From the outside looking in, media planning seems like a pretty linear, cut and dry process. Anyone who has actually built and executed a plan will beg to differ. In 2011 we sought to discover exactly how many steps were required to create and execute a digital media plan. The answer? 42 steps.
That is a lot of steps for anyone to navigate. Now imagine trying to track the progress of multiple media plans for a diverse set of clients while organizing your teams and collaborating between departments. That’s what today’s media organizations deal with on a daily basis. This has led to many restless nights and panicked, late night phone calls to double check that the insertion order was sent and the right ad was trafficked. To add to this stress, you know that if you don’t get everything 100 percent right, your client will notice and admonish you for your mistakes.
If it already wasn’t complicated enough, most steps are reliant on one another. A shift in details in one area impacts all subsequent steps. Take the occurrence of a delay in finalizing the creative, which is a common area to trigger a timeline shift. Since the creative was delayed you will no longer be able to meet the trafficking deadline. Now you’ll have to go back to your sales rep and hope that you can adjust the inventory. This, of course, has far-reaching impacts for the rest of the media plan including the ability to reach your goals, budgets, the timing of reporting, and billing.
The fallout from forgotten or incorrect tasks will not only result in disarray, stress, and late nights in the office, but can also cost you money and even your job or clients. How can you be certain all of the boxes are checked and nothing falls through the cracks?
What media planners are currently using
Our recent survey of Bionic Media Planner customers shows that an overwhelming amount still use traditional methods such as pen and paper or personal checklists to stay on top of their task. While this can work for the most diligent of planners, it leaves much to be desired, especially in team settings. A major issue with relying on offline methods is it severely hampers the ability to coordinate on projects. It also lacks any built-in communication mechanism to share your progress and details on deliverables. Short of long email chains or meetings, there is no quick way to ensure that everything is still on target. The bottom line is that offline methods can be useful for managing yourself, but it’s an isolated system that is far from ideal for managing the holistic media planning process.
The survey also showed a fair amount use separate software solutions for project management. However, a large percentage of them are unhappy with their current system. There is a number of reasons for this, but many revolved around the fact that marketers are already over inundated with platforms and stretched for time. Being forced to log into yet another program for project management is a significant barrier to entry and consumes valuable time.
Utilizing general purpose project management software solves the isolation problems of offline solutions, but at the cost of decreased efficiency. Since the systems are separate, project management ends up stealing time and focus away from media planning. This can really get you out of your groove and results in team members being inconsistent with their updates and communication. Many choose to bulk edit their tasks and communications since they can’t afford the time needed to update as they go or simply forget. Some even neglecting the system as a whole due to it becoming more burdensome than it is worth. Rather than a fluid, up-to-date project management chart you’re left with blocks of completed tasks and sparse amounts of notes or details.
Media planners need a project management system integrated with the media planning process
Nobody wants another login or another system to maintain. Using a separate project management system means more copy and pasting. Media planners already deal with too much of that.
The survey also provided valuable insights into what media planners would like improved in project management. As we touched on earlier, many project management systems require planners to juggle the software they use for media planning and the project management system, which torpedos a lot of its usefulness. Planners want a way to quickly reference, update, and create tasks while knee deep in their plans. The ability to seamlessly flow from efficiently completing your tasks to collaborating with coworkers on upcoming ones is important to success.
Managing yourself is one thing, but keeping an organization on track is a much more daunting challenge. Media planning, like any team venture, requires good communications and coordination to succeed. According to a Harvard Business Review article, simply having everyone on the team knowing their responsibilities has the most impact on the success of a project. In order to optimize efforts, it’s important for every member to be able to reference what everyone is responsible for so there is no duplication or conflicting work. If a co-worker calls in sick the deadlines don’t wait and someone needs to pick up the slack. The project management system needs to be a place where you can easily get up and go on any pending deliverables that you need to tag in on.
Our goal at Bionic is to be a truly all-in-one solution for media planners and this survey made it abundantly clear that project management is a piece of the puzzle that many programs overlook. After looking at the landscape of project management software we realized that simply integrating with available options wouldn’t be enough and have decided to build project management into the Bionic platform. The project management tools will help customers to track progress across the entire media planning process as well as collaborate with team members all in the same system that you build your plans in. This should lead to more restful nights and less last minute scrambles due to overlooked tasks.