It’s that time of year -- time to start planning for 2024. One of those important tasks to start now is building your 2024 media strategy. Media planning is a crucial aspect of a brand's media strategy. The planning process should include researching your competitors’ media efforts, industry trends, new media or tech innovations, and your target audience's behavior. The earlier you start, the more time you have to make informed and data-driven decisions. By starting early, you can align your media and business strategies. This also allows time to allocate budgets and coordinate with creative and production teams.
Great Media Strategy Starts with Planning
Crafting an effective media strategy and executing well-informed media purchases is pivotal for optimizing your advertising return on investment (ROI). At the core of this process lies media planning, a fundamental step that defines the details of a brand’s media strategy expenditures. This encompasses understanding the goals, channels, timeframes, and methods behind every media campaign. It involves shaping messaging, visuals, and content. It also requires budgeting. Establishing a budget helps planners evaluate all possibilities and pinpoint the best campaign packages based on the audience, ad format, and the mix of platforms that will yield optimal outcomes. The last step in planning should be establishing KPIs and a process to measure success.
Our media strategy team is hard at work researching and laying the groundwork for our clients. We are working through a few considerations to make sure they have a successful and profitable 2024.
Media Trends for 2024
In the past year, trends in digital marketing have affected how efficiently we plan and buy media. This lets us give more personalized recommendations to our clients. Here are several innovative tools and practices we are keeping an eye on:
Artificial Intelligence (A.I.)
The rise of A.I. in marketing and advertising will continue transforming the industry in profound ways. Strategists and planners will increasingly rely on AI-powered technologies to analyze vast amounts of data, uncover actionable insights, and automate repetitive tasks. They will use A.I. for idea generation and brainstorming, content creation, research and insights, campaign measurement, competitor analysis, keyword research, and trend analysis or predictions.
A.I. will also play a pivotal role in delivering personalized customer experiences, driving targeted advertising, and optimizing marketing strategies to achieve higher levels of engagement and conversion. It analyzes user behavior, identifies patterns, and uncovers hidden nuances that might have otherwise gone unnoticed. Additionally, A.I.'s predictive capabilities forecast trends, empowering media planners to stay ahead of the curve. Ultimately, A.I. will enable more efficient and effective campaign management.
Digital First Strategies
Adopting a digital-first approach is no longer a choice—it's a strategic imperative for business success. More people are online, making it essential for strategic media planning and execution. A digital-first strategy ensures brand messages meet customers where they are—on their devices, platforms, and screens. Digital media also gives us instant data and analytics to quickly improve performance. This ensures we optimize our clients' resources and plan more successful campaigns. With digital media, analytics are readily available, providing immediate insights into campaign performance. In an ever-evolving landscape, a digital-first approach anticipates and embraces change, even as trends shift, algorithms evolve, and new platforms emerge. This strategy keeps brands nimble and adaptable, ready to capitalize on even more emerging opportunities.
Use of First-Party Data – A Cookie-less Future
In 2024, keeping first-party data in mind will be essential. By selecting channels and media strategies with features that don’t incorporate third-party cookies, our clients will experience less stress when those cookies go away. Using first-party data has many advantages, including enhanced accuracy, reliability, and compliance. With this valuable resource, brands can personalize marketing and advertising campaigns, elevate customer experiences, and establish enduring connections with their target audience. Since we began evaluating this shift in 2021, our team has navigated the ever-changing privacy landscape which has enabled us to execute marketing and advertising efforts that are more efficient and targeted.
Various alternatives have emerged in response to mounting concerns over user privacy and the impending phase-out of third-party cookies. These innovative channels and strategies provide brands new avenues to engage with an audience, addressing privacy concerns while maintaining targeted marketing efforts. Here are five to consider:
- First-party data media platforms using a brand's own data from its website, emails, loyalty programs, and interactions to understand and target its audience.
- Contextual advertising places ads on relevant websites, focusing on content instead of user behavior data. Another approach is to target ads based on the content a user is currently engaging with.
- Email marketing -- engaging with an audience through personalized email campaigns based on preferences and behaviors.
- Content marketing involves creating high-quality content that resonates with a brand’s target audience and drives engagement. While not an actual marketing channel, it is an effective strategy to build customer relationships without relying on cookies.
- Influencer marketing focuses on leveraging an online influencer's connection with their followers. It can be an authentic engagement strategy to connect with a brand’s target audience.
It's important to note that while these channels and strategies offer alternatives to cookie-based targeting, they may still collect some user data. However, they prioritize user consent and opt-in mechanisms, providing a more transparent and privacy-friendly approach to audience engagement. As the first-party data issue evolves, staying informed about emerging privacy-conscious channels and strategies is crucial for effective and ethical digital marketing and advertising.
Diversification of Platforms
One trend our media team has been tracking is the remarkable increase in the need to diversify digital channels. As we venture into 2024, the landscape of online engagement continues to evolve. Smart brands recognize the necessity of branching out beyond the conventional platforms. Increasingly, consumers consume media across multiple channels. It’s essential that brands have the right media mix optimized for their target audience and their brand message. The days of relying solely on Facebook and driving traffic to a website are giving way to a more varied list of digital avenues, each catering to unique audience segments and communication preferences. The list could include influencers, email, SMS, podcasts, online communities or events, and apps, to name just a few. A truly successful media plan will reach the right target audience in the right place at the right time – across multiple mediums. While a brand may have succeeded in one channel or strategy in the past, our team recommends branching out and adding new channels and strategies to its mix for 2024.
The rise of a digital-first media strategy has also driven an increase in data-driven media planning. Selecting media platforms that use comprehensive data analytics and audience insights to guide planning and buying decisions continues to grow. Gone are the days of making educated guesses about where and how to spend marketing and advertising budgets. Platforms that incorporate data analytics can analyze information about the people who use them, such as their age, gender, and interests. They can also reveal how these consumers behave online and what they like to buy. With this knowledge, planners can create strategies that are more personal and relevant. Our team can understand audience demographics and consumer behavior better by prioritizing data from digital platforms. This helps us recommend more effective media strategies.
Easy access to digital data has led brands to make incorrect assumptions about their campaigns. Instant data doesn't always mean instant results.
An Important Secret from the Media Team
Here is the secret our media team would like every client to know -- campaign results are instantaneous, but achieving goals is eventual. Though metrics will begin populating immediately after launching, paid media takes time – time to learn, time to optimize, and time to achieve marketing objectives. Our team recommends clients give each campaign at least six months of run-time before declaring it a success (or failure). Here’s why.
It takes up to three months to acquire enough learnings to make integral decisions about each campaign. It doesn’t make sense to make adjustments after only one or two months. We want to observe critical trends over time results. And then, once we make changes, it takes another three months to measure those results with accuracy.
While a digital-first media strategy offers a treasure trove of data to optimize our client's marketing and advertising budgets, that data is only valuable when we carefully analyze and adjust over time.
2024 Planning Timeline
Our media strategy team has already started discussing 2024 strategy and budgets with clients. We recommend that you use this blueprint to start planning today. It's vital to collect and analyze as much 2023 data as possible and to research the trends in your industry to make the best decisions for 2024 channel investments. You need ample time to set clear campaign goals and objectives, optimize your audiences, select media channels, develop creative, and implement your campaigns.
The Phase 3 media team combines analytics and insights with predictive modeling and years of experience to create compelling media plans that deliver measurable results. Our clients value our commitment to their goals and our respect for their budgets. If you'd like to achieve smarter spending, more reach, and more clarity with your paid media strategy in 2024, contact us today.