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February Good Media Idea: Media Mix

Posted by Scott Christopher on Tue, Feb 28, 2017 @ 16:02 PM

We try on a semi-monthly basis to highlight on the blog some good media ideas we have seen lately. For example this tourism campaign in Australia that allows airport visitors to pet cheetahs and chase rat kangaroos via augmented reality. But this month I'd like to focus on a media planning fundamental: media mix. It's the whole "don't put all your eggs in one basket" concept, and it's still true in a digital world; maybe even more so.


Year after year, brands invest more into their digital advertising spend. You have to, right? It's the digital world we live in - where consumers and B2B buyers are always connected either via mobile phone or another device. And each year - heck, every month - there are new media channels available, whether it's buying ads on Snapchat, connected TV or somewhere else. There is nothing inherantly wrong with utilizing these new channels; in fact they can bring a great benefit to many brands as they offer micro-targeting of prospects. The problem comes when companies invest in more targeted, digital advertising channels and abandon traditional paths that generally bring mass reach to their buys. Brands should advertise across channels - traditional and digital - to achieve their goals. All media works together. 

Lately there has been a backlash from some major brands as they've realized the magical world of digital advertising isn't always that magical. Coca-Cola recently shared that their TV advertising still provides the best return on ad spend (ROAS) - $2.13 vs. $1.26 on digital. Last month one of the largest advertisers in the world, Procter and Gamble announced after investing more in digital for years with disparent standards and rampant fraud that they are not taking it anymore. They will be demanding that publishers and agencies be transparent with reporting and viewability. They'd like to know how their money is being spent. And is this too much to ask? Traditional channels are held to this standard through regulation.  

So what's the answer? Is the digital advertising landscape to blame? Should we abandon all digital advertising? Hardly. As I heard a speaker say the other week "digital advertising hasn't failed us; we have failed ourselves." This speaker, Linda Thomas Brooks, the CEO of MPA was referring to this reality of media mix. No media channel is meant to do it all. Sure, digital offers more promise through data targeting, and tracking site analytics on visitors from banner ads.  But the fact remains: there is no silver bullet. We're expecting digital to do everything, and it cannot.


Every media plan should have a balance of tactics that provide both reach and frequency. There should be tactics that help feed the top of the sales funnel (awareness + interest) and those that feed the bottom (purchase intent + conversions). Generally speaking, reach mediums work well for top of funnel while frequency mediums work for the bottom. The problem is that we are expecting digital advertising to provide reach when by its very nature - the fragmented internet - it cannot. Digital is actually very good at driving those bottom funnel metrics; like transactions through a SEM campaign. But you must feed the top of the funnel through broader reach mediums like TV, radio, and even print - to get prospects to the bottom of the funnel. To continue on the SEM example, people rarely search for a product or service if they've never heard of it.

Going back to Mrs. Brooks, she went on to explain this concept through an example of a flywheel. Put simply, it is a weighted wheel that continues to spin through inertia even after pressure has been applied to it. It will eventually stop if pressure isn't applied again. Traditional reach tactics build awareness and get the wheel spinning, and it keeps going for awhile. But narrow digital tactics can't keep it going. She explained that many major advertisers who are complaining about digital advertising not working have shut off their traditional advertising that builds awareness. Maybe they didn't immediately notice because the wheel kept spinning for a year or two; but now awareness has fallen and they must invest more to get it spinning again. 

I suppose the good news is that this investment in the "shiny new object" of digital advertising at the expense of a balanced media mix seems to be a universal problem. The biggest brands have skewed toward digital for years and the pendulum is starting to swing back to a more balanced approach. Lastly, I leave you with this article that is chock-full of great principles about media mix. One great quote from the article:

"Just because you can doesn’t mean you should, in data and targeting. .... It’s impractical to identify and connect individually with all of the people who are in the market for a product at any given moment in time. The surer route is to reach the most customers possible. That means building the bedrock of a media plan on channels with reliable mass."

If you'd like us to help you develop a balanced media plan, contact us today. 

Topics: digital advertising, Media Agency, media planning, media mix

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