As the dark nights set in and thoughts are very much about the new year, marketers are knee-deep preparing their marketing budgets for 2017. If recent commentary is anything to go by, they are likely to be flat at best.
Also, some significant developments within the media industry this year will have many marketing chiefs considering how best to work with media agencies and ad tech providers and how to manage and measure performance in the coming year.
Below are 10 key actions marketers should take to ensure the right course is taken as they make their way through the planning process.
1. Review your contract; it almost certainly needs updating: Look at your contract to ensure its fit-for-purpose, reducing potential value/data leakage and minimizing avoidable costs. There’s a lot at stake. Ensure you are in control and not at the behest of your agencies and partners.
2. Be proactive about optimizing your media investments: Set up a proactive management process to ensure your agencies and internal teams have plans and targets in place to optimize your media investments. This won’t happen on its own. Specific actions and goals should be negotiated and agreed on.
3. Make sure you know what working media you are buying: Understanding where and with whom your budgets are being spent is imperative. Media owner provenance is important here as it goes to the heart of value creation, transparency, and performance.
4. Make sure you’re on top of media performance: There’s no point in discovering you could’ve done better in Q1 2018. Budgets are unlikely to be up in 2017, so making media money work harder will be a priority. More effective, more efficient, more viewable, and more human. Soft legacy metrics won’t cut it. Update your KPIs to drive desired behaviors and targeted outcomes (and don’t forget to recalibrate your PBR).
5. Effective use of ad tech/mar tech is a game-changer: Make sure it’s working for you. Whether in-house or outsourced, stress test your tech to ensure it is delivering and is aligned with your business requirements. If it isn’t working for you, fix it. Change the tech, the processes, or the people. When implemented and deployed properly, it’s too powerful to ignore.
6. Get to know your key media and technology partners: If you don’t, your competitors will. There are many exciting advancements happening in the media and technology industry, but only a handful of really great opportunities. Knowing firsthand your key media owners, content creators, and technology companies could pay huge dividends.
7. “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there:” To really understand customers, most marketers need to be developing or have a strategy for omnichannel marketing analytics. If you’re not getting high-quality analytics and insight, you should be asking why and seeking it out.
8. Customer first. Period: If you’re being encouraged to think platform, media, or tech first—don’t! You’re almost certainly getting the wrong advice and probably for the wrong reasons.
9. Review your scope of work and FTEs to make sure the right team resources are in place: As marketers’ requirements change, so will the scope of work and the capabilities and resources necessary to execute them. Make sure you have the right people doing the right things at the right time in the right proportions; otherwise you’re wasting money.
10. Data is king: Properly leveraged first-party data, underpinned by smart technology and well-governed data strategies, will enable marketers to deliver demonstrable value in 2017. If you don’t currently control your own data, make this a priority.
In a rapidly evolving media marketplace, marketers must continue to adapt and exercise much greater control over their media ecosystem. The annual planning process provides an opportunity to evaluate agency and supplier relationships and ensure you are organized not just for optimal performance in the coming year, but also for the longer term.