign.
- they should have a deep understanding of consumer behavior and how they consume content across different mediums and platforms.
- they need to be aware of what are the current trends and emerging technologies that the brand can leverage to connect with its audience in a meaning full way.
- One skill that is very important in today’s new age media planning world is understanding the creative ideas and ability to guide and advise the creative teams on how important it is to customize creatives and create content based on mediums or platforms and how people consume content there.
- new age media planning requires planners to be storytellers.
- new age planners need to be more than just paid search planners, social planners, or TV planners, they need skills in search, social, analytics, programmatic, content, TV, print, and OOH.
- they need to understand marketing, branding, and not just media and should be able to think beyond vanity metrics like impressions, reach, frequency, engagement, and CTR to lift in the purchase intent, brand favorability, sales, revenue, and lifetime value (LTV) of customers.
- they need to develop strategic thinking and should not focus too much on data because sometimes focusing too much on data and numbers can hinder innovative thinking.
- At last, new age media planning requires planners to read and read a lot about not just media but things like economics, consumer psychology and technology.