A formulaic approach to media planning can lead to brands missing out on potential growth opportunities, according to an industry figure, who argues that planners need to get out of their comfort zone.

It may sometimes seem like media planning is now simply a case of applying the learnings of Professor Byron Sharp, or the advice of Les Binet and Peter Field, combined with some targeted programmatic activity.

“You might be under the impression that media planning in 2019 is super-easy [and] that my job is a doddle,” said Mike Deane, chief strategy officer at MediaCom AUNZ, a unit of WPP Group. “Because, broadly, you’re using the same research points, and the same starting datapoints, to inform your media decision-making.”

But the costs of this homogenisation, he explained at the recent Advertising Week APAC conference in Sydney, are potentially high.

“If you truly believe in effectiveness, and as your largest investment in marketing, media must drive competitive advantage,” Deane said.

“But how do we do that when it’s so formulaic? We need to look to new areas of growth, and it will come from uncomfortable places.” (For more read WARC’s report: How to move media strategies beyond Binet, Field and Sharp.)

These places include:
  • Unfamiliar consumers
  • Untapped contexts
  • Unifying cultural properties
While traditional targeting was built on the “laudable principles of right time, right place, right person and common sense, it was often accidentally ignoring valuable audiences”, Deane said.“Even worse, it was guilty of ignoring the now established growth principles that were first put forward by Andrew Ehrenberg as early as the 1950s and developed more recently by Byron Sharp.”

Targeting may have lost its lustre of late, but Deane believes that it still plays an important role in reaching out to “unfamiliar consumers”, as further elucidated in a quote by Professor Sharp:

“Sophisticated mass marketing doesn’t mean targeting everyone, nor does it mean treating everyone the same. It means understanding the heterogeneity in your market, and then catering for only the differences that matter in order to maximise reach while not eliminating the benefits of scale.”

That proposition sums up the key role for media planners in 2019, according to Deane: namely, to understand consumer heterogeneity – and delineate the differences that matter.

Sourced from WARC