Oracle Data Cloud Blog

Audience planning and management: The new keys to media buying

This week’s guest blog post is an abstract from the original published in The Data Source by Karima Zmerli, Ph.D., VP Audience Management and DMP Solution Lead, Merkle Inc.

Many marketers talk about audience management as a key function in today’s marketing, but few have really adopted audience management as part of the campaign process. In fact, many confuse it with media planning and a large majority are not yet exposed to its meaning.

Today’s data is readily available — at the right price and in the right place. So, how should our process and media buy take advantage of it? What is the work flow and who are the new stakeholders involved in the process? We want to address the gap and contribute to the evolution toward a higher adoption of data-driven approaches.

At present, there is still a gap between what can be done versus what is actually being done.

We are all familiar with media planning as a key component of any media buying process, where an agency, after being briefed about marketing objectives and about the primary target, assign a media planner to identify where to buy media.

The planners are mostly looking at syndicated research tools such as Nielsen and comScore to identify which media property and site indexes highest against the target population. This process has literally not changed since the Sixties in the offline channels and the Nineties in digital. Even now, when we have massive data and more tools available to run the process differently and more efficiently, we still rely on the same old syndicated research.

By planning media in this traditional way, we incur a lot of waste (generally between 60-70 percent of what we serve is going outside of the target population). The reason is that we buy the where as a proxy for the who; some might say that programmatic solved for that, but I disagree. Programmatic is mostly based on bid algorithm optimizations and doesn’t account for the “who” in many cases.

Only a few tactics in programmatic do a good job of identifying algorithm-based audiences that work really well, but it’s more of a targeting tool than a true audience planning and management tool.

Audience planning, as well as audience management, is really about the who that you are going after — the where you are buying the audience is a secondary step in this new campaign process.

Audience management is compiled of an approach that enables planning, and that focuses on leveraging data and modeling in order to segment and syndicate to a media platform. 

Change is overdue in this area, in that media planning should be proceeded by audience planning as media optimization choices should be proceeded by audience management.

Audience planning is leveraging data and analytics to build segments, or audiences (lists of users or cookies) that are needed to buy media against.

Optimizing, or managing an audience is the process in which a marketing analyst revisits previously built audiences and based on current performance, changes the composition of the audience to make it perform better.

Read more from this article on page 46 of The Data Source, Fall 2016 edition.

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