Why Media Planning Belongs In Creative Agencies

This post asks several questions regarding media in the world of communication: Should we go back to a model where media duties were handled by advertising agencies? What added value is left to media agencies in an increasingly platformized media ecosystem? What does the future hold for media strategy when a handful of players with few formats have taken over digital media and are representing more than 50% of total investments?

The answer to all these questions is that media planning and execution should be handled by advertising agencies. Here’s why:

Controlling media planning allows agencies to build communication strategy as well as advertising campaigns. By considering audiences—and not only targets—it is easier to calculate overall communication budget costs, and to calculate them more accurately.

To switch from targets to audiences, an agency must plan the most efficient way to use its budget, which allows a true ROI to be calculated.



Incorporating audiences is also a way to deepen analysis of consumers to identify what makes one group of individuals unique compared to others. This can include their media consumption habits, love for a brand and personal interests—all of which rely on precise and thorough data analysis. We all know how difficult it is to manage a communication strategy when there are too many overlaps between targets.

Having responsibility for media planning encourages agencies to monitor and optimize their campaigns after release. Considering the reality of the value chain, creative advertising agencies might think that their work stops when assets are delivered and ready to be aired.

But an agency with media consciousness can closely monitor the performance of different assets and react if necessary. It implies specific skills (such as data analysts and data miners) to monitor the performance of campaigns in all their dimensions: Do the assets reach their targets? Do they change perceptions and points of view? Generate useful interactions?

Monitoring performance in real time makes sense only if agencies can react and improve various pieces of the campaign. Again, this relies on new skills and processes to be able to evolve the campaign if performance falls short of expectations.

Ownership of media planning pushes agencies to consider the performance of the campaign through its impact on a client’s business. Integrating media knowledge into advertising agencies allows them to manage overall cost of campaigns for various audiences and encourages an ROI way of thinking.

Communication plays a central role in campaigns, which must be measured by their ability to impact a brand’s business. If media duties are handled inside creative agencies, it’s less likely their expense will be cut when the business is below expectations.

When a creative agency also handles media, it can do its job properly, but also triggers a virtuous circle for the benefit of our entire industry, which it sorely needs. With this mindset, advertising agencies tend to provide more relevant creative assets and become the source of more qualitative briefs for media agencies. Media agencies are then able to build more refined strategies, which make for more effective campaigns that generate better business results.

2 comments about "Why Media Planning Belongs In Creative Agencies".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 17, 2021 at 9:20 a.m.

    Timothee, your  assumption---based, I assume,  on published total "ad revenue" stats ---is that more than half of all ad dollars are spent in digital. However,  major national brands that spend at least $5-10 million per year on media, give "TV" 50-60% of their ad dollars while digital  gets only about 20% and much of this is in a sales support not a branding role. What's more, almost all of these corporations---some 400-500 of them, representing thousands of brands----get media planning via thier media agencies or their "creative" agencies now. The problem being that the media planning and, especially, the media buying functions are not properly integrated with the "creative"---brand positioning/ ad execution---- even though this is suppposedly the responsibility of the account handlers---who, themselves are not well versed in media as the agencies see no need to worry about this and most CMOs don't care.

    So, I agree with you that media planning/buying needs to be fully integrated with "creative" and, for that matter, with marketing, itself---the whole process---but this is not a new issue and, sadly, it was settled long ago when most CMOs decided that "media" was merely an eyeball assembling function---with some scheduling nuances by the brand managers and media planners---while "creative" was the whole ball game. They make all sorts of speeches implying that this is not the case, but this is merely following the media buzz, it's not what they really think---and, not surprisingly, the agencies follow their clients' lead. Why rock the boat? Until more CMOs wake up to the lost opportunities regarding media targeting and planning in general as well as buying media not just by CPMs, there will be no serious movement towards integration of the media and "creative" functions---no matter where the people sit. It's up to the CMOs, to make it happen---not the agencies.

  2. John Grono from GAP Research, September 17, 2021 at 5:35 p.m.

    I wonder what the ROI for better creative in the ads would be?

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