Digital Media Strategy – The Past, Present & Future

Digital Media Strategy – The Past

Back in mid 2000’s, digital media strategy was just an excel crunching and data munching job. It was nothing more than a cost optimised ms-excel plan. Almost all the plans followed the same construct, lots of rich media innovations, roadblocks & tonnes of banner impressions.

Back then, even the clients had little expectations from the media planners. The term ‘Media Strategy’ was considered to be an oxymoron. Marketing folks were extremely selective while discussing their overall marketing strategy, leave alone the business strategy.

While the term performance marketing was existing, but then very few planners could show how the cross channel funnel works.

All the above points left a lot room for human bias and made the entire planning process highly dependent on the whims and fancy of media planning teams.

But guess what, times have changed.

Digital Media Strategy – The Present

With the rise of search, data analytics, biddable media, RTBs and programmatic buying platforms, complexion of media plans has changed.

Growth of RTB Programmatic in new age Digital Media Strategy

Growth of RTB Programmatic in new age Digital Media Strategy

The growth & adoption of programmatic is enormous in the western markets like the US (see above graph). More than four-fifths of agencies and brands already purchase display ads programmatically. And even greater proportion of publishers are pursuing programmatic channels as part of their sales strategies.

 

CMO queries on digital media strategy

Even the metrics for media planning have seen quite a lot of transformation. Today, most of the CMOs are more than interested in knowing how their digital activities are performing?

Discussions around basic web analytics (page views, bounce rates, etc.) have given way to more complex marketing analytics metrics.

The new marketing metrics include customer life time value (LTV), brand uplift, share of voice, engagement rates, conversion attribution etc.

With the rise of smart devices, cross device strategies became extremely crucial for all CMOs. As a result, marketing teams have understood the need of having a scientific, data driven wireframe for their digital media strategy.

These wireframes have clearly defined goals, metrics and attribution methodologies to create a comprehensive digital media approach.

The conversations in the marketing corridors are changing everyday. Digital agencies & digitalmedia planning teams have to learn to talk in the same language.

Digital Media Strategy – The Future

So what is the new language of digital media planning?

The answer is DATA!

In future, marketing teams would be more than eager to bring their digital media partner into a strategic roadmap discussion. Are media planning agencies ready to to drop their archaic hit and trial planning methods and focus on new age analytical approach?

As a digital media planner, one has to look into different data sources at all stages of strategy planning. These data points would cut across marketing and sales, online and offline, consumer and partners etc. Any sustainable digital media strategy must connect all these dots together.

Digital media planning would no longer be restricted to a few selected channels like display, social and search. On one side, number of channels are increasing and on the other side, the lines are continuously blurring between digital and media strategy.

Is your digital media planner ready for the future?

Programmatic Media in India – A Despicable Story

While globally popular for over a decade, programmatic media in India is being used only since last couple of years.

eMarketer forecasts US mobile programmatic ad spending will reach $9.33 billion this year and account for 60.5% of total US programmatic display ad spending.  At present, the programmatic buying industry is at a very nascent stage in India.

There are many companies which have started providing such services.

Key Players for Programmatic Media In India

  1. Global Leaders
    1. Publicis’s Vivaki – Audience on Demand (AOD)
    2. GroupM – Xaxis
    3. OMD-Accuen
    4. Dentsu Aegis – Amnet
    5. IPG – Cadreon
  2. DSPs & Trading Desks
    1. Sociomantic
    2. Vizury
  3. Ad Networks
    1. RevX by Komli
    2. Ybrant Digital
  4. Programmatic Ad-Tech Startups
    1. Rocketfuel
    2. Appier

Along with these, there are many US companies also which are operating remotely in India. But it still hasn’t picked up the way it should have been. It is still taking time for the marketers and agencies to understand the true benefit of DSPs and start replacing their traditional way of media buying with it.

Key Challenges for Programmatic Media In India

Revenue Forecast

Extremely difficult to project or forecast the market size for programmatic in India. A somewhat accurate guesstimate would be 10-20% of overall display spends and can go up to 50% of display by end of 2017-18.

Silo Approach By Ad Networks

Most of the companies in India providing programmatic services are currently operating in silos. The ad networks are providing very basic programmatic buys from ad exchanges, and claiming it as audience targeting. There are very few people (at both client’s and agency’s end) who actually understand audience targeting from a technology standpoint.

Limited Audience

With too many players trying to get their share in this small pie, the minimum bidding price (eCPM) in India can also go up for the same audience as not many brands are savvy reaching out to the audience outside major top 10 metros as the purchasing power or disposable income is linked to it.

