Brands, Agencies Work Through Media Planning One Day At A Time

Who said "the best-laid plans of mice and men often go astray"? Doesn't matter. What matters is that agencies and brands are whipsawing during COVID-19 from one day to the next, trying to manage their way to profitability as the crisis unfolds.

A lively panel discussion on Day One of MediaPost's TV & Video Insider Summit heard a pet food marketer and two agency operatives acknowledge the difficulty in planning during uncertainty.

MacKenzie Magner, Associate Director, Media at T3, said the agency has moved away from full-year, half-year and even quarterly plans. "It's month to month," he said. "We're reacting to what's going on. Three weeks ago, the conversation was that states were beginning to open up. Now, a lot of states are going back to shutdown so we need to double down on the online ordering business gain. We're playing it by ear."

Clients need to do a risk assessment as it relates to the upfront, said Michele Toller, VP Media at Empower. "Are they comfortable investing $7 million in the upfront? Our belief is that marketers need the ability to react to business."

Freshpet's John Speranza, Senior VP of Marketing, echoed them both. "We're working on a quarterly basis. At what point do you want to be quick to market to get attention? The risk/reward is significant. It's a discussion we're continuing to have. For now, we'll do what works and wait and see how October, November and December unfold."


Speranza did say that the current environment is a good one for testing and learning. "What we've noticed is that on OTT and CTV, Freshpet is being placed in certain program and genres. On the linear side, we overweighted other things. We're broadening our audience."

Magner, who handles a portfolio of QSR clients, is sharing with his OTT partners data on who is visiting QSRs in the last six months. "It helps, qualifying our audience," he said. "We're not casting a huge net. We can identify prospects. It may be a $4 higher CPM for OTT, especially as inventory is cheaper, but we are definitely okay with that."

"Our perspective [on OTT] has changed," said Speranza. "There's a lot of overlap, we realize. Light TV viewers are also in the OTT space. We used to plan it separately. Now, we are viewing the world as one holistic approach to video."

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