Integrated Thinking: A Creative Approach to Media Strategies
The media landscape today has become highly complex and diverse — a battleground for consumers’ attention — mainly due to an increase in the number of media channels. Adding to the complexity is the habit of consumers to skip, block and avoid ads. This has made it very difficult to reach customers, and has increased the need for an innovative media strategy.
Why Media Strategy Needs a Creative Approach
Traditionally, media was not treated as a strategic function. Media agencies focused solely on leveraging their buying power to obtain better prices through rebates and principal buys. Additionally, they were also keen on developing their infrastructure to efficiently execute the highly tactical media-buying operations. Their focus on strategy and planning was limited to deciding where to buy, that is, which media channel to select and on calculating the media reach and frequency of the campaigns.
Media strategy today needs to have a more holistic approach. In addition to just focusing on selecting the right media channel for a campaign, media strategy must also consider a customer’s complete journey across various channels. Such an approach to media strategy can only be fulfilled when media agencies focus more on increasing the value of an impression than on the number of impressions. An impression may be of high value when the consumer is able to emotionally correlate to the brand’s message in the campaign.
The value of an impression can be increased only when the media strategy is arrived at by working closely with those creating the content. The content will determine if the media actually succeeds in creating the expected value. This means that a holistic and innovative media strategy can be obtained when the strategy is drawn by those creating the content, that is, the creative agencies.
How Creative Agencies Benefit by Bringing Media Strategy In-House
One must remember that media function is not the only winner in this “creative” collaboration. Bringing media strategy and creative under a single roof will help the creative team recognize the right content for a campaign, and understand the advantages and limitations of media channels, user behavior, and context better.
Additionally, being a part of media strategy will enable creative agencies to help their clients understand who their target population is and where, before deciding how to approach the creative aspect of the campaign. For example, knowing the right target audience and the right media channels for the campaign, based on the brand’s requirements, will help creative agencies come up with creative briefs that are tailored to a set of media channels.
Rise of Agencies Offering Both Creative and Media Services
The trend of bringing media strategy within the creative agency’s purview has been growing, albeit slowly. This is because large brands are still working with the big media shops for scale and have a small piece of communications planning and strategy with creative agencies in a bid to make their impressions more relevant, meaningful, and effective. However, an increasing number of creative agencies such as Droga5, Wieden+Kennedy, Crossmedia, Traction, and Walrus now have teams that manage media buying, planning, and strategy for their clients.
As brands see the value addition brought by combining media strategy and creative, they are likely to transfer larger portions of media operations to their creative agencies. This is poised to alter the supply landscape of media agencies through adding more agencies offering creative and media services. This new breed of agencies will not just help brands craft innovative media strategies that ease reaching out to and winning customers, but also help them reduce costs and increase transparency.