The future of media planning

03 Apr 2017  |  Paul Silver 
The future of media planning

Ahead of an upcoming industry debate, Paul Silver explains why he believes one of the most vital marketing disciplines is in desperate need of reinvention

“The agency is dead.”

I’ve lost track of the number of times I have heard this. And if you believe what you read, the agency is about to be disintermediated by everyone. From technology companies to consultancy firms, to the next generation media companies to advertisers themselves.

Yes, agencies may need reinventing. They may also need to re-think their business models. And they certainly need to re-tool for a new age of data-driven communications.

But what has been forgotten, is that at the core of many great agencies, is great talent and great capability around planning.

Agencies can connect consumer truths with a communication strategy to affect business change. It is still a highly prized capability that perhaps has lost its shine since the advent of programmatic and real-time advertising.

Planning is the very fabric of a communications strategy and if we’re honest, it is the core of marketing - how do you engage effectively with consumers? Whether that be through how and where you advertise, to how you package, and how you design your stores.

That said, planning, absolutely needs to be reinvented.

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As it stands, communication and strategic planning do not take advantage of the information highway that the digital economy has created.

Too often, planning led insights are reliant upon one-dimensional data such as panel based signals and behaviours - all of which, can create old-fashioned approaches to customer segmentation.

However, at the moment, planning does not leverage the more advanced approaches to analysis, nor does it utilise the deeper, faster data sets now available.

Programmatic has enabled and created a bigger canvas. Knowing where consumers go (in a privacy conscious way), what they do online and when they do it. These should be informing the very essence of identifying customer groups most valuable to brands and informing where and how you connect with them.

Planning rarely leverages insight on actual people. As a result, all too often, plans designed to impact consumers in an always-on digital world are being crafted by insights belonging to an analogue age.

But it needn’t be this way.

The future of planning must be about better insight. Consumers are no longer static, so in turn, insight must be more fluid.

Planning strategies should be in an always-on state, in the same way as buying has become. We operate in a 24/7 digital world so better data and better tools have to be the future of planning. The source, skill and craftsmanship in agencies are there, they just need to be utilised in a better way.

Agencies are sitting on a gold mine of insight potential. They know their client’s business challenge better than most and therefore, know the right questions to ask.

Whether you are an engineer, a developer or an analyst, the most valuable insight will always be knowing what problem needs to be solved and what questions need to be answered.

Agencies know these problems. They know the questions to ask of insight. Therefore, they need to be more embedded in the world of programmatic buying and activation from the outset.

Additionally, agencies are sitting on a wealth of data, be it structured or unstructured. Creating better access will enable this data to be better connected and translated into something easily actionable.

This data is flowing all around agencies right now, from customers to vendors to media owners.

For instance, how would your communications strategy change if you ran a car rental business and knew that a previously unidentified customer segment, frequently hired cars for road trips from London to Newquay?

Ultimately, the future of planning will rest on accessing better insights to solve problems. By solving an advertiser’s business problem, you’ll own the main seat at the table.

To do this, not only do you need better access to tools, but also know how to use them to plan more effectively. Oh, did I mention, we have one?

Paul Silver is chief operating officer at Media iQ

Event: Are algorithms killing the planning stars?

Date: Wednesday 26 April 2017
Venue: No.11 Cavendish Square, Marylebone, London, W1G 0AN
Time: 9am - 1:30pm

A rare chance to hear from senior media agency and creative agency planners and strategists on their roles and challenges.

Limited places, book your seat now.


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JimeetGandhi, communication executive, Amagi MIX on 4 Aug 2017
“You have rightly commented, "Programmatic has enabled and created a bigger canvas." And the future of media planning will focus on more analytics.”



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