Stubborn Media Planners

Programmatic’s basic DNA resides in data & technology, it is less of a media concept, and from execution standpoint, it needs more deeper understanding of technologies like Big Data Segmentation. Hence, any programmatic campaign requires handling a lot of data, analyse, create intelligent algorithms and provide meaningful insights to the advertisers. These technical experts will have to work hand in hand with the media planning teams. Media planning teams in India are too stubborn & resistant to change to this newer reality which would make the adoption for programmatic that much more difficult.

Less Confident Publishers

Major Indian publishers are often hesitant to sell their premium inventory in an open bidding process but are willing to work via private deals. Even if that requires a painful & rather long selling process of going from door to door.  Publishers have their own reasons to resist-losing control on their premium placements, earning less revenues due to RTB (real time bidding), integrating their premium inventories liked fixed buys or sponsorships.

Programmatic Rich Media

Currently, there is a massive demand for video based Rich media formats in India, whereas programmatic is still stuck on basic banner & pre-roll video based buys. Unless there is a massive upgrade in the programmatic tech, which would include the features like rich media, brand safety and premium placements, Indian brands won’t show interest in the programmatic buys.

 

How to allocate funds for digital marketing?

Budgeting for digital marketing is a mystery for most clients.

In my experience, 2 out of 3 clients have asked me to recommend budgets for content marketing and digital media planning.

Is there a science to figure out the right media mix?

Lets go a little deeper to understand this problem.

A marketing plan is a detailed roadmap that outlines your marketing strategies, tactics, costs and projected results over a period of time.

Your marketing plan and budget keep your entire team focused on specific goals – it’s a critical resource for your entire company.

Frankly, nobody knows how much is too much for Digital and why?

Though, it is slightly easier for organisations whose DNA is 100% grounded into digital like e-commerce, gaming, music or other content apps etc.

But even for them, prioritising their budgets towards various channels is still difficult. 

I’ve consulted numerous startups at different stages of their business, marketing spend optimisation is as important as conversion optimisation. 

Here’s how one should go about budget allocation in digital marketing. 

CONTENT MARKETING Vs DISTRIBUTION (PAID ADVERTISING)

 

The first question marketers have to answer is how much they should spend in creating their digital assets and how much they need to distribute it.

Trust me, it is not as easy question as we think it is.

Key to this question lies in the understanding of digital metrics at different stages of customer journey.

  • What are we really chasing? (Brand Awareness / Brand Recall / Conversation Share / Leads / eCommerce sales etc.) For e.g. How much you should spend on content creation if your objective is sales?
  • What are your industry specific trends? ( for e.g, according to a Cisco report, B2B companies have rated video content in the top 3 most effective digital tactic for lead generation )
  • What are the general paid and organic benchmarks for Search & Social?

Allocating BUDGETs by Audience

 

People think the beauty of digital marketing is audience targeting.

Wrong!

The real beauty is the power of data analytics which helps you understanding your audience preferences in finer details.

Different data types in analytics helps you uncover various aspects of audience behaviour.

Also Read : Understanding types of data sets in marketing

It is very important to start understanding your audience reports in web /app analytics. 

Your site analytics could tell you a lot about your future customer and how you need to reach out.

By comparing sources such as paid campaigns, organic traffic and social media channels, you can apply the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule.

You are going to find out what sources generate the majority of sales to later tune up your budget allocation.

Use the Pareto Principle and identify the top 20 percent of your traffic sources that generate 80 percent of good results. Focus your budget on that.

Also read : 80-20 rule of sales – How to find your best customers 

A/B TestING, Scale up and Repeat

 

One of the most important thing I’ve learnt in my digital career is to learn the art of creating successful pilot test campaigns.

It is vital for your to create certain hypothesis KPIs and key assumptions about your business audience which you would want to test through your pilot campaign.

For instance, if any third-party reports are saying that your target audience is actively engaging through social media and searching less on search engines, you should create a separate social led campaign to test the hypothesis.

Once you have your results, try re-verify them, but this time with slightly higher budget.

Now repeat this to your strategic benefit as it would give you enough confidence as marketer where you can keep on increasing your budgets in social media as a channel and optimise your business returns.

Create your own Digital Strategy Template

 

While allocating digital marketing budget for your brand or startup, it is critical to follow your industry best practices but at some point you must try to find some key insights about your actual audience.

A lot of times, you would realise that the actual buying audience is very different from the target group you are chasing for a long time in your media plans.

