Media planning – the strategic process of deciding where and when to reach an audience to maximize customer engagement and ROI – is being transformed by sweeping technological advancements. Improvements in data gathering and analytics, along with the proliferation of digital channels and social media, all contribute to a deeper understanding of, and access to, customers. The resulting data provides a spectrum of actionable insights for marketers.
These technological and digital advancements have created new, significant pressures for media planners. Companies have increasingly high expectations for measurable returns on media investments, and marketers are receiving constant demands to do more with less. With the right tools and technology, media planners on a strict budget can create and execute effective campaigns with measurable results. The right software is an integral part of achieving the results and metrics that serve an organization’s strategic marketing objectives.
When choosing media planning software, look for these three key capabilities:
Data without visualization is just numbers that can be difficult to contextualize, connect, and ascribe meaning. Data visualization takes complex information and plots it in graphs or charts that are high-impact, meaningful, and easily understood. Marketers use data visualization to identify valuable and overlooked relationships, identify emerging connections, and discover insights that can be used to drive strategy.
There are various ways to present data: to illustrate the difference between two or more things (comparison) or to show the interaction between two or more things (relationship). Alternatively, as in the case of a customer base, marketers may want to show the attributes of the group (composition) or how different attributes are allocated in the group (distribution). Understanding what your company seeks to accomplish with visualization drives the type of presentation that will have the most impact on its audience.
Not only does data visualization improve understanding of complex data, but it also improves context. For example, one study found that when presented with data alone, 68% of a group believed it to be true; however, the addition of a simple graph to the presentation of the same data raised the number of believers to 97% of the group.
To achieve the best possible results and create a more comprehensive picture of the media landscape, planners should maximize the number of data sources that can be integrated into the process. More data sources provide more details, higher-quality results, better insights, and more informed conclusions. Data integrity increases as the number of reliable data sources increases.
Integrating data from different sources, however, can be challenging. Some data is collected in aggregate, while other campaigns collect information on a personal or individual level. This data can be difficult to normalize and integrate into useful analytics. The ideal data source provides cross-media data integration that combines results across all channels – print, traditional, digital, and even in-store or direct mail advertising. Including more diverse sources of data translates into more educated decision-making processes that are better-aligned with long-term strategic objectives.
Implementing reliable data gathering processes is an important first step to integrating data from various different sources. Once the data has been collected and organized, data analytics – reviewing data to draw conclusions – is used to devise strategies, measure successes and failures, and improve decision making throughout operations. Data analytics provides a source of truth as to what is happening in the real world.
Data management platforms help media planners identify and engage specific audiences at targeted moments in time.The integration of data into operational processes allows media professionals to quickly access and analyze responses to consumer surveys and better leverage data on particular demographics, behaviors, and markets. Real-time data integration services create transparency across all channels — including TV, radio, internet, magazines, newspapers, social media, and mobile — by enabling them to evaluate brands, products, and attitudinal targets in timely and actionable ways.
While technology has advanced the ability of data to improve targeted marketing, it has also made a marketer’s job more complex. Expectations are high, increasing the pressure on media planners to accomplish more – targeting, personalization, effectiveness, ROI – with oftentimes fewer resources and less budget. To harness the power of data analytics and make the best use of available data, it is important to leverage the most effective tools available. Media planning software can be a powerful tool, provided it can meet the requirements of data gathering, integration, analysis, and visualization to create a clear, measurable, data-driven source of truth for media planning decisions.