Josh Gallagher
Dec 12, 2023

Picking up the pace in media planning

Tasked with finding audiences in difficult-to-reach and ever-evolving spaces, adjusting in real-time to fit-for-audience content, planners need to be more creative and agile in their approach, says EssenceMediacom's APAC COO.

Picking up the pace in media planning

Much has been made of recent media landscape fragmentation, yet less has been made of how it has become faster. While the ‘laws’ of marketing have been set by a canon of modern theorists, new platforms, channels, and formats emerge all the time, and consumer preferences can shift in a matter of moments. For media planners, this means that we need to pick up the pace.  

In years gone by, the role of the media planner, or media strategist, has been a more thoughtful pursuit. There was sufficient time built into established processes to ensure plans were robust. Brands were in control as they broadcast new product launches and promotions at a seemingly static audience. As people are consuming media from a variety of different sources, and do so on their own terms, planners now need to face a new media landscape, one where feature-length films go from cinema to stream within a week, and culture is discoverable through a scroll of a screen.    

There is no doubt that accountability to brand metrics remains a constant, but planners are now being tasked with finding audiences in difficult-to-reach and ever-evolving spaces. Real-time adjustments to fit-for-audience content take advantage of those stranded in the ‘messy middle’. Focusing on data that enriches understanding, not just collecting more signals, helps keep pace with everything from culture to commerce. Prioritising analysis of competitors’ lower-funnel responses helps keep up with a consumer in constant comparison mode. Planners need to be more creative and agile in their approach, moving at pace to gain a fast-mover advantage.   

Speed to addressable

A transition away from siloed platform thinking has been fuelled by advancing technology that allows for the leveraging of data to acquire only the impressions that effectively reach their target audience. A shift in prioritisation from a media-first to an audience-first mindset, where targeted messages span multiple channels, has become a top priority for modern marketers.  

  • Consumers have short attention spans: In today’s digital world, consumers are bombarded with information from all sides. They are quick to move on to the next thing. This means that addressable content needs to be delivered quickly and efficiently to capture and retain attention. 
  • Consumers expect personalisation: Consumers are used to seeing content that is tailored to their individual interests. Addressable content allows you to deliver personalised content to each individual consumer. However, to be effective, this content needs to be delivered in real time, or as close to real time as possible. 
  • Data is constantly changing: Consumer data is constantly changing, and so too are consumer preferences. This means that addressable content needs to be updated regularly to reflect the latest data and trends. 
  • Addressable content requires addressable measurement: At minimum, measurement frameworks and processes need to evolve to cater for the increased speed and complexity. It also has the potential to not just identify which segments and spaces work today, but which are emerging for tomorrow. 

The power to input millions of data points can take creativity to a new level. For example, ‘Shah Rukh Khan-My-Ad’ supported and took information from thousands of local businesses to produce celebrity endorsement in real time. 

As fast as culture 

To beat the ever-increasing algorithm war, marketers need to prioritise more relevant content. Consumers expect it. The rise of video-streaming platforms that use algorithms not for ads but to prioritise entertainment, shows that great content will always win. As technology and algorithms continue to develop, we can expect to see even more changes in audience expectations of brand communications. To gain much more valuable data, brands will be expected to create more personalised experiences that are relevant to their interests and needs. 

  • Stop them mid-scroll: Reflecting the real-time culture of your target audience, you can create ads that resonate with them on a personal level. 
  • Deliver value: Understanding culture enables brands to design experiences that go beyond an impression to create value, be it a product experience, social currency, or entertainment. 
  • Show that your brand belongs: Consumers want to see themselves represented in the ads they see and the products they buy. By featuring people from diverse backgrounds and cultures in your ads, you can show that your brand is inclusive and welcoming to all. For example, Nike committed to retailing women’s goalkeeping jerseys for major tournaments. 
  • Make your product more playful: Consumers want to see products that reflect their world. By staying up-to-date on cultural trends and shifts, you can ensure that your products remain always relevant and engaging even at the point-of-purchase. 

AI can ignite a spark of creativity by providing ways to reimagine the mundane. For example, digital creatives around the world have already been using a first-of-its-kind AI platform – a combination of GPT-4 and DALL-E – to generate original artwork from branded Coca-Cola elements and ‘Create Real Magic’. 

The pace of price

Consumer data is constantly changing, and so too are consumer purchase preferences. Content needs to be updated more regularly as consumers move into constant comparison mode. It has become an imperative to comprehend how we can adapt our advertising mix to align with how dynamic the retail ecosystem is becoming.  

  • Understand comparison: Price-sensitive consumers (even more so with inflation) seek out places where they can compare price to get better value. Brands that can use AI to understand pricing elasticity, and apply it to advertising, will always win. 
  • Make ads more valuable: Social consumers want to click seamlessly from inspiration to sale. By sharing real-time inventory and price, brands can give their consumers a transaction experience that better mimics a real-world impulse purchase. 
  • Find pockets of revenue: Dynamic pricing can make sure that revenue matches supply and demand as consumers hunt for scarce experiences. With travel back on the agenda, travel companies are looking to maximise a shortage of flights (supply) with people’s post-pandemic desire for better experiences (demand).  

Many brands will not want to change price (for example, some luxury brands burn their products instead of selling them at a discount) but value can be created indirectly. Ecommerce brands are looking to packaging, tiering, or bundling innovations to keep product offerings fresh and demonstrate value to different audiences without alerting price. 

Matching the pace of consumer behaviour

Consumers have changed at a rate faster than planners can test and learn. The great planners of tomorrow will be those that move at the speed of change and find that ‘fast-mover advantage’. Understanding how we can evolve our processes and ways of working to predict tomorrow’s behaviour rather than today’s will be the new measure of success. This will ultimately come from how quick we adapt as well as our understanding of how we use modern technology to enhance it. 

Josh Gallagher is chief operating officer, APAC at EssenceMediacom.

Campaign Asia

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