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

" /> In media planning discussions, are too many numbers and too much data actually a challenge or an input for the marketer? IMPACT attempts to find the answer

"/> In media planning discussions, are too many numbers and too much data actually a challenge or an input for the marketer? IMPACT attempts to find the answer



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

25 Sep, 2017 by admin

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


By Dipali Banka


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 multi-media 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?



“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 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. 



“Half the money I spend on advertising is being wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half,” John Wanamaker, father of modern advertising and a pioneer in marketing once said.  This anecdote probably lost its relevance about five years ago, since digital advertising streamed in. Now with the allocation of impression based on real time market dynamics, the question is not whether your spends are working for you or not but about the ability to shift spending on a media plan on a real time basis.  Are technological disruptions making a marketing head’s job tougher? Which other factors are influencing a media plan discussion today? Marketers today have access to consumer data, e-commerce data, sales data and a lot more, are they getting lost in the number game or are they making the most of it? What is the way forward? How does this marketing eco-system adapt itself to the new normal?


By Dipali Banka, Samarpita Banerjee and Simran Sabherwal


On resources & marketing: The resources within the marketing team today have also increased with changing times and technologies. Understanding the consumer is the core philosophy that remains unchanged. Media resources have to be focused on where the consumer is. In fact, the feedback dimension in communication has just begun with emergence of stronger social media. Otherwise, advertising historically was just one-way messaging from brand to consumer.

On abundance of data: The objectivity that data brings in, adds a lot of value to decision-making and evaluation. In fact, data helps one find the way, rather than getting lost. Speed is the essence and this is what marketers need to adjust to.


On technology and marketing: Technology is now the mainstream thing to do. Very soon, you will find the word ‘technology’ itself disappear. Like, we used to call electrical kettles, and electric stoves, and electrical iron. And now we don’t call them electric anymore. Similarly, I think the digital and connected and technology, all these words will disappear because we will accept them as mainstream.


On getting lost in numbers: It is wrong to abdicate the study of data to data scientists, because once you have all the data, you put it all together in some meaningful patterns and regressions. And after that it takes a deep psychological mindset and skill to be able to read the data and source out the human insights from the data. And that is still only a marketer’s job. So, I don’t think the marketer should be overwhelmed by data; in fact the marketer should step back and see what big picture the data is telling, and be able to come up with brand ideas, product ideas, service ideas and communication ideas from that.


On the challenge of new technologies: All the disruption that’s happening, especially on the technology front, is a challenge for marketers like us because we do not move completely from one to another. Things keep getting added. Technology keeps adding up, but does not replace older technologies, especially in India. Print and Television don’t go away. Newer technologies keep coming in. We have to keep experimenting. Some of the brands are much quicker when it comes to adopting new technologies and experimenting. Other brands take longer. The message here is that, we can’t do away with it, we have to get on the bandwagon and try out new things, and also keep monitoring how customers are reacting to it. We have to experiment and we have to move forward.


On integration in the marketer’s team: A lot of times it happens, and that works both ways actually. Sometimes marketers have to coach and guide the other teams to adopt technologies and understand technologies, sometimes it comes from the other teams to us also. So, it is a two-way process, and we can’t work in isolation, we all have to work together, understand, appreciate and work towards it.


On technological disruptions in media: For differentiated and sharply segmented brands like Vespa and Aprilia, technology lends a big helping hand, segregating the media for sharper targeting to the target group. Technology is also helping media spill over control on the geographical coverage, possibly geographical media selection, and giving better on Return on Investment. Today you can know your customer behaviour beforehand due to technological progress and create specific customized messaging.


On abundance of data: The big data, if put to use appropriately, is going to help in better ROI and effective reach. Data can give you detailed analysis about your target group behaviour, how your past approach has worked, reaching your target group and what best approach you can take ahead, if the ecosystem is using the right tools and making the best use of analytics with the big data on hand. As long as your goal is to learn about consumer behaviour, segregate and sharply reach your TG, data will always be very helpful. 


