Marketers’ Three Keys to More Agile Media Planning
By Jay Nielsen, SVP of Global Planning Products for Nielsen
Between rapid news cycles, ever-changing consumer behaviors, and an unclear future as the pandemic continues, adaptability is key for marketing success. To help achieve brand goals, marketers should conduct ongoing media planning throughout the year, versus only once at the start, that puts key audiences at the center of marketing efforts. By establishing always-on, consumer-focused measurement practices, marketers can then leverage outcomes to continuously optimize marketing strategies and tactics.
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To operate with this level of agility, marketers should practice the following:
Center planning around people
We all are aware of how quickly consumer behaviors and needs evolve, so it’s critical marketers listen to their audiences’ needs and respond appropriately. Forrester predicts comfort and sustainability to trump consumers’ shopping priorities in 2022, giving marketers a high-level direction on how to start appealing to prospects.
Understanding key audiences on a more granular level, however, can feel like chasing a moving target. For example, more media platforms and channels means that consumers now have more options than ever to consume content. Especially as populations continue to diversify, marketers need to establish ways to secure up-to-date insights into the brand’s target audiences. First-party data is especially powerful because it allows marketers to follow consumer behaviors across all interactions with the brand, which establishes a deeper level of understanding than traditional third-party data sources could offer.
Instead of devoting marketing bandwidth to sourcing audience data, brands can leverage martech tools to keep a pulse of key audiences’ behaviors and interests for them. Using this technology allows marketers to check on consumers whenever they need to, so that marketers can develop campaigns rooted in the timely needs of consumers.
Practice nonstop media planning
Marketers should adopt a mindset of continuous planning to avoid locking themselves into outdated tactics. By analyzing the information sourced through their data collection practices, marketers can observe how consumer trends are evolving in real time so that the brand stays in touch with it’s audiences. Moreover, the more often marketers record and assess campaign results, the more opportunities they have to see which tactics are truly effective. Marketers can couple these insights with past findings to inform future campaigns and reallocate marketing spend to only the tactics proven to work–and with up-to-date insights, even adjust campaigns currently in flight. This way, marketing teams don’t waste time or spend promoting campaigns that don’t resonate with consumers.
With continuous planning, brands can experiment with new campaign ideas and media buys in the short term with the comfort that they can scrap the campaign quickly if it doesn’t meet expectations. Likewise, if the campaign shows positive returns, marketers can integrate the concept into its usual marketing mix.
Brands also need to know how their competitors are performing. Analyzing competitive spend reveals how competitors are encroaching on target audiences, and if competitor spend is thereby hurting marketers’ own sales goals. This way, marketers will be able to attribute impact on ROI to competitor spend versus their own campaigns falling short.
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Align planning efforts to increase marketing efficiency
Marketers have an opportunity to make campaign planning even smarter through connected planning, where marketers use historical data and the same audience profiles across each of its software solutions to ensure planning and buying align. Marketers tend to use different target definitions across media channels, which leads marketers to measure their efforts in siloes. For example, if different platforms use different data sets (e.g., online platforms sync with the brand’s first-party data while offline systems are fed third-party data), marketers do not have a unified target to work towards. By consequence, their measurements will not add up.
This challenge is compounded by the fact that marketers often use an average of 28 different vendors, which makes coherent measurement and planning challenging. A fragmented approach isn’t only inconvenient; it’s detrimental to effectiveness. Nielsen research found that brands of all sizes and industries have very little confidence in their existing martech capabilities, with nearly half (47%) of marketers at large organizations considering data quality an obstacle.
There is a need to prioritize consistency between data, software, and partners to maximize marketing success. By using uniform target definitions across channels and campaigns, marketers can secure actionable feedback on campaign success in relation to the original marketing plan. This way, marketers can see how campaigns are delivering on goals. Fortunately, marketing technology is improving to better communicate between tools, making consistent measurement across systems, from planning tools to buying platforms, possible. Marketers now even have access to all-in-one solutions that streamline their techstack; with all their marketing insights in one place, marketers can act faster and more accurately than if they were switching between disparate systems.
With the pandemic’s effects on consumer behavior and media consumption forecasted to linger long past its grip on public health, marketers need to maintain the flexibility and sensitivity they employed over the past two years as part of their permanent planning strategy. Importantly, marketers should use these three keys in unison to see the greatest impact on marketing effectiveness. By coupling a growth mindset with updated planning and measurement practices, marketers can operate confidently no matter the media landscape before them.
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