7 best practices for digital media planning

Over at  iMedia Connection Jim Meskauskas  recently tackled a timely and very relevant topic. How can we media plan for an uncertain digital future?

Jim sets the tone by referencing a famous Oscar Wilde quote:

“Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.”

He goes on to say that the digital media landscape changes nearly as often, if not even more frequently -though not because of ugliness. Jim asks several probing, yet very real questions that media planners must consider. 

“How does one put together a long-term digital media plan that is consistent and relevant in the face of constant change? Or for that matter, even executable? Should agencies even put together long-range media campaigns for online?”

To me, the answer is simple. Absolutely yes, it can and should be done. But I think the main question should actually be, “Does digital planning fit for the goals of the campaign and the clients’ business needs?”

Jim suggests a few best practices for media buyers, one of which doesn’t convince me. To ensure stability within long-term plans, he recommends using only metered properties, such as sites that rank high with comScore. I respectfully disagree.

After all, there may be some digital properties that don’t rank high but are much more targeted and relevant for the audience that the client is trying to reach. My advice instead would be to focus on the audience that is the most relevant to the goal of the campaign, and then use a tool like SRDS to find the digital media properties that fit best.

Yes, it’s true that when planning for digital, you should have a toolbox of back-up plans when it comes to optimizing. But limiting your planning to only the top sites that appear in common research tools isn’t always the best way to deliver top results to the client.

My recommendation is to stick with three plans, which include digital properties relevant to the audiences you’ve identified. That’s where research and audience targeting really come into play.

After all, there’s no reason to fear digital if you’ve done your homework. Smart planning, smart targeting, as well as relevant and powerful creative are your best tools to fight the fear.

Here are my seven best practices for digital media planning:

  1. Identify where your targeted audience engages in the digital landscape. Use research tools and relationships with digital properties to find them to the best of your ability.
  2. Develop three plans: your campaign launch plan, your optimization plan and your site change plan.
  3. Craft a strong creative message with plenty of back-up creative to allow for optimization.
  4. Execute and use the power of digital with inventive features like frequency caps, retargeting, social and mobile.
  5. Once you’ve launched your campaign, use the power of digital tracking to optimize, daily if necessary, depending on the campaign goals.
  6. Ensure that the message is clear across all channels. Know clearly what your goals are and help your target get to the jackpot at the end of the rainbow when your campaign is successful.
  7. Be sure your client can be found on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and of course on their own destination page. Just because a target doesn’t click on the ad, if they do see it, they still may remember the message.

While I do have some tactical disagreements with Jim, philosophically we agree. Jim states, “Manage the future by controlling the present.” Yes, use the tools you have available to control your risk. Use your out clauses - any publisher expects there to be an out clause. But always do your homework!

Digital is rapidly changing. However it’s no longer a new media channel. Remember, embrace the fundamentals and the amazing tracking technology to control the campaign, and ultimately the result.

Happy planning!

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