FORCED MARCH 5: A Dynamic and Evolving Media Mix

By JON BROSS/Media Director

Thirty years ago, a media plan was much easier to develop than it is today. Your media options were limited, you had clear reach/conversion tactics in your arsenal for national/local applications and a few reputable research partners were tried, true and trusted. Many media buys were as simple as a TV infomercial… “Set it – and forget it!”

That same media budget today might tap over 25 points of data, as many channel touch-points and a new set of technologies that affect the delivery, placement and measurement of each and every media tactic. Media planners have evolved to be real-time stewards of their media plans, learning and adjusting to new data and analytics garnered from their plan, which has become a living, breathing data-dumping machine.

The cause of the evolution is much simpler than the solution; we as consumers have changed, and our media consumption habits continue to rapidly evolve as technology advances. To connect with audiences with more relevance and appropriate frequency, media planners must keep their finger on the pulse of the plan. To solve for clutter, fragmentation and fluctuating price in a dynamic market, media planners must be dogged stewards of their plan, watching each measurable point for efficacy.

The evolution from print to digital is a changing of the guard on many levels: client, media company or agency mindset alike.

As media planners observe a media brand’s gains and losses in their Forced March to digital, these industry changes result in daily conversations, often leading to changes in media plans. For example, a media planner might have a print ad schedule for 26 weeks planned in their daily newspaper. Things are changing so fast at newspapers, however, during those 26 weeks, a media planner may learn:

  • · The newspaper’s mobile app has garnered remarkable adoption in three months.
  • · Your preferred section in the newspaper may have been removed from the print product to online-only access.
  • · The newspaper has released premium online content at a price that is more efficient than their print offerings.
  • · Our client has added a new online conversion goal that trumps a prior goal.

There could be a lot of change to consider, for just one of the many vehicles in a media plan. Whether or not the media plan or goals will ultimately change, the media planner needs to be keenly aware of this rapidly changing landscape. This is the value that media planners bring to their clients, and if they are not constantly addressing the clients’ goals, they risk irrelevance.

Collectively, we’ve all raised the bar regarding performance and measurement. Our clients are focused on measureable results. If we have a firm digital metric or KPI (key performance indicator) to address, and the media is unable (or unwilling) to incorporate digital/mobile/social into their campaign, they may fall to the bottom of the consideration set. Without that delivery record for ROI against a digital measuring stick, it becomes less and less effective to include one-dimensional vehicles into multi-dimensional strategic recommendations. We’re finding the best results with media partners that offer an integrated sales representative, one that is well-versed on all offerings of the brand so their full portfolio is properly and thoroughly represented.

Patience, exploration and relentless focus on your audience are leading to a new mix of media for advertisers.

A fundamental goal of a media plan is to deliver a message to the most relevant audience, efficiently. How that message gets from point A to point B has more options now than ever before.

The New York Times , for example, continues to be a leading printed newspaper with more Pulitzer Prizes than any other news organization, but it has seen steady weekday circulation declines for over 20 years. The reach of a printed ad simply isn’t as strong as it used to be, in this example. However, their content and focus in reaching their readers via emerging platforms keeps them in the top tier of consideration for media planners looking to mobile, tablet, online desktop and social media consumers.

The New York Times has also erected a pay wall to monetize the shifting consumer preference, weighing the gains and losses carefully between ad revenue and circulation. In April, they tightened their metered model from 20 to 10 free articles a month, and unique visitors to the website have dropped 16% to 25.9 million in September from 30.8 million in March, according to comScore. A New York Times spokesperson said that the public data provided by comScore doesn’t account for readers’ migration across platforms and that the company isn’t concerned about a decline in traffic because of the tightened pay wall. This is a key consideration for a media planner – your message can still reach 100% of the desired audience, but the path from point A to point B may now include the use of multiple channels.

Will a pay wall alone dissuade or change a consumer’s interaction with a brand? Most likely, yes, but other efforts made by that brand’s evolution also have impact. An April e-marketer study shows that 52% of respondents will “immediately leave the website” upon encountering a pay wall; however, 42% will also explore the price and consider purchase. The consumer will continue to make a choice, and the marketer or agency must consider how and why this change is relevant. A completely separate tactic may affect another goal for the publisher, like The Washington Post offering a new migratory path to digital in their release of The Fold.

The media planner’s role of evaluating the most appropriate medium and vehicle for their client hasn’t changed; it has simply increased with the volume of appropriate and relevant options. Using multiple channels to reach an audience offers different levels of engagement and interactivity. While an audience may still be a loyalist of The New York Times brand – how they interact and engage with the content via various platforms will vary, and may affect different goals within the campaign.

How is the Forced March to Digital changing your media campaigns? If you can answer that, thank you for engaging and understanding this evolution already upon us. If you’re unsure, drop us a line at VJ through your preferred channel, and let’s chat.

About the Series

The transformation of the newspaper industry not only affects readers and communities, it throws several wrenches into a tremendously successful advertising business model.

VJ has done extensive research and economic projections to examine where this is going. Our embedded philosophy – Truth Creates Opportunity™ – drove us to add some finer textures and clarity to issues that, for much of the industry, have remained vague, scary and undefined.

Exactly what does the evolving content infrastructure mean to agencies, their clients and consumers? We plan to spell that out in a series of white papers produced by our agency that will place these issues into meaningful and useful perspectives.

Read the whole series.

About Vladimir Jones

VJ is a full-service ad agency dedicated to one simple, powerful idea: Truth Creates Opportunity™. Good or bad, the truth of your brand is the truth of your customers and the culture in which they interact. To identify the truth takes insight, creativity, engagement, guts and metrics. Like all things worth finding, we pursue the truth with ravenous persistence. Once found, it is power. The power to connect. To influence. To inform. To humor. Incite. Engage. Convert. Like your mother always said, tell the truth and good things happen.