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Why marketers focus more on creative rather than media challenges

Media-Challenges
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This post is by Julian Barrans, Business Director, Asia for TrinityP3. Julian has worked as a business, marketing and branding professional for over 30 years, with more than half of that time in the APAC region, working both client side and agency side. A creative business leader who truly understands the importance of team building, working with the right partners as well as making decisions based on sound business strategy and practices.

While some may disagree with this proposition ….let’s consider what’s going on.

Are there more brand challenges that need solving by finding that creative ‘big idea’ versus media planning/buying to target better with greater efficiency?

There’s no doubt that ideally the brand needs creative and media working hand in hand so it should be both that are focused on to get the strongest result for the business.

Though when you think about the campaign brief it usually focuses on developing the creative ‘big idea’ and considers media as a more executional consideration to reach the target audience rather than being integral to the brand campaign solution needed.

So already marketers are putting more time into the creative challenge.

This is exacerbated by the divide between the ‘lead’ creative agency and media buying agency often being different entities and often not always working together seamlessly. This issue can also be compounded where internal marketing structures reflect the agency roster structure and there’s a media director/manager between the brand manager and the media agency.

For that matter there may also be a marketing services or marketing communications manager in the mix too.

Roles, responsibilities, capabilities all need to be considered carefully, ensuring clarity across the agencies and marketing team to get things working effectively here for both creative and media to be working together to deliver the optimal brand solution.

Often the focus on media, beyond consumer audience targeting, is around lowest price to either stretch budgets or to deliver individual campaign ROI measurement/achievement.

Are there more creative agency reviews versus media agency reviews taking place?

Creative agency reviews, if driven by marketers rather than by any procurement rules/processes in place, are usually about creative idea quality first and then about the cost. If there is dissatisfaction with the creative output of the agency or personnel changes such as the CMO changes then you see reviews taking place outside of any contract linked cycle.

Brands are increasingly under threat from competition both current and new so the pressure to cut through with that great creative idea is ever more pressing. Not to mention the pressure on ROI/budgets/overall P&L that are demanding more from creativity in the absence of big budgets that could drive even an average creatively derived brand message into the grey matter of consumers.

Media agency reviews are usually driven around the hunt for better value media and saving money to reduce budgets/deliver cost savings against c-suite derived targets for the business.

Rarely is it about better media planning and a drive for creative media use. So the Media agency review tends to be linked more with contract renewal/procurement processes rather than driven by marketing.

Is it a ‘right brain, left brain’ preference thing in the marketing community?

There has to be something in this. The majority of people in the marketing and advertising industry would have been drawn by the creative opportunities on offer over and above anything else. Over the years as greater ROI, data analytics and science has been brought to bear the former will have changed somewhat but overall must still ring true.

If so, then the drive for creativity will tend to lead to a greater focus on the creative side of the process and media focus may then take a back seat as it were. This is not to say that there aren’t creative people dealing with the media side of things…of course there are and their creativity has been brought to bear to innovate over the years too.

But overall there will be more marketers and advertising professionals drawn to the creative needs of branding and marketing that will lead to more focus on the creative aspects involved therein.

I remember the old saying that the first thing a new brand manager in fmcg wanted to do was to change the packaging….and I never heard any of my marketing team saying let’s focus on media…unless it was about giving more media budget for my project that is!

How should marketers be managing their focus to get the balance right?

The marketers role has never been more complex…where brand communication used to be defined as representing 10-15% of the role’s time ….it now demands far more time for the brand to be effective today.

Why’s that you may ask?…well, media and channel selection is more complex and challenging than ever before. We still have all the traditional media options plus a huge array of digital options at the brand’s disposal.

Also the multitude of media channels provide valuable insight into audiences that can be used to inform creative to better target their needs

Media and channel selection is the largest part of the marketer’s spend and getting it right has more financial upside, while creative concept is the most visible and has the greatest reputational risk/reward aspect.

There are three things marketers should be thinking about as they embark on getting the balance right for their particular situation:

  1. Yes, both creative and media are important and getting both right is absolutely essential
  2. But often there is only lip service given to change and ensuring the right balance of experience and capabilities are represented in the marketing team and agency roster.
  3. To bring about change you need to make real, practical and planned changes …. not just shuffling the pack and focusing on today, but the future fit around where you want/need the brand and business need to be.

Media continues to be the single largest budget item for most advertisers. But media has changed significantly. Find out about our media solutions here

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Julian has worked as a business, marketing and branding professional for over 30 years, with more than half of that time in the APAC region, working both client side and agency side. A creative business leader who truly understands the importance of team building, working with the right partners as well as making decisions based on sound business strategy and practices.

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