Media planning and buying were once considered two separate functions. Planners would develop the strategies and the overall campaign direction, and buyers made the inventory purchases and optimized the campaign once performance data was compiled.

Then over time, planning, and buying began to more tightly collaborate as agencies saw the benefits of increased efficiency and enhanced performance stemming from merging planning and buying, including the optimization of campaigns mid-flight. Now some agencies are also merging creative with media to promote increased cost efficiency, faster time to market, and the ability for planning, buying and creative to work together in order to optimize messaging in real time. 

New Synergies Have Replaced Old Silos

In the earlier “analog” years of advertising, multiple creative executions were developed and tested to determine which one had the most pulling power. Additional research was conducted to arrive at the audience targeting and segmentation strategy. From there, buyers would run the best-testing creative against the best-testing audience and then wait for the results to see where to improve the next media flight. The problem with this laborious and highly linear approach was the tendency for a lot of the sophisticated media planning to get diluted or lost between conducting the research and executing the buy.

However, as advertising made its migration to digital, post-flight research was replaced with real-time performance data. At the same time, consumers began to expect advertising to deliver the same level of personalization they were becoming accustomed to online. Agencies and their clients quickly realized the secret to increasing their ROI and conversion rates was for media and creative to share performance data and then work in tandem to help develop more engaging, personalized messaging and optimizing campaigns in real-time. Pre-programmatic, that was simply not possible. Thankfully, we are no longer in an era of running surveys and then waiting days for the post-campaign insights. As real-time creative and programmatic media continues to spiral tighter, it may be time to reevaluate creative being a separate function or even being at a separate agency versus the traditional silos which slow the trajectory of a campaign entering the market.

In the existing silos, creative is often developed before agencies even run the media plan and usually requires adjusting to leverage insights gained in the planning process. Producing creative in isolation before planning, or irrespective of data, is not only incredibly expensive (think of a Super Bowl spot) but often lacks the personalization that could be added if only those insights were known. A recent study from Forrester Consulting and Emarsys found that 52% of firms are able to manage real-time customer interactions with the brand. In another study, a whitepaper from the IAB and Winterberry group found that 96% of responding media and marketing executives are committed to leveraging audience data to influence their business processes. Marketers are starting to realize that data should influence media strategy, audience identification, and the creative process co-equally. The next step to take the fullest advantage of that data would be to fuse media and creative into one synergistic function. 

Tighter Collaboration Could Result In Greater Personalization

A closer relationship between media and creative also fosters collaboration that could result in messaging that’s more relevant to the needs and interests of the consumer. And in the current world of billions of messages vying for the consumer’s attention contrasted by increased consumer apathy and greater instances of ad blocking, getting the messaging, audience and creative right could make the difference between an ad being acted upon or being ignored.

As more agencies are seeing the value of fusing planning and buying, now is the time for media agencies and creative agencies to also embrace the benefits of integration. Using data as the great unifier and connector, once disconnected silos can work better and smarter together and building off one another to deliver advertising that truly is welcomed. And for those who are not yet ready to evolve, should keep in mind: Media agencies, advertisers and creative shops adopting data-driven insights are poised for continued revenue growth and competitive differentiation, while those who refuse to make the shift could quickly become outdated and outmaneuvered.