In me­dia plan­ning dis­cus­sions, are too many num­bers and too much data ac­tu­ally a chal­lenge or an in­put for the mar­keter? We at­tempt to find the an­swer


Af­ter a long day’s work, while surf­ing through Tele­vi­sion chan­nels, I came across this ad­ver­tise­ment that had a baby cry­ing and a mother rush­ing to com­fort her. I de­vel­oped an in­stant affin­ity to­wards the brand. Soon, I shifted fo­cus to my phone to check on­line news sites, and ended up see­ing the same ad­ver­tise­ment there too. I then de­cided to check my posts on Face­book and saw a spon­sored ad­vert of the same brand! Think­ing about the me­dia plan be­hind this par­tic­u­lar brand and sharp con­sumer fo­cus, I started go­ing through the posts, hop­ing to see some­thing in­ter­est­ing. It was then that I stum­bled upon this post by the Global Chief Strat­egy Of­fi­cer of Mind­share FAST, Gowthaman Ragothaman, aka G’Man, in agency cir­cles:

“Af­ter a long drawn pre­sen­ta­tion on data, tech­nol­ogy, stack, in­te­gra­tion, col­lab­o­ra­tion, con­nec­tion, pri­vacy, iden­ti­ties, plat­forms, en­gage­ment, con­tent, viewa­bil­ity, safety, al­go­rithms, gar­dens, reach, cap­ping, di­min­ish­ing re­turns, ROI, at­tri­bu­tion, jour­ney, dy­namic cre­atives and a few more...My dear friend from the client side asked me...Yea sab teek hai... ‘Where is the me­dia plan?’

More of­ten than not, com­plex prob­lems are solved through sim­ple ques­tions!”

Gowthaman read­ily ex­plained the con­text be­hind his post: “In a me­dia plan, as the con­sumer jour­ney is frag­mented across var­i­ous plat­forms (and the walled gar­dens), the me­dia agency has no choice but to ex­plain in de­tail about the reach, and how we are reach­ing them and how it is mea­sured (of­ten in­flu­enced by tech­nol­ogy) and that is where the time is be­ing spent rather than on the out­come it­self.”

He noted that me­dia agen­cies are caught across two forces to­day, namely, 1.Tech­no­log­i­cal dis­rup­tions and the in­flu­ence of VCs spoil­ing the mar­ket with in­sane in­vest­ments on medi­ocre prod­ucts.

2. Mar­ket­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions com­ing to terms with a much tighter col­lab­o­ra­tion in­side their own com­pany with in­sights, tech­nol­ogy and sales di­vi­sions.


We are per­haps on the thresh­old of change in the struc­ture of the mar­ket­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing ecosys­tem, thanks to tech­no­log­i­cal dis­rup­tions and data – yes, an over­abun­dance of data. Me­dia plan­ning is no longer about a prob­a­bilis­tic to de­ter­min­is­tic mind­set and ap­proach; no longer about mul­ti­me­dia but multi-de­vice; no longer about just one per­son at the client side but about a mar­ket­ing head, a tech­nol­o­gist, an in­sights guy, a ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist, all for and against each other and yes, it is no longer about the evolv­ing dig­i­tal me­dia, it is about the new nor­mal, dig­i­tal dis­rup­tion.

Here, we dive into fac­tors that are in­flu­enc­ing the me­dia plan­ning dis­cus­sions to­day, and whether too many num­bers and data is ac­tu­ally a chal­lenge or an in­put for the mar­keter. And in all this, what is the mar­keter’s view­point? Ul­ti­mately, what does the mar­keter want? (See ‘Are mar­keters get­ting lost in num­bers?’ on Page 17)


“The 70:20:10 prin­ci­ple is in­flu­enc­ing me­dia plan dis­cus­sions the most - 70% of re­sources are spent on tried and tested plans that build brands; 20% are ar­eas of in­no­va­tion and ex­per­i­men­ta­tion and 10% are out of the box ideas. Data is now en­ter­ing the 20% and tech dis­rup­tions are cur­rently the 10%,” says Vikram Sakhuja, Group Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer - Me­dia and OOH, Madi­son Com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

“As far as me­dia agen­cies are con­cerned, we were al­ways in the num­bers game. The num­bers can be his­toric or real time data. The im­por­tant thing is to op­er­ate from first prin­ci­ples and form the right hy­pothe­ses that you val­i­date or nul­lify with data. Us­ing data as a shiny new toy per se is miss­ing the point,” he adds.

