media myopia

media myopia

There’s something very wrong with media planning.

We all seem to agree that things have changed.

However, too few of us are doing anything to really harness that change.

Bizarrely, we seem to be perpetuating an old, broken model.

I’ve seen this dangerous image in far too many places recently:

advertising 1980s vs 2009

Every time I see it, a little piece of me dies.

People think it shows how far we’ve come, but I think it shows the opposite.

I recognise its accuracy – it paints a realistic picture of advertising today – but it’s that very reality that I find so disturbing.

It highlights a ‘menu’ approach that continues to stifle media planning; an apporach that erodes the value we should be adding to our clients’ businesses, and destroys their trust in our work.

It proves that we still see the world from our perspective, instead of planning from our audience’s lives.

The sad fact is that we’re barely scraping the surface of what we could do.

I can’t stress this enough:

anything can be media

So why do we continue to focus on so few channels?

As Neil pointed out earlier this week, many of us blame our inertia on clients who “just don’t get it.”

But really, we are the problem.

So what can we do to fix things?

Firstly, we can adopt a more strategic approach to planning – planning based on the things we want to share, the people we want to share them with, and the lives those people live.

The second point goes much deeper.

The real barrier to making the most of the opportunities at our disposal is a revenue model built on commission.

Fundamentally, that model means that we can only survive if we sell paid media.

But if we are to succeed, we must stop operating as mere brokers, and aggressively push the strategic agenda we know to be correct.

These changes must begin with us.

So, I’m asking for your help.

Do whatever you think it takes: tweet it, share it, write your own version and blog it; even better, do them all.

But above all, let’s do something: it’s high time that we make a real difference, instead of just talking about it.

I believe the channels graphic first appeared in the FT.

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13 Responses to “media myopia”


  1. 1 katy October 9, 2009 at 15:30

    totally! that’s why I get frustrated when those media agencies who still only plan activity within paid-for media say they are communications planners. at naked we think about communications from a total comms POV, ie that EVERYTHING communicates – your packaging, your in-store experience, your PR, your corporate repuation, your employees (who are often the most important medium of all). what’s the point in focusing on the paid-for stuff if you can’t get the rest right?!

  2. 2 hugh de winton October 9, 2009 at 16:24

    Couldn’t agree more, the deepest problem for me lies in the revenue model. As long as it’s commissioned based, those with their eyes on the figures will prefer spending with established media owners in traditional channels.

    Educating clients as to the importance of long term strategic planning putting people (not consumers) at the heart of everything is undoubtedly where the value is for media agencies. Underlining impartiality and independence should be at the top of an agencies agenda. Right now we risk being perceived as stalwarts for media channels rather than ideas.

    i started writing about this here:

    http://hughdewinton.blogspot.com/2008/12/media-transaction.html

    and it turned into a potential framework here:

    http://hughdewinton.blogspot.com/2009/09/working-framework-early-sept-update.html

  3. 3 neilperkin October 9, 2009 at 22:24

    Agree- there seems to be much inertia around media planning models and practice. You have to question why such a high proportion of ATL spend still goes on one-way, frequency driven messaging when media consumption and interaction is changing so rapidly. Thought provoking post.

  4. 4 Tim Harrap October 10, 2009 at 00:35

    Katy is spot on when she says everything communicates. How many business forget to manage their story at the lobby? Have you checked the quality of the flowers recently? The pictures on the wall? I once went to a famous food manufacturers factory and the lobby was “death” – you new in an instant that you didn’t want to work there. So much for strategy something can happen in an instant and you are blown away especially in the new environment.

  5. 5 Brandhabits October 11, 2009 at 21:22

    Another great post, thanks Simon.

    I agree with yourself and Hugh above re: incentives. The model needs to change, for that to happen though the objectives also need to change. Share of voice, ratings targets all need to be changed. They should be a measure of efficiency not of overall success.

    I also think we need to embrace a true customer first approach based on how they (not us) consume their media and the role they expect it to play.

    I’ve posted a follow-up here:
    http://brandhabits.net/2009/10/11/new-media-menu/

  6. 6 eskimon October 12, 2009 at 10:31

    Thanks for all the comments – it’s reassuring to know that I’m not alone in my frustrations!

    Katy, Tim – I still find it bizarre that refer to advertising as ‘brand communications’, as though no other aspect of their efforts communicated. The reality is that people only see one brand, and everything that they experience influences that – whether or not the brand initiates or controls it.

    Hugh, love the framework: a succinct, but rich set of ‘thought steps’ that should help improve the strategic focus of comms planning. I’ve posted some thoughts on your post too.

    Neil, you’re spot on with the ‘inertia’ point. I find most people agree with the sentiments laid out above, yet for some reason resist adopting the obvious solution. I understand that it’s difficult to change a revenue model overnight, but the odd thing is that a shift to fees would surely benefit agencies that are being crippled by ever-shrinking commission rates.

    Andy, that’s a superb follow-up, thanks very much. The more attention this measurement / remuneration topic receives, the sooner we can move away from antiquated approaches and attitudes. I’ve left comments on your post too.

  7. 8 Matt Nelson October 19, 2009 at 21:00

    I know it’s almost cliche to say, but the only difference between advertising now vs. 1980 is that information flows two ways now. Quantifying the vehicles is a stupid exercise.

    Your clients know about vehicles, they always have and they always will. Your value as advertisers is understanding people. Always has been, always will be.

    Get the people part right and you could use ten different vehicle combinations to get to the same point.

    • 9 eskimon October 19, 2009 at 21:46

      Thanks Matt – that opportunity for dialogue should certainly have changed how we approach brand communications, but sadly, I’m not sure many brands have seized it.

      As you point out, marketing’s always about people: understand what they want, and how you can make their lives better – through any aspect of the marketing mix – and you’ll be in a great place to start building lasting, meaningful relationships.

      As an aside: nice move on the YouTube MBA initiative – look forward to seeing how you build and develop that!

      • 10 Matt Nelson October 20, 2009 at 04:46

        Thanks Simon. It’s a little rough right now, but it’s been on the back burner for far too long. Trying to take my own advice…start today, learn along the way.

        If you have thoughts, suggestions I’d love to hear them.


  1. 1 New media menu, same taste « Brandhabits Trackback on October 11, 2009 at 21:15
  2. 2 marginally subversive Trackback on October 18, 2009 at 19:59
  3. 3 Monday reading list | Under the Rotunda Trackback on October 19, 2009 at 14:36

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