Vast Majority Of Planners Still Rely On Spreadsheets

For those who fear advanced automation and AI technologies will soon replace the manual functions of media planning, new research indicates most advertisers and agencies still are pretty old school when it comes to the process, relying on spreadsheets -- not even dashboards.

Eighty-five percent of 250 client and agency execs responsible for managing media planning still use either Microsoft Excel files or Google Sheets, according to findings of an April survey released this week by Guideline, the parent of Standard Media Index, SQAD, Lumina and other planning and buying tools.

Interestingly, clients are even more reliant on spreadsheets to manage media plans than agencies, according to the findings (see above).

Not surprisingly, Guideline is using the findings (see others below) to announce the launch of its own new centralized planning management solution, Guideline Planning, which it says enables media planners to centralize the process of planning, allocating, visualizing, analyzing and optimizing media buys vis more than 20 API integrations with key data sources. See graphic representation below.



Meanwhile, other key findings from Guideline's survey include:

  • Marketers depend on several data sources to inform their media planning. 54% of brand and agency marketers utilize 3-5 data sources to inform their planning, while 20% use 1-2, and nearly 18% utilize 6-9.
  • There is a disconnect between insights and optimization. While 28% of respondents indicated they receive data daily to help optimize ad spend throughout the year, many marketers still optimize plans on a monthly basis. In fact, nearly 26% (25.7%) stated they alter and/or optimize ad spend allocation monthly – with just over 12% (12.4%) optimizing daily. This disconnect creates a lag in optimal allocation.
  • Planned ad spend depends on more than previous investments. When deciding where to allocate ad spend while making yearly plans, over 48% indicated they base their decisions on channel or medium successes from the previous year; nearly 31% indicated “based largely on spend allocations from the previous year;” and nearly 21% indicated “based on conversations in-market.” While the planning process has historically remained an annual occurrence, today’s media landscape requires a more frequent cadence when it comes to the optimization of planned investments. 
2 comments about "Vast Majority Of Planners Still Rely On Spreadsheets".
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  1. Kevin Killion from Stone House Systems, Inc., July 2, 2024 at 1:05 p.m.

    Hard to understand without knowing the specific questions asked.  In particular, the title on the chart says, "using spreadsheets to manage media planning", which is very specific, while the text says, "Eighty-five percent of 250 client and agency execs ... still use either Microsoft Excel files or Google Sheets", which is very non-specific.

    I'm not surprised at all that 85% use Excel at least some of the time for some things, not necessarily as their central tool for planning.


  2. John Grono from GAP Research, July 2, 2024 at 8:14 p.m.

    It's refreshing to hear that traditional AI (Articulate Intellect) still exists and in what appears to be quite some number.

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