Published On: 03/24/2014

I Stock _000027364613SmallBeing a media planner today is a lot more complicated than it’s ever been in the past – programmatic buying, RTB, DSP, Big Data – the jargon alone is enough to drive a traditional media planner mad. The good news is traditional media planners no longer exist, so we don’t have to worry about confusing them. Any media planner that has survived the media boom and economic bust of the last five years can no longer be considered “traditional”. No matter how complicated it gets, the goal is always the same.

At its core media planning hasn’t changed. It’s still about maximizing ROI and getting a message in front of the right audience at the right time. It’s the methods that have changed, and quite drastically. In the past, evaluating media was simple. Print, radio, TV and out-of-home each had their strengths and weaknesses; and a media planner could make decisions based on traditional methods of audience measurement. Today, audience measurement and segmentation have become so advanced it’s no longer a simple equation of reach and frequency. Today’s media planner has resources far beyond reach and frequency. Two of the most important elements of a modern media plan are the data that inform it, and the tools that facilitate its execution.

We live in a data-driven world, and media is no exception. Data can and should empower planners to deliver more informed recommendations. Advanced audience segmentation means advertisers can target their message far better than simply, “women 25-54”. Data has become crucial in developing consumer profiles.

Data also allows advertisers to get a better idea of how effective a campaign is. Legendary retailer and marketing pioneer John Wanamaker once said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Sadly, that was true for a very long time. Data-driven targeting leads to improved efficiency and back-end analytics take a lot of the guesswork out of media planning.

When it comes to executing a digital campaign, the modern media planner is faced with an entirely new set of options. According to eMarketer, advertisers in the U.S. will spend $4.6 billion on real time bidding (RTB) this year, a method of media buying that didn’t even exist five years ago. And that’s only one element of the programmatic buying that’s become so pervasive. Some would say this type of automation, with decisions being made in milliseconds, has the potential to render the media planner obsolete. In reality, these tools are just another way to enhance the media planning process. Without a well thought out strategy, RTB is just a fancy equation.

For all the data and algorithms in modern media planning, nothing can replace a well thought out strategy. Modern advancements only serve to enhance what advertisers have been trying to do for over a century. Media planning may be a lot more focused, efficient and effective than ever before. But the end goal will always remain the same, to maximize ROI and deliver a message to the right audience at the right time.