Telmar News & Insights

Things have changed: Media and Campaign Planning Strategies to bounce back in 2021

March 25, 2021

media planning tools telmarThe message is simple, and one we’ll all have heard many times by now: things have changed, and if you’re still planning your media how you were this time last year, you’re going to get left behind!

In 2020, norms for media planning and marketing were completely reset. This year, with consumer habits changing and technology advances continuing to accelerate, media planners need to adjust to the current landscape if they’re to be successful.

The depth and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic have caused seismic shifts that won’t be undone in a hurry (if at all). But it’s also forced marketers to get up to speed with big data; as consumers move more and more online, the data generated can help media planners understand their evolved consumer. Big data sets, however, can be extremely overwhelming based on the amount of information they contain. Using solutions that facilitate finding those ‘golden nuggets’ in data, is imperative, as media teams need to respond even faster to the ever-evolving consumer.

With that in mind, here’s a list of five strategies to consider in 2021, and while data is the key buzzword, it’s crucial to remember that keeping the target group at the heart of your media plan remains the best route to success.

1. D2C re-imagined

Strategists and Media planners are going to need to develop an agile and efficient omnichannel presence that re-imagines the direct-to-consumer model.

This can be done by going beyond ‘upper-funnel’ activities, using data to activate and engage customers across social media and leveraging influencers alongside community-powered e-commerce platforms during promotion periods.

The aim here is to diversify between channels to find the right customer experience, considering new primary avenues for driving awareness, consideration and reputation.

D2C has always been about providing a more direct, personalized approach to appeal to consumers. Now, in an always-on world, media planners must get their finger on the button of where and how customers are consuming their media, and this means digging deeper than just demographics. Understanding the attitudes and opinions of consumers will uncover insights into why consumers make certain purchasing decisions strengthening the D2C strategic media recommendations

2. Infused analytics

While 2021 could be a year of recovery for many, it also has the potential to be a year of growth.

However, in order to unlock that potential, strategists and media planners need to track the ongoing changes occurring not just in economic conditions but in buying behavior, consumer needs and new ways of evaluating brands.

If you’re trying to achieve all of this on a slimmed-down budget, we suggest ramping up your use of analytics. Harnessing data and analyzing it for insights into market conditions and consumer needs can help to drive optimal investments that will deliver great value in the long term, as well as immediate short-term wins.

Additionally, analytics that dig deeper into large data sets are imperative. Above and beyond demographic and media consumption, analytics can help to provide measurement, certification and optimization of creative content before it airs, and more advanced analytics tools will help determine strategic investment decisions.

3. Action to activism

Brand purpose activities moved up several notches in 2020. Consumers wanted to see evidence of brands with empathy and humanity in tough times, and that’s a trend that will continue through 2021 and beyond. A survey by Censuswide revealed that two-thirds of consumers say that having shared values is crucial to brand loyalty, and that number will most likely continue to rise.

Political-media agendas have led to a rise in advertiser boycotts, and brands seeking to differentiate themselves in a saturated market have been engaging more with public policy and social issues.

For media planners, this means applying campaigns consistently with what the brand claims as its core purpose. Consider how social platforms with a critical audience mass can support your brand activism agenda, selecting channel mixes and using influencers that align with your values. For media experts, this means that in order to access information on consumer values and passion points, a syndicated media survey may not have enough information. Data integration between standard surveys and consumers values and opinion surveys will become the norm for successful brand strategies

4. Adapting to a cookieless world

The ability to track and target digital media via third-party cookies is coming to an end. Up until now, cookies have performed a vital role in measuring ad effectiveness and granular targeting of media campaigns.

In a cookieless world, media planners will have to adapt. Unfortunately, there’s no simple, off-the-shelf alternative ready right now. However, there are ways to maintain a full view of your campaign effectiveness.

Direct integration with publishers and distributors can facilitate the gathering of key data in a privacy-compliant way, while validated probabilistic and analytics-based modelling will fill in any gaps these partnerships don’t cover.

The Drum anticipates a rise in other alternatives to targeting, including contextual targeting and unique identifiers. You could use either of these strategies to help with your media planning strategy in 2021, but keep an eye out for how trends like these change, and which cookie alternatives rise to the fore.

5. Social media focus

Social media is now at the center of how we consume information. Even if users tend to mistrust news and communications they see in social media, the continuing value of social media to advertisers can’t be underestimated.

Emerging digital platforms are going to continue gaining more importance within wide communications strategies. As we mentioned before, choosing the right channel mixes and engaging appropriate influencers will be key to this.

In addition, media strategists and planners must consider the impact of integrated, connected views across all channels and seek to break down internal silos to reflect this omnichannel reality. Cross-media reach and frequency solutions are imperative in understanding this impact and will also provide a holistic ROI view of omnichannel campaigns.


As 2021 unfolds, there will no doubt be further shifts and disruptions, not just related to how the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our lives. As ever, events will occur that cause changes in consumer behavior and new platforms and channels will elbow their way to the front of people’s minds. The above strategies and suggestions will be key for media planning success in the year ahead. But above all, agility and open-mindedness – the ability to adapt to things as they occur – will win out, as ever.

Telmar has a wide range of statistical and data integration solutions that make it easy to identify segments of consumers based on their values and opinions assisting in the development of integrated omnichannel communication plans. These solutions work with standard syndicated surveys as well as commissioned, proprietary data sets and can deliver total reach and frequency results for the campaigns.

Telmar’s Insights Solutions gives media professional access to powerful insights and meaningful results using easy targeting and segmentation tools.

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