On technology and data: There are two things here, one, technology is helping us get down to the bottom and understand where we are selling, the population, target audience, cities, etc. There is a lot of transparency now and it is a big advantage and making marketing more interesting and effective. In terms of marketing, it is not only helping in digital and social media, but helping us take effective decisions in using traditional media. For example, earlier we had a general outlook on Diwali and Pujo marketing activities. But now, we actually devise communication based on the need of that region, thus making it more effective.


On getting lost with data: One needs to stay focused on what one wants to achieve, and go step by step. First identify what is effective and only work with that. If one tries to accumulate too much data, one is likely to get lost.


On numbers & the media plan: Agencies show you two kinds of numbers - either the numbers of their track record in case it is good, and if it is not great, they show the future landscape – Internet penetration, telephony, data, etc. But when we sit as an investor in media, we are slightly confused with those numbers and the allocation of spends across mediums. Because, you don’t want to spread yourself too thin and also want a good return on your investment.


On parking money on digital: Parking money on traditional media is straightforward. But in digital, since it is still evolving, it is difficult to allocate your spends. There are certain smaller buckets in the new age mediums that have evolved. It becomes difficult for a marketer to park money on 3-4 platforms. New platforms keep emerging and by the time you plan something, a newer platform emerges. Once this medium matures over a period of time, things should be a lot easier.


On technological disruptions & marketing: Technology is allowing us marketers to create personalized relationships at scale. This was not possible earlier. Earlier it would have been mass marketing, and companies have done it over so many decades now. Today technology is allowing us to marry personalization with large numbers. And therefore from a media planning perspective, the entire discussion has now moved from media metrics to outcome metrics. Which is, what are my brand and business ethics and how are they progressing as a result of the marketing interventions that are being done?


On too many heads on the marketer’s side: The first thing which does not change, whether 10 years ago or now, is that the marketer needs to be closest to the consumer. So, the consumer understanding of the marketer, which is outward facing, needs to be very high. The second thing is to have a very clear sense of what each person on the table is bringing in, for technology, an internal big data person, etc. and join the dots. And the third thing is influence so that the team works seamlessly in terms of creating a single brief for the agency. So the marketer is literally the person who joins the dots in the organization.


On technological disruptions: Technological disruptions may make the situation complex, but they are helping in taking much more informed decisions. There is lot of data available from market intelligence, internal sales data, consumer research data, etc. It’s important to understand how to integrate the data from various sources and how the insights should be actioned. Insights from these data sources are really the key in media planning today.


On overabundance of data: As long as one is clear about which data is used for what objective, I don’t really see a possibility of getting lost in numbers. Every data does not lead to media strategy. The data may throw challenges to the marketing team, which may call for action, as varied as channel adequacy, product offerings, capability building and so on. For example, a drop in market share in a particular market may be due to drop in counter-share and that may be due to entry of a new brand with better product offering.


On technological disruptions making the job tougher: In fact, it’s giving marketers nightmares, because technology is actually redefining the landscape of the industry. You don’t expect brands that were never in the category to come and disrupt the market. And therefore mature brands have to actually keep inventing and reinventing every day, because you never know who is going to come and disrupt your share in the market place.


On overabundance of data: Are we getting lost in numbers?  Yes and no. Because data is helping marketers get a better, strong foothold on the way consumers interact with their brands, and engage with the brands. At the same time, there is so much data that it is not really being used. Therefore, companies in the space of data analytics actually having a bigger and better role to play in today’s context.



On challenge of abundance of data: Yes, there are a lot of data points available to us today. The big challenge is to interpret the data in the correct format. So, brands also need to work along with the agencies as partners on this. There has to be more of an integrated approach. And within agencies also, over the last 5-7 years, it’s not only one agency that is doing it, there are multiple agencies in the same network. So everything needs to be integrated.


