May 26, 2010

3 Oddball Ideas About Media

Okay, before we get started here, let's put our cards on the table. I know nothing about media planning or buying. I'm a copywriter. Nonetheless, as in so many other areas, I have strongly held, ill-informed opinions. Here are a few.

Never before has the science of media planning and buying been so precise. Never before has there been more data available, and more analysis done. Never before have there been more well-trained media brainiacs at work.

And never before has it been more confusing and dangerous.

Because there are so many new media options evolving, and so many ways to dissect and evaluate these media options, there are also more ways than ever to piss money away on harebrained media schemes.

If I were a CMO and was responsible for millions in media spending, here are three very unscientific things I would do in addition to analyzing the numbers.

1. Watch the retailers: Retailers tend to be very savvy about media. They tend to be much closer to media subtleties than brand advertisers. They often know on a day-to-day basis what's working for them and what isn't. Many track their businesses daily and relate sales to media activity. If they are putting their money in a particular medium and taking it out of another, it tells you something about the general effectiveness of these media that cold statistics can't.

2. Who's making money? It's far from a perfect system, but keeping an eye on the supply and demand side of the media industry is a pretty good indicator of what's been effective. Who's making money in the media business is a reasonable barometer of what's working for marketers and what isn't. The fact that Google's search business is so robust, and its YouTube business can't make a profit, tells you that marketers are generally finding search to be effective and online video not very effective.

3. Think carefully about the numbers.  Taking the above example one step further, YouTube viewership has reached 2 billion videos a day. This is absolutely mind-blowing. However, it doesn't  make YouTube an effective advertising medium. There are some media that are universally utilized but are not very good for advertising (e.g., the telephone.)

Taking media advice from a copywriter is always a suspect proposition. However, if I were in your shoes, Ms. CMO,  I would always temper the analytics with a healthy dose of common sense.

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