The 6th Sense
Lindsay William Hungry for Change

Hungry For Change.

It’s no surprise the old media planning playbook is obsolete – and in need of a complete overhaul. But instead of a reactive response to the whirlwind changes confronting agencies like mine – and our clients – we at Rokkan have decided to slow things down and revisit the role of strategy in media.

In the past, media planning revolved around broadcasting a singular message through a trusted, mass channel like television. Now, the conversation is centered around the use of data to help target the right audience in the right place at the right time.

And just in the last few years, the game has advanced to a whole new level – CMOs are increasingly under pressure to drive business growth, the continued dominance of digital is creating overwhelming and complex data sets, and technological innovation is changing the media landscape quicker than the industry can react.

As part of our work helping brands better understand and serve the journey of their customers, we are launching The Connections Group, a broader group with expanded capabilities from solely media and analytics into SEO, CRM and email marketing. This new group will allow us to provide top to bottom consumer funnel strategy and execution capabilities to our clients.

In practical terms, it will mean being a lot more methodical and intentional about which mediums fit which ads, and why – for example, a banner ad will only go on digital channels if there is data and strategy to support it. A TV spot won’t be cut into a :15 second digital ad just because that’s the way it’s always been done, and every media buy will have a distinct trajectory without any dead ends. Each ad will live in its own place, serve its own purpose and have its own destination. In other words, we’re going to marry strategy with creative. Or, in my food-obsessed mind, we’re going to serve the steak on a plate.

Steak? Sounds simple enough. But crafting a perfect meal experience around steak requires orchestration and planning. If strategy, media and creative were in the kitchen together trying to cook a meal, media would be responsible for selecting the dishes while strategy and creative would be responsible for preparing the food. Unsure of what meal is being prepared, the media folks logically choose to serve whatever comes their way in bowls because bowls are the most versatile. (It’s summer, but soup isn’t off the table, right?) On the other side of the kitchen, however, strategy and creative agree on cooking steak. Once the meat is ready, they all realize the bowls are a terrible misfit, but, since everyone is hungry and steak can technically be served in bowls, that’s what happens.

Somehow, having gotten too used to making odds and ends fit, this happens a lot. So we think it’s time for the siloed cooking style to stop. That means putting media, strategy and creative all in the same kitchen so they can talk and work together during meal prep. Media would then know plates make the most sense for a perfect steak experience.

We’ve been putting steak on plates for Mikimoto for more than three years. For a luxury jewelry client like Mikimoto, you might think – without the input of strategy – that glossy high impact takeovers might be the best way to boost online sales. But a closer look at the data revealed that programmatic banner ads and search would actually create the most impact among their target audience. It worked – we’ve seen a two-fold return on investment.

We’ve also made sure to pair the dish with the platter for other clients. For Hallmark Signature, data helped us decide to use stop-motion videos for Instagram and longer-form videos for Facebook. For Café de Colombia, we capitalized on user-generated content to drive engagement on Twitter, distributed :15 second pre-roll video through programmatic tactics and placed the longer :90 second video version on a custom campaign site. All with great success.

The Connections Group aims to finally put the consumer in the center of the ad experience. The group will consider the entire customer journey as it relates to different channels – from TV, print, digital, mobile, social media and retail experiences – and connect all the dots, whether they are seen through paid, owned or earned media.

The nuances of the customer journey, especially through brand campaigns, matter even more today. What will someone do after they watch a TV ad? Will they search something online? What will they search? What about when they are in a store? Will there be something there that will nudge them back into the social realm? Adding CRM and SEO capabilities into our existing offering will allow Rokkan to collect new types of data for our clients and develop a complete understanding of their customers and where they want to be reached.

Clients have caught on, too. More and more, we hear them saying that they want data to drive all business decisions, including content and creative. To fit their needs, The Connections Group is continuing to build out a 360 analytics team with deep strategic and technical knowledge. From data science to marketing analytics, our goal is to offer clients a suite of bespoke solutions that connect their customers’ actions back to their business.

As other agencies and in house media strategists continue figuring out ways to back into digital marketing strategies for products concocted by R&D and product teams, Rokkan will be helping brands connect with clients based on real information: consumer need, behavior and desire. Of course, I know media alone isn’t the recipe for success – it takes a lot of smarts, planning, collaboration and flawless execution to plate the steak. I guarantee it’ll taste better in the end.

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