How Planning Problems Are Hindering Cross-Channel Campaigns

Kleiner Perkins’s Mary Meeker recently released her annual Internet trends report,and of the many emerging behaviors described, there’s one that brands have already taken note of: cross-device consumption.

We know people consume media on different devices, but now people rarely consume media on just ONE device at a time. Instead of passively watching TV, the average consumer now watches while multitasking -- they’re on Twitter, they’re shopping, they’re researching the content that’s on the (bigger) screen in front of them.

We expect that this behavior will only continue to grow and in doing so, will open up a whole world of interesting possibilities for advertisers. In fact, many have already attempted to leverage those with holistic new cross-channel campaigns. It sounds great, but so far things aren’t turning out as planned.

What Are Integrated Ad Campaigns and Why Aren’t They Working?

In order to reach the connected consumer across devices, advertisers are looking at ways to plan multi-device campaigns -- for example, a TV campaign planned in tandem with a digital campaign – in order to reach viewers with the same message across multiple touch points.

In theory, this seems obvious. Of course you should plan your TV campaign and the corresponding digital campaign together. And yet, according to a recent Nielsen study, it’s not actually working so well.

“[I]ntegrated ad campaigns that incorporate exposures on both TV and online aren’t delivering any better results than when TV and digital campaigns are planned separately. The weakness, according to the study, lies in planning for online."

Anyone familiar with the traditional process for online media planning won’t be surprised that its limitations are part of the problem. The average guaranteed online media plan takes over 40 steps to complete, which is true even for relatively simple desktop display campaigns, forget about more complex integrated campaigns.

It should be noted here that where we have seen great progress in the cross-channel sphere is with TV and social. Recognizing that TV audiences are often on Twitter while watching, many advertisers have launched interesting campaigns across both platforms. That said, the ideal cross-channel campaigns would not be limited to the walled garden of each social media platform, all of which requires distinct buying and planning (and generally creative).

Right now, the television buying process is totally distinct and separate from the online display buying process (and only takes a few steps.). Even if media planners are tackling both plans simultaneously, the execution is still separate. The utter lack of sophistication in the manual digital buying process doesn’t help matters much either.

Tomorrow’s Planning Tools

Fortunately, we are seeing the evolution of media-buying tools, beginning in digital. The latest suite of automated technology platforms are making it possible to execute a guaranteed digital deal in a fraction of the time, with a fraction of the hassle.

Figuring out online planning is the first step to realizing the potential of cross-channel marketing campaigns. Once this nascent market begins to mature, and the platforms designed to manage online media today become even more powerful, I expect we’ll see all forms of buying incorporated within a single tool, making it easier than ever to create entire cross-channel plans. For the first time, planners will actually be able to create and execute plans using the same tools.

Cross-Channel Strategies Can Work…And They Will

The problem isn’t in the concept. Cross-channel campaigns have their foundation in solid logic: reaching the same target consumers with the same advertising campaign across different media does make sense, and the possibilities presented by cross-device consumption are truly exciting. Now all we need are the right media buying tools to help us realize the potential.

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6 comments about "How Planning Problems Are Hindering Cross-Channel Campaigns ".
  1. John Grono from GAP Research , July 23, 2014 at 7:31 p.m.
    Conversely, people have ALWAYS multi-tasked when consuming media. Who hasn't sat and eaten dinner in from of the TV. Had the TV on when reading the paper. Listened to the radio when driving to work and saw those billboards. About the only "immune" medium is cinema - because you pay your money to go into a darkened virtually silent room to be immersed in the content and woe behold anyone who hasn't turned their mobile phone off! What HAS changed is the (presumed) measurability of those distractions. But you have to use precise measurement because most claimed concurrent usage is across a period of time (Q. "Last night did you use any other devices when watching TV?") as opposed to specific concurrent usage (Q. "Last night during [insert TV show here] when the [insert product name] ad came on at [insert time here] were you also using another device?")
  2. Jon Schwartz from Netmining , July 24, 2014 at 10:53 a.m.
    John's right. Also, when you boil it down, if a marketer were able to serve ads concurrently (let's say within 15 - 30 mins of each other) across TV and mobile for instance, is that anything more than just increased frequency?
  3. Craig Ullman from Networked Politics , July 24, 2014 at 12:25 p.m.
    Cross-channel advertising is a more interesting opportunity than merely increasing frequency. Advertisers can leverage the affordances of each channel to add to the message, let users explore information about the product, even buy it. Put simply, cross-channel advertising can create rich direct response opportunities for TV advertising. IMHO at least, that's the real synergy.
  4. John Grono from GAP Research , July 24, 2014 at 4:02 p.m.
    Craig, the goal is for increased campaign reach (cross-channel) rather than frequency. The only frequency issues I would factor in would be the 'relative impact' of a single exposure of each medium (also taking into account the creative of possible). For example, for a 'continuity campaign' you might plan for a lower 1+ reach on TV, press and magazines, a 3+ reach on Out-of-Home, and a 5+ online. Those relativities are just examples, but some media trialling along with benchmark studies will generally guide you to a brand's frequency strategy.
  5. Kevin Barry from Barry Marketing & Media , July 24, 2014 at 4:32 p.m.
    But tablets and smartphones have different values...particularly as media that allow brand interaction FAR better than TV does. TV is the great reacher, but has a lousy UI for interaction. If I know an ad has been served to a TV set, and I can get an opportunity for more brand immersion in front of a prospective customer, that's more than just one more impression.
  6. John Grono from GAP Research , July 24, 2014 at 4:53 p.m.
    Agreed Kevin, device-type is relevant and important. But TV is less a response medium and more a brand-building medium. Not all ads are after 'instant gratification'. We had a beer ad called "The Big Ad" here in Australia (Cannes winner I seem to recall). Why did it work its socks off? Not because viewers clicked a button and a beer appeared but because the next time they were in a social drinking occasion guess what was on their beer-choice list.