Being an ad guy at heart, and one who specifically grew out of media, I love seeing the role of media professionals become front and center in the digital economy. But it’s interesting because media is getting both easier and harder at the very same time.
It used to be that a bunch of analysis went into understanding the target audience, developing a media mix and selecting the publishers who would be considered and ultimately recommended for your media buys. Then you gathered the available data and determined efficiencies and audience reach as a result of your campaign.
A few years back, this initial stage of media planning and buying became extremely complicated as a result of the vast number of choices you had available to you. Then things went even further down the path of complication, as media and data became unhinged and you could select audiences separated from media publishers. Programmatic came to the front, enabling even more direct control of the inventory without having to manage direct relationships with publishers.
All this served to make media planning and buying almost as complex as open-heart surgery. To be a media planner, you actually had to seek out training and partner with companies who were willing to invest in your success as much as you were willing to invest in their platforms.
The mediascape has simplified dramatically in the last three years. Planning your media mix has gotten simpler due to the increased use of programmatic and the strength of a few key players. Most buyers have either launched their own trading desks or partnered with a single demand-side platform or exchange to access a programmatic suite of tools. They are well-trained and efficient, offsetting this “always on” type of media with a select group of key-direct publishers.
Those key-direct publishers are comprised of a few vertically focused players and the large media platforms like Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Buyers are less inclined to cut a publisher than they are to optimize and work through any challenges with them. They know the audience is there, and they realize the creative, the format, or maybe the tactics they’re taking are where the challenges lie. Having a high-volume audience these days is important, and the publishers with these audiences are in a good place for consolidations of ad spend.
The datascape is also getting easier, if you know what to look for. The choices for data providers are certainly not small, but the partners of volume are offering a diversity of services such as modeling, analytics and managed services that help you identify, select and focus your needs on a single provider. The more you’re able to focus your efforts on a single key partner, the better results you’ll probably get.
Some of you might think I’m biased in that opinion given my day job, but it’s the same rationale as what you see in media. Doing reviews and RFPs and constantly evaluating new partners can be a massive time suck, and that’s time you should be dedicating to your customers. It’s a better use of time to find the right partner who has the full gamut of services and offerings packaged into a single solution and focus on that relationship.
What’s getting harder here is finding the right people who can manage these kinds of relationships. I was one of the strange people who knew he was going to be in marketing and advertising and went to school to be trained as such. Most media people were not trained in this way, but they got into the space and learned it from the ground up.
These days you need a better understanding of the datascape and mediascape, and you need more formal training to be a success. This is important, and more agencies are working on true training programs, seeking out ways to elevate the knowledge base of their teams. Working with your key partners is one way to do this, and another reason to focus on the right partners rather than looking for somewhere else where the grass may seem greener, but it’s most likely the same color after alls.
All I know is I still love media, in all its complicated glory. There’s no better business to be in!