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.

Principles of Traditional Media Planning

When planning and buying traditional media, we establish a target audience based on demographic and psychographic characteristics, then use those parameters to evaluate media options.  We follow this process for some very important reasons:

Minimizing Waste — No medium is perfect.  Each property reaches more people than are part of our target audiences, so we look for properties with the greatest concentrations to maximize efficiency.  With every buy, we understand that there is an inherent volume of waste. Audience profiles are a vital part of minimizing that waste.

Balancing Cost/Risk — Media is expensive.  And the greater the expense, the greater the risk.  Audience profiles help us reduce our risk and help ensure that we’re spending in the most appropriate ways in order to achieve the desired results.

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

How Programmatic Differs from Traditional Media Planning

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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