Historically, media planning focused strictly on the numbers – GRPs, circulation, impressions, clicks. The foundation of every media plan was an advertising reach and frequency and each opportunity was measured by its ability to achieve these goals. It is true that many top marketers still consider reach the number one criteria when developing media plans. However, this mentality does not reflect the new media environment in which consumers are participating. At the risk of sounding redundant, consumers are in control and they are dictating how they want to receive messaging.

Thirty years ago, the average American received 560 daily advertising messages. Today, the number is over 3,500. New tactics are needed to provide a more effective marketing mix. The old ways of determining which media will result in a successful campaign are not as definitive as they used to be. Today, intuition plays a larger role in media planning and buying. Much like creative shops have done, media professionals need to go beyond research in order to communicate with consumers. They need to step outside the box, adopting a creative mentality.

Molding the Creative Mentality
Media departments are usually the go-to resource for research. Media planners and buyers are expected to know the brand, the audience, and how to best reach consumers. This foundation is exactly what poises the media department to think creatively. The next step is going beyond well-adopted planning approaches and established audience metrics to truly initiate conversations with consumers.

How many times has a brand identified its most valuable customer as the loyal one who purchases many and often? Does the 80/20 rule sound familiar? (About 80% of a brand’s business comes from 20% of its customers.) Today, it is wise to remember that customers who buy less, but are well-connected, are equally important. Those who contribute to blogs, write online product reviews, and speak favorably of the brand can wield influence over many others. The old marketing funnel in which broad reach converts some people into loyal customers flies out the window. Contemporary media planners would be well-served to remember that in a cluttered world of options, potential customers can choose to engage with the brand, or not. The goal becomes to connect with those consumers who are raising their hands, ready to interact.

Implementing the Creative Mentality
There are several challenges in adopting a creative mentality when it comes to media. First, the consumer is becoming harder to reach. Especially in today’s economic climate, consumers are spending more time at home with technology that allows for avoidance of advertising altogether. Next, marketers are expecting ROI measurements that provide insight into the effectiveness of advertising campaigns. Fortunately, new technologies and increasingly open discussions with media vendors are providing ways to overcome these challenges. New methods of connecting with consumers are being created. For instance, Dove Body Wash ran a series of commercials during “The Hills” on MTV which revolved around the lives of three roommates living in New York City. These ads retained 93% of the show’s audience, as compared to an 85% retention rate for regular commercial pods. Better measurement tools such as commercial ratings are also allowing advertisers to know precisely how campaigns are delivering on goals. Enhancements such as these will only improve as time progresses, offering solutions for existing challenges.

In the here and now, adopting a media neutral philosophy is a critical step in implementing the creative mentality. Media planners and buyers need to approach every client, every brand and every campaign with fresh eyes, evaluating each in its own environment. Attentiveness to brand goals and objectives, as well as audience, must continue, but every avenue of communication should be explored in determining the optimum campaign mix.

Embracing the Creative Mentality
Taking a creative approach to media sounds easy enough, but the devil is in the details. To implement correctly, the media function needs to be incorporated into the campaign development process from the very beginning. Lead times are usually limiting and can pose a real challenge to doing this. Also, true collaboration across multiple functions can be tricky, but is necessary. While media can deliver the appropriate audience in engaging vehicles, campaigns must also have effective messaging to be successful. With stronger collaboration, synergy can be accomplished, resulting in improved campaign performance.

When creative and media come together seamlessly, consumers notice and advertisers are rewarded. Relevant messaging in engaging media environments break through the clutter, meaning that advertising dollars are used more effectively. The end result is higher recall and an increase in actions taken. Rolex provides an excellent example of synergistic effects. The high-end watch brand ran several ads in a golf publication. When using its general branding ad, consumer recall was at 43% (as compared to 53% for the category). When Rolex tailored the ad to reflect a golfing message, the recall number jumped to 65%. As this example shows, the creative mentality translates into relevant, more impactful communication with consumers.

MayoSeitz Media’s Point-of-View
Advertising relevancy is the universal goal, but it is extremely difficult to achieve among consumers today. Engagement helps to erase the line between the medium and the ad and can be created, in part, via media selection. Media vehicles can deliver a suitable audience and attract consumers’ attention, but media can’t create engagement all by itself. All partners – creative, media, promotions, etc. – need to have a common vision and collaborate with each other throughout the campaign development process. Moving media to the forefront of this process and adopting a creative mentality throughout will be beneficial in terms of developing more effective campaigns. Consumer connections, brand interactions and participation are the by-products, and we believe these are worth the extra effort.