Media Planning in the Age of Programmatic

The addition of Internet to the traditional media mix often presents challenges for advertisers.  This new and ever-changing form of advertising represents a sea change in the ways we approach planning and buying.  To fully leverage the power of this new medium requires an evolution in how we think about and plan our media buys.

Traditional Media Planning 

When planning and buying traditional media, we establish a target audience. This audience is based on geographic, demographic, and psychographic characteristics – info such as where they live, their age and gender, what they like, and how they spend their time. For instance, if you are a makeup company that wants to reach older women in  We then use that target audience to evaluate which media will be most effective in reaching it. 

We follow this process in order to:

Minimize Waste — No medium is perfect: each parameter we set to define our target audience will reach more people than fit our target exactly. To minimize this, we look for characteristics that have the greatest concentration of people who do fit the target. The better we define our target audience, the higher the percentage of engaged, interested consumers will be. 

Balancing Cost/Risk — Traditional forms of media are expensive.  The greater the expense, the greater the risk.  With well-defined audience profiles, however,  we are able to reduce this risk by ensuring that we are reaching the most engaged people.

Imperfect Feedback — The traditional media cycle is relatively long.  From the planning stages through the post-campaign analysis, it may be months before we will have feedback on a campaign’s effectiveness.  Audience profiles give us confidence that we are giving our campaigns the greatest chance of success.

What’s different about Programmatic Media?

There are some fundamental differences between traditional media and programmatic Internet media.  These differences require a fundamentally different approach to planning and executing media buys. 

Strategy Based — Traditional media planning is about evaluating specific media properties to fit within a plan that targets an audience profile.  Programmatic media planning is about creating and evaluating strategies to reach the audiences that are likely to take desired actions. 

Greater Choice — Within Internet media, we have myriad targeting options. These combine the best of traditional approaches in one campaign.  We can reach our targets using a content-based approach.  We can leverage data to serve ads based on observed behavior much like we do with Direct Mail.  We can even target based on proximity and specific geographic locations.

Immediate Feedback  Within a few days, we can tell if a particular strategy is working.

Low Cost — Programmatic Internet media are the most cost-effective media available.  CPMs on programmatic media are a fraction of the cost of traditional media.  In addition to creating massive efficiencies, the low cost means the risks associated with prospecting for new audiences, testing media and targeting strategies, or serving to secondary audiences is greatly minimized.

Optimization — Unlike a traditional plan, which once implemented can be difficult to change and refine, a programmatic campaign is defined by change.  Planners and buyers are constantly reviewing campaign data to reduce waste and improve performance.  This process allows us to rapidly adapt to current market conditions and discover better ways to achieve a campaign’s goals.

Armed with a knowledge of the unique capabilities of programmatic media buying, we can begin to use these new media in ways that have been previously unavailable.  By applying known audience characteristics then adapting them to leverage the powers of programmatic media, we can begin to achieve the efficiencies and successes that we’ve always strived for.

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