The glue that holds media plans together

Years ago, I was asked by my Starz Media client to provide his team with a point of view on the future of television. Boy, did I get it wrong!

Writing from the viewpoint that a proliferation of media choices and trend toward personalized media consumption would only grow, I presented the client with a white paper stating that broadcast television would be dead by 2020.
Of course, television remains the last bastion of effective reach in paid media campaigns. If you’re not convinced, just look at Super Bowl LI. One of the five most watched in Super Bowl history, 70 percent of households, and over 113 million viewers tuned in, according to Fox Sports. Audience numbers of this magnitude simply can’t be replicated elsewhere.

Yet digital and social media, both desktop and mobile, have become essential campaign ingredients, engaging people 24-7 in the content they seek out. The long tail effect means there are countless opportunities to tap into consumers’ personal interests. Factor in hyper-targeting, cost efficiencies and e-commerce potential and it’s no surprise that U.S. digital ad spending surpassed TV ad spending last year, according to eMarketer.

Experience tells us that the most potent media combinations blend both traditional and non-traditional media. In highly effective campaigns, the whole of consumers’ experiences exceeds the sum generated by their individual media components.

What’s the secret sauce to take your media ROI to the next level? In a word, it’s your strategy. In a few more, a media strategy that informs how messages will be coordinated across media, supporting one another rather than existing side-by-side as stand-alone silos. This strategy is the glue that keeps media working together.

A recent study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) agrees. They found that “media plans that include mobile and desktop advertising executed simultaneously with traditional offline media consistently drive greater lift across brand impact metrics than traditional offline media alone.” The study measured 5 categories including Auto, CPG, Retail, Finance and Media. In every category, the IAB concluded: “the inclusion of digital ad formats in a traditional campaign improved brand impact both individually and in combination with traditional media formats.”

Among my graduate students in strategic communications, this concept is one of the most difficult for them to master. As media evolves, communications planners and media practitioners must develop cross-media plans that create meaningful results for their clients and the customers they serve. This will require strategic planning and thoughtful collaboration early in campaign development between creative partners across paid, owned, earned and shared media.

So where is this headed? It’s still true that predictions and crystal balls have very little value. Instead, what matters is staying abreast of change in a rapidly changing media market. That’s why you’ll find me watching the Academy Awards on TV, while following along on Twitter and streaming back stage stories on Snapchat. It now truly is a multi-media world. Hope to see you there!

Michelle Fitzgerald is a communications strategist and principal at Brew: Creative Media in Minneapolis. She is also an adjunct faculty member in the Professional M.A. in Strategic Communication program at the University of Minnesota.