Apr 17, 2013

Time to Get Real (Time) About Media Planning

“Set it and forget it”. No, this is not an awful infomercial about that super speedy convection oven that can cook a whole chicken in fifteen minutes; this is the attitude that media buyers have taken in the past when planning a campaign. But as the world is constantly changing, so must our thinking as media buyers.

It’s time to get real (time that is), about planning media in today’s real-time marketing world. When implemented correctly, digital media can be used a tool to conduct real-time marketing. But to be successful, there are a few things digital media buyers should never forget when using these mediums as a means of real-time marketing.

Time should never be confused with schedule

Although the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they are very different concepts in the world of media planning.

How does “time” differ from “schedule” or “flight”? Schedule is the range of dates that the campaign is planned to run. Time is what’s going on in the world during the campaign. You cannot see, control, or predict time in this sense. And unfortunately, time will not always be on your side. Time is what can make digital placements a marketing disaster or huge success. Knowing your placements and site lists are vital to the media planning process, especially if your campaign is running on volatile sites such as news and media publications.

Constant observation is your BFF.

Utilizing digital media as a function of real-time marketing can turn online display ads into a function of PR, much like social media. In time-sensitive situations, online media should be treated with the same care and strategy as social media by altering its message and, more commonly, pausing during a time of incident. This is why constant observation of your campaign and, more importantly, the world is crucial for real-time marketing.

If the timing ain’t right, don’t do it.

Just because your brand is keeping up with current events and trends, doesn’t mean it’s always appropriate to utilize real-time marketing. Media planning with a reactionary nature can be extremely beneficial if it’s implemented correctly. Don’t join a conversation just because everyone else is talking. If the timing isn’t right or appropriate for your brand, sit this one out. A vital part of real-time marketing is knowing when it’s not the best time to speak to your consumers. Should your brand decide to join a conversation, be sure to join it promptly.

It’s time to get real.

Consumers are numb to advertising. Not to ruffle any feathers (including my own), but it’s true. They want to communicate and connect with brands on a personal basis. Effective media planning for real-time marketing has a recipe. It’s 2 parts science, 2 parts art, 3 parts creativity, 2 tablespoons of caution, and one teaspoon of luck. And (to add another cliché) practice makes perfect, too. The more experience a brand has, and more importantly the stronger relationship they have with their consumers, the better and easier media planning will be in a real-time world.