On data & the agency: Brands need to be open with their agency. Brands have to share data with their agency and then only they can ask for a certain input from them. So, things cannot just be on one side of the table. From the first perspective, my actual work starts at the time of the brief itself. If my brief is not correct, how can I ask the agency to give an output which is going to be fruitful for me?


On technology and media plan: Marketing has evolved over the years. The way a marketing head thinks and operates today is quite different from even a decade ago. At the crux of this change is technology and understanding its impact on consumer behaviour is integral to any marketing plan. Precisely for this reason, along with traditional platforms, digital marketing has to be part of any media plan. While digital marketing has emerged as a strong engine for customer trials and acquisitions, analytics, on the other hand, is helping in targeted marketing of specific solutions. Analytics helps marketing get more personalized rather than rely only on mass media for brand building. 


 On data & marketing eco-system: Loads of data can sometimes confuse marketing teams but by using appropriate analytical tools, it’s the most powerful way to understand consumer behaviour and trends. Data helps to lift the veil and make the campaign more realistic. The way forward is to adapt to this technological change to gather consumer insights, thereby help sharpen the marketing plan. The marketing ecosystem can adapt to this change by incorporating emerging trends into the organizational culture and bring the power of technology into regular operations involving every department. 


On new technology and media: Technology has not only made businesses more productive but has also empowered consumers. Marketers constantly need to create opportunities to stay ahead of the competition and deal with disruption in a strategic manner. Media has now become a more measurable tool than ever before, enabling us to derive granular performances, quantify the effectiveness of a campaign and ensure synergies between consumer requirements and communication. A relentless urge to deliver something personalized, unique and highly relevant to the consumers definitely makes a marketer’s job more interesting. Media help in this aspect, by giving a marketer deep insights into consumer behaviour on the basis of which targeted outreach is developed.


On abundance of numbers and brand: We follow a digital first approach and being in an e-commerce ecosystem, it is important for us to understand the customer’s behaviour pattern and therefore, sharp data crunching and analysis is a key requirement. As e-commerce is a highly data-oriented ecosystem, it naturally provides granular customer data and behaviour indicators. We derive interesting insights about the behaviour patterns of consumers across all channels and stores, which helps create a more refined and strategized plan that is bespoke in nature right from ideation to execution. For this, have a very strong analytical vertical which plots every data point and customer behaviour pattern to understand the mind space of a consumer.


On factors influencing a media plan discussion: Consumers are getting more and more isolated from a media standpoint. They are not consuming regular forms of media as they were doing five years back. So, the task at hand for all marketers is that what are the newer available sources of media? What’s the cost per reach for this media? How can I contextually deliver a message which is much more effective? And then compare it with all our traditional forms of media to decide as to what should be the path of your brand.


On way forward for brands: The way forward for brands remains the same, you have to do the key things right, which is to create brand love, which is to have a purposeful brand, which is to create communication that is loved by one and all. And if you do these things right, also you have to be constantly innovating. If you do all these four things right, you can rest assured that you will have a brand which is not only doing well today but it will have a recurring impact in future.             


On factors influencing media plan: There are so many choices now, and all of them are evolving. Earlier it was very simple, you just had the traditional media and it was so easy to draw up a plan. Today digital is becoming more important. You have got outdoors which is becoming much more organized. You have got magazines which are giving you so many different niches. And you have to see how you can use these different opportunities which are coming your way. Not very easy, but it’s the right time to be a marketer, because you can reach your very diverse kind of audiences living in the most fragmented manner, very easily.


On creative hindrance: The way forward for marketing is about using different media solutions that we have to the core. The problem which comes with so much of fragmentation and so many opportunities, the creative solutions that are there become a hindrance at times because that’s where there is still a stagnation or limitation. So there’s a little bit of concern - how do I make so many creative stories as my audience of today?


Feedback: Category: Impact Feature Volume No: 14 Issue No: 16













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