Dig­i­tal is the pre­ferred con­sid­er­a­tion for mar­keters for its tar­geted reach, cost ef­fi­cien­cies and mea­sur­a­bil­ity. The quan­tum of ex­ist­ing and gen­er­ated data has mul­ti­plier ef­fect mak­ing it more com­pli­cated for ev­ery­one, not just agen­cies. Yet,

data’s abil­ity to gather in­for­ma­tion from the au­di­ence, pre­vi­ous pref­er­ences, an­a­lyt­ics and build pre­dic­tive al­go­rithms gives the mar­keter an un­doubtable edge when rich data is culled from the data dump.

Me­dia agen­cies have, in fact, pushed dig­i­tal to the fore­front. Fur­ther, they have in­vested in in­fra­struc­ture, plat­forms, re­sources and learn­ing. Mar­keters call for and need me­dia agen­cies to sift through this data.

“Dur­ing a plan, both mar­keter and agency have the ten­dency to latch onto trends – pro­gram­matic, in­flu­encers, con­tent mar­ket­ing and the like. Cog­ni­tive is the lat­est buzz­word. Also, now it is not only about reach, views and clicks but view­ablil­ity, leads, con­ver­sions and sales,” says Anita Nay­yar, CEO-In­dia & South Asia, Havas Me­dia Group.

In or­der to nav­i­gate this ever-chang­ing ecosys­tem, brands have to think of in­te­grated so­lu­tions that seam­lessly cut across the key touch­points for the con­sumer. “Brands need to adopt non-lin­ear think­ing where each dis­ci­pline builds on the idea vs one dis­ci­pline lead­ing this – Tough but ideal. And such so­lu­tions when backed with the right tech cre­ate brand ex­pe­ri­ences for the con­sumer and pref­er­ences for the brands,” ex­plains Sulina Menon, Man­ag­ing Part­ner, Om­ni­com Me­dia Group.

The chal­lenge is big­ger in In­dia, given the di­ver­sity and dif­fer­en­tial ac­cess to me­dia and In­ter­net (3G/2G, smart­phone, fea­ture phone). “We need to craft ex­pe­ri­ences that de­liver for brands, tak­ing this as­pect into ac­count. To de­liver re­sults, un­der­stand­ing the ever-shift­ing trends is key and must be vis­ited reg­u­larly. So­cial lis­ten­ing, data min­ing, CRM, DMPs be­come im­por­tant sources to un­der­stand the con­sumer be­hav­iour and con­text,” says Menon.


The en­tire me­dia plan dis­cus­sion has now moved from me­dia met­rics to out­come met­rics. “Pro­gram­matic plan­ning is where mar­keters are try­ing to un­der­stand and stream­line plans in real time. Pro­gram­matic de­ploy­ment is it­self adding to this whole data im­mer­sion. While

“In a me­dia plan, as the con­sumer jour­ney is frag­mented across var­i­ous plat­forms (and the walled gar­dens), the me­dia agency has no choice but to ex­plain in de­tail about the reach, and how we are reach­ing them and how it is mea­sured (of­ten in­flu­enced by tech­nol­ogy) and that is where the time is be­ing spent rather than on the

out­come it­self.” GOWTHAMAN RAGOTHAMAN

tra­di­tional me­dia con­tin­ues to move at a cer­tain pace, the evolv­ing dig­i­tal me­dia is the new nor­mal,” says Shavon Barua, Man­ag­ing Part­ner, PHD World­wide In­dia.

Tra­di­tion­ally, a me­dia plan­ner works to en­sure that an au­di­ence sees an ad­ver­tise­ment be­tween 3-8 times (less than three views is a waste and up­wards of eight times is also con­sid­ered waste), de­pend­ing on the ad or the prod­uct. And this query is checked ev­ery Thurs­day morn­ing when the Broad­cast Au­di­ence Re­search Coun­cil (BARC) In­dia data comes in. How­ever, now the con­sumer may have seen the ad only once on Tele­vi­sion, but may have seen it thrice on Face­book or YouTube.

“At Dentsu Aegis Net­work, we are mov­ing away from Tele­vi­sion plan­ning to video plan­ning. Be­cause you have to ac­count for the fact that there is a high level of ex­po­sure on dig­i­tal as well,” ex­plains Ashish Bhasin, Chair­man and Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of Dentsu Aegis Net­work South Asia

“Dig­i­tal and data to­day help you re­duce the gap of ad­ver­tis­ing wastage and gives a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the con­sumer. Data is go­ing to be the new oil of ad­ver­tis­ing, be­cause that is what will drive ef­fi­ciency,” says Bhasin.


Not just me­dia plan­ning but the en­tire ad­ver­tis­ing ap­proach needs a change, from the agency end as well as at the client end, says Bhasin. He fur­ther ex­plains that go­ing for­ward, agen­cies will have to adapt to one P&L (Profit &Loss). “Ba­si­cally there are no si­los. Your or­ga­ni­za­tion will have to bring the spe­cial­ist agency for the brand de­pend­ing on the need,” he says.

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