Multi-Media Optimization: How to Make it Work

by , May 31, 2001, 12:00 AM
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Traditional media optimization has been tried before. And it failed. It was used primarily for planning purposes and didn’t catch on because it was too cumbersome and added too many steps to the planning and buying process. Also, the people on the front line didn’t find they could create effectiveness weights they were comfortable with in order to establish the relative value of one media versus another or different unit sizes within media. And buyers were concerned that we couldn’t use it as a buying tool to package individual shows and buy within the time frame required to make the purchase.

So, what needs to be done?

First, I believe we need to understand that multi-media optimization will not make all media a commodity. We know attentive scores vary, we know media involvement and time spent vary, we know media environment matters and we know that exposure to one medium is not independent of exposure to another in a multi-media campaign. And we also know that the cumulative effect of a mixed media campaign will have a different result than one engaged in a single medium, particularly as the effects of frequency differ by media. So, we need to develop more extensive and sophisticated insight to ascribe proper values to different media or successive exposures for individual product categories.

There’s still a difference of opinion in many quarters about how optimizers should work between buyer and seller, particularly as it relates to multi-media. Product usage and media usage, lifestyle and behavior characteristics, are all examined in the planning process but rarely take place in the actual negotiation process, although the relative value of the target audience within each demographic cell can be established. Also, with media consolidations, cross-media deals will take on a new dimension for both buyers and sellers. So simultaneous optimization analysis will become even more essential for integrated sales propositions.

All media must be evaluated in a way that allows us to establish benchmarks for media comparisons both separately and in combination with one another. Not only efficiency, reach accumulation and the impact of successive frequency but also the relative effectiveness of different dayparts, program or content types, media environment and unit sizes. So, we need to establish proper effectiveness weights if multi-media optimization is to reach its full potential.

As far as the Internet is concerned, it’s very disappointing that for the medium that touted itself in 1995 as having the goal of being “the most measurable of all media,” we have only a few individual proprietary efforts for Reach and Frequency that can facilitate its inclusion into a traditional media optimization model. A cume study with reach curves based on actual schedules and standard definitions to facilitate the appropriate metrics are crucial to evaluating the Web for its future inclusion into the mix.

Data suppliers have a lot to gain by releasing their full respondent level database. We need to know how the same people consume different media and we need the data to be as recent as possible. The accessibility of this kind of research for third party software systems will contribute significantly to the advertising marketplace and allow more companies to consider their media advertising a more productive investment as they use more sophisticated tools.

Multi-media optimization is a significant step forward in the media planning and buying process. If we can all agree on its potential value for advertisers and start to address some of the issues, I think we will be light years ahead of where we were just a few years ago. Advertisers want multi-media oriented solutions today. They want objective and accountable media-neutral evaluations. And they see the consolidation of media offering new opportunities of multi-media packages and cross media platforms as integrated marketing tools rather than a la carte menus.

Multi-media optimization must be flexible, versatile and very user friendly as well as accommodating to all databases – both syndicated and customized. Then we need to establish the infrastructure and utilize the most advanced systems to make it to happen now.

- Michael D. Drexler is Executive VP at Mediasmith, Inc. an integrated Interactive media planning and buying company. During his 41 years in advertising he has been Media Director of Ogilvy, DDB and FCB as well as Chairman of TN Media.

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