Integrated media planning shouldn’t be so difficult

The ANA and AAAA just released a survey indicating marketers could be doing a better job of planning media in an integrated manner. The headline in Adweek read “Integrated media plans face obstacle course. New survey shows agencies need more metrics, better grasp of Web.”

I believe these are excuses from agencies that don’t really want to change. What the article doesn’t address are the reasons I believe clients are still being underserved by most agencies. It boils down to three fundamental problems.

  1. Lack of a cohesive framework for evaluating different types of media: It’s true that there are few established systems that allow a marketer to input criteria into a model and get an integrated recommendation. But that doesn’t mean that different media types with their different measurement systems can’t be reduced to some common evaluation metrics. It takes a new perspective on framing marketing objectives and associating appropriate media metrics. It is hard work, but the results we are seeing as we do this for clients is worth the effort.
  2. Media departments are fragmented: We hear this all the time from marketers and media companies that offer both traditional and digital options. The traditional planners are usually in a different department from their digital counterparts. They may be in a different building, a different city or even a different arm of the holding company. And you wonder why media plans aren’t integrated?
  3. Media departments are incomplete: The biggest missing piece is search marketing. Few agencies make PPC campaigns part of their media plans, and for many marketers this is one of the most effective options they have. Even fewer view search engine optimization as a media discipline, though it can drive visitors to a client’s website more efficiently than almost any other form of paid media. It’s not that agencies don’t “grasp the Web” as the article proclaims, it’s that they aren’t even trying.

It’s taken our agency about three years to address these three problems, but we know now that they can be overcome. We have learned that it takes a culture that is oriented both to integration and to change. Sadly, many big agencies have neither.

If you have a perspective on this challenge, drop me a note. Or if you’d like to discuss what we’ve learned about what it takes to do integrated media planning, let’s talk.