Remember when media was media? Three television networks allowed you to reach 80 percent of the population. The Internet was still a government tool to help fight wars. Media planning was an afterthought. First came strategy, then came creative, and then we said, ‘did media come up with a plan yet?’ Tell them we have to have TV.
Advertising was based on a simple funnel concept called the Hierarchy of Effects. The funnel said, push messaging out using these three networks and some print and radio, and people will become aware, form an opinion, make a commitment to buy, and then stay loyal to the brand–the traditional push/pull advertising model. Then the model broke—actually, it shattered into thousands of fragments.
After Al Gore re-invented the Internet (wink), everything changed and the funnel was turned on its head. Now, people started to form opinions based on well, other people. Networks and communities arose, and some voices were stronger than others. And the others followed.
Social media went from an interesting idea to one of the most powerful tools in the toolbox. Why? Because advocacy started to help form people’s opinions before branding. This is the polar opposite of the shotgun approach of many forms of traditional media.
So where does this leave us? What is media? The answer: It is a series of connections. Today’s media mix is about finding the best ways to connect with the consumer or decision maker.
It is about finding the best ways to connect with the target, with our planning, account and creative peers, and with the ever-increasing world of vendors who bring new ideas to the table every day. Together, we have the opportunity to become an incubator of media firsts via all of the emerging outlets as well as the tried-and-true.
In fact, sometimes the best route is still the traditional route. That aspect of the mix isn’t broken. There is nothing to fix. We just need to connect the old with the new. Awareness building and advocacy are far stronger together than separately.
There is more creativity and excitement around developing media plans than ever before. And the way we connect with our audiences will only continue to become deeper, richer and more engaging. For folks involved in media planning, or better yet, connections planning (such as myself) there has never been a better time to be alive.