The most prevalent software used for media planning today isn’t a revolutionary purpose-built product, but the bland Microsoft Excel. According to the most recent Digiday State of the Industry survey on the topic, more than 75 percent of media planners still use Microsoft Excel for creating their media plans.

Over many years, countless organizations have used Excel to cobble together their media plans. Despite knowing that Excel is not the right solution, it is defaulted to like a toddler to their comfort blanket. Like the toddler-comfort blanket relationship, the advertising industry has outgrown Excel, but refuses to get rid of it due to familiarity, fear of change since it’s seen as good enough, and sometimes pure stubbornness.

For more than 20 years, efforts by good companies to supplant Excel as the dominant media planning tool with purpose-built software have failed. While other aspects of the media buying process – such as insertion orders and invoices – have been well automated, media planning remains obstinate as a manual process with Excel at the core.

Despite its history of invincibility, Bionic aims to topple Excel’s regressive regime with its media planning software. Unlike past failed software attempts, Bionic employs a spreadsheet-like design as its core interface. Described by early adopters as “Excel on steroids,” Bionic gives you the ease and flexibility of Excel, but in a centralized and organized system with dozens of built-in productivity tools to help you at every step in the process – from planning to implementing and even reporting.

Key Differences

  1. Not Built for Media Planning – Since Microsoft Excel is a general-purpose spreadsheet tool, there is no built-in media planning functionality. All your layouts and calculations have to be built from scratch or circulated through the company as a template. The templates can be changed by anyone and the spreadsheets always feel like they’re on the verge of breaking like a fraying rope bridge in Indiana Jones. In contrast, Bionic is purpose built for media planning with rock solid layouts and calculations tested over thousands of media plans.
  2. No Consistency – In Excel, it’s difficult to enforce standards and anyone can accidentally edit formulas, references and data. Bionic provides a consistent work product with dependable coding and nomenclature based on your proprietary standards. Bionic’s version control ensures everyone is working from the same plan so you never have to waste time searching for the latest media plan or scrambling to transfer edits.
  3. Comparable Flexibility – One of Excel’s biggest strengths is its flexibility. You can always add another column or change the format. This is one of the big reasons why other systems have not been successful in replacing it. Bionic is unique in that it matches Excel’s flexibility and enables you to add your own custom columns to your media plans. At the same time, unlike Excel, Bionic enforces your media planning standards across company.
  4. Harder to Use – Everyone knows how to use Excel. However, once you start media planning in the program you’ll discover the process is far from streamlined and sometimes requires special training to create media plans and avoid pitfalls. Bionic employs a familiar and intuitive spreadsheet interface. Plus, since it’s specifically built for media planning, you have access to dozens of tools to help you every step along the way. The reason our customers have referred to Bionic as “Excel on steroids” is due to the familiar interface plus all the typeahead lookups, tools, and built-in calculations.
  5. No Research Capabilities – With Excel, you’re on your own to do your research and information gathering outside the system. Bionic has a built-in, searchable catalog of advertising inventory and products that will help you to reach your market. This helps you make smarter decisions and eliminates rekeying and errors.
  6. No Requests for Proposals (RFPs) – Excel lacks any support for the RFP process. In Bionic, you can create, send, track, receive, and import proposals into your media plan quickly and easily, all within the system.
  7. No Advertising Flowcharts – Creating a flowchart in Excel is about as fun as getting a root canal and a root canal will probably be faster. You and your clients deserve better. Bionic creates beautiful flowcharts with a click of a button.
  8. Poor Analysis Tools – With Excel, it’s difficult to analyze your media plan because it requires advanced pivot tables and hours of setup. Bionic features built-in analysis tools at your fingertips to analyze your media plan by channel, by vendor, by ad unit, and by every other aspect of your media plan.
  9. No Reporting – Reporting is one of Excel’s biggest weaknesses because each media plan is stored in a separate file and coded differently. Therefore, it’s impossible to run reports across media plans. Bionic stores its media planning data in a database and gives you powerful reporting capabilities.
  10. No Collaboration or Version Control – Attempting to collaborate with your colleagues over Excel can quickly turn into a mess of overlapping versions and inconsistent data. Bionic’s version control ensures everyone is working from the same plan so you never have to waste time searching for the latest iteration or scrambling to transfer edits. Plus, you can see a complete history of changes and fall back to a prior version if a mistake was made.
  11. No Organization – With Excel, files are scattered throughout the organization on various hard drives and machines. With Bionic, your media plans are organized by client and centralized in one place.
  12. No Insertion Orders – Creating your insertion orders in Excel is a labor-intensive, error-prone process of copying from spreadsheets into other systems or spreadsheets. Bionic automates the process of creating your insertion order schedules and even supports your custom IO format.
  13. No Ad Server Integration – Rekeying data from Excel into ad servers to can lead to implementation errors when executing your digital media plans. Bionic can automatically traffic your media plans to leading ad servers such as DCM and Sizmek so the data in your media plan is identical to what ends up on the ad server.
  14. No Performance Monitoring – There is no easy way to monitor performance and calculate pacing against your goals in Excel. The best you can hope for is a labor-intensive effort involving a lot of copying and pasting from other systems. With Bionic, your marketing performance data flows in automatically from other systems and is compared against your plans. You can even get alerted if anything is not going as planned.
  15. Low Productivity – Bionic customers report a 30 percent improvement in media planning productivity versus Excel. That’s an extra 2.5 hours per day that you can now dedicate to high-value planning and creative initiatives.
  16. Low Confidence – You can never be 100 confident when doing calculations in Excel. It’s easy for mistakes and typos to go unnoticed in a sea of data cells and your media plans and related documents suffer as a result. Bionic’s calculations are built-in, tested, and proven through thousands of media plans. Now you can always feel confident when delivering plans to your clients.

Did we miss anything?

We’d love your suggestions to improve this competitive review. Please let us know what is missing or wrong. We’ve done our best to present a factually correct review based on readily available information on the internet and third parties to source this information.

Discover Bionic Media Planning Software

Are you looking to ditch Excel? Or maybe just looking for a good media planning system? Go to the media planning software page to learn more about the product and to watch a demo.

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