Bringing the magic back to media

Who said we can’t be innovative in media plans asks UM’s Abdelnabi Alaeddine



 By Abdelnabi Alaeddine – Regional director – digital planning and investment at UM

Working in media was always exciting to everyone as innovation was always at the core of advertising. Media experts used to be recognised as the driving force of innovation, but somehow in the last few years this energy has largely faded away. Agencies used to compete against each other to come up with the craziest and most advanced ideas across media, creative and partnerships. 

During and post-pandemic, we observed a change in strategy with brands increasingly focused on maximising revenue and ROAS through lower funnel media activations. 

With this change in approach, planners started to feel monotonous in their day-to-day work as clients started to avoid or deviate from big ideas that drive awareness and engagement with a community and audience.

But there is still room to innovate within our media planning approach despite the focus on the lower funnel. A media planner can always use their creative thinking skills to provide a new plan leveraging a test-and-learn framework in each new campaign. 

The innovation framework can be used in any of the following ways:

Audience: It is a common practice to target or re-target high value audiences who will be more likely to convert online or offline. However, it is recommended to allocate at least 10 per cent of budget to test new audiences. This might be based on demographics, interests or buying behaviour. With the growth of digital ecosystem and increase in 1st and 2nd party data aggregators, we can push advanced data sets to different platforms for activations. You can target your direct competitors’ consumers based on their shopping behaviour or apps they use on their mobiles. 

Platforms: Don’t limit yourself to plan and execute campaigns on the well-known platforms which will generate transactions or allow you to buy on CPA model. By adopting a Data Driven Attribution (DDA) modelling, we started to witness the large impact of platforms used to be considered as upper funnel platforms on direct conversions. An upper funnel platform might be a video, audio or a publisher. There are no limitations on what to test and when
to test. 

Creative and automation: Being present on a limited number of platforms can’t stop you using different variations of creative and ads. It is recommended to use at least two creatives per target audience and placement in order to better understand the audience
reaction towards your messaging and creative approach. 

In addition, start using dynamic creative platforms to enable efficiency, scalability and personalisation. DCO platforms unlock personalisation at scale for advertisers, which allows delivering the right message at the right time on the right moment and platform. 

The improvement in performance in terms of CPA and conversion rates we keep witnessing justifies the tech fee we need to pay to adopt any DCO approach or framework.

Addressability: Audience addressability is one of the most interesting and challenging topics in markets which lack the availability of first or second party data. 

In many cases, we reach a point where we can’t make our high value audience addressable on digital platforms. 

This challenge must encourage you to become more innovative and use your skills to ensure reaching these audiences precisely. 

In some cases, onboarding data sets from data aggregators would be the easiest and the most obvious solution to make the audience addressable on digital platforms. However, this might not be feasible in other cases where the audience profiles are granular and complex. 

New formats: Always try to integrate a new media format in your media plan. This could be an AR/VR placement on your regular social platforms. Another opportunity might be on enabling AI optimisation features on mid/lower funnel platforms. 

In addition, we have started to witness an increase in audience inventory in our region along with new formats on music and audio apps. You are now able to drive full funnel metrics by adopting an audio- first strategic approach. 

Finally, gaming is the never-ending trend of innovation. There is always room to create engaging ads and experience within the gaming ecosystem, be it inside the game or overlaid on top of your gaming experience. 

Media planning will always be an exciting job where it is fuelled with innovation and creative thinking. Innovative media plans drive efficiencies and effectiveness when aligned with the overall marketing objectives for any brand or advertiser. 

In fact, innovation within media planning is essential today to differentiate ourselves versus other brands. Audiences are not interacting anymore with ads; they engage with brands giving them an experience.