If you act fast enough, you can optimise the channel budgets in real-time which can boost your overall performance and drive efficiencies. 

Also Read : How to create your digital strategy template? 

Budget Allocation should be fluidic

 

A lot of enterprise companies allocate funds annually for marketing, but digital marketing usually requires more maintenance, with quarterly or monthly allocation adjustments.

High volume, automated buying in channels like paid search or paid social should be analysed for performance and landscape fluctuations, with budget allocations being adjusted accordingly.

70:20:10 Rule of Digital Media Planning

 

Frankly speaking, nobody can actually guesstimate the budget amount,  but new predictive modelling technologies have emerged to help CMOs forecast media performance to better allocate budgets.

If you are a nimble startup or a small business, consider the 70/20/10 rule as a good starting point.

  • 70% of the budget be allocated to “tried and tested” channels (like Search, Social Media & Email)
  • 20% to “safe bets” (newer channels like Mobile Marketing & Native Ads, that seem promising, even if they haven’t proven themselves just yet),
  • 10% allocated to “experimental” (cutting edge, unique opportunities like “Big Data” which might provide a big payoff).

Hacking Digital Media For Integrated Marketing

Today, the lives of human race is shrunk within a 6 inch device.

It is high time for media planners to rethink their approach towards digital media planning.

Talking from an Indian perspective, brands are increasingly moving towards more advanced planning methodologies.

On one side, e-commerce has opened the floodgates for sales driven planning, traditional brand advertisers are taking baby steps to convert their all branding plan to sales focussed campaigns with a clear positive intent to drive more sales.

Legacy FMCG Brands like Dabur (see Dabur Liveveda ), HLL, P&G, Rekitt & Benkiser, Nestle are investing heavily into performance driven SEO & SEM campaigns to drive higher ROI for their brands.

Some of them are even building their e-commerce portals (which may be an overkill of the idea at the moment). Incidentally, the idea of running pure brand campaigns is long gone from the market.

Online planners must do their digital media planning using these core marketing hacks before making a sales focussed plan for their clients:

INTEGRATED MARKETING IN DIGITAL MEDIA

 

The modern day digital media planning is continuously evolving from the conventional eCPMs & eCPCs.

With brands understanding the potential of online & mobile medium, they would push agencies to drive more business.

In many cases, media planner becomes an extension of brand’s sales team.

Though we always had CPA, CPL & CPS models under affiliate marketing but thats not scalable for all the brands.

A brand which has huge presence across mediums like TV, Print, Radio, OOH ( somebody like Flipkart ) can surely hope for driving huge ROI in their online efforts.

A digital planner needs to really understand how the brand is using their messaging across mediums in order to cross leverage the impact & recall in online media.

For instance, if the brand is using a particular type of communication in offline, the planner must contextualise the same in online to match the target audience.

LEVERAGE SEARCH TO REACH OFFLINE AUDIENCE

 

It would not be incorrect to say that online habits are mirrored from offline behaviour patterns.

A C-level executive of financial firm  would be an avid follower of CNBC shows, at the same time he would have moneycontrol.com, Economic Times, Financial Times bookmarked in his Smartphone browser.

This was a very simple example, a complex example would be an adventure travel enthusiast playing a strategy game on his smartphone.

With google, you can open your imagination around a world of possible keywords which your audience may look for.

As a digital brand planner, you must pass this intelligence to your media planning team as to what could be various categories of keywords in which your target segments may fall into.

This clearly is mapping of one’s offline habits into their possible online behaviour.

Digital Media planNING tO DRIVE FOOTFALLS

 

It is a tendency of most of the agencies to fall into the trap of offering digital only plan to their clients, which at times may not be the best idea. Especially for the retail which is arguably the largest spender across all ad-mediums, digital only strategy is pointless if it cannot generate sufficient footfalls in their brand outlets.

With smartphones pushing the technology boundaries, it is now possible for the planners to build a online to in-store marketing plan.

Here are some basic fundamentals and digital media planning tips that can help to make sales & ROI driven media plan for their retail client:

  • Understand & define the brand audience they would like to drive to the stores. Throwing communication is wide open & hoping for someone to catch it may not be the right strategy in this kind of plan.
  • Find the right digital channels where you could possibly reach out to these customers. Email + Social + Mobile Search would be the best combo for such marketing activity.
  • Use the map locator as the CTA for all your communication.
  • Make sure you put some coupon code everywhere so that you can track the effectiveness of the activity.
  • Drive leads and send them SMS alerts along with the google map locator link of the nearby store. This works like a charm for any brand and can drive super quick sales conversions on ground.