Strata, founded in 1984 and acquired by Comcast in 2005 and recently rebranded as Freewheel, provides media buying workflow automation. Its strength is in creating and managing insertion orders across all types of media – digital and traditional – and its installed base of more than 1,000 advertising agencies. Its weaknesses are a lack of support of the media planning process before the order, its antiquated software technology, lack of innovation, and high price.

In contrast, Bionic media planning software provides a complete media planning tool on a modern cloud-based infrastructure at a reasonable price. Although the Bionic and Strata products overlap and compete with one another, both products are sometimes used together at agencies – Bionic for media planning and Strata for media buying.

Key Differences

  1. Being Phased Out – The Strata brand has been discontinued and rolled into Freewheel. The focus has shifted to video advertising media sales, particularly digital. The legacy Strata software is being phased out, and is not important to Comcast nor Freewheel. In contrast, Bionic is 100% focused on media investment management software and investing 100% of R&D into improving it.
  2. Not for Media Planning – Strata is not considered a true media planning system because you cannot use the Strata software to construct a media plan. Instead, Strata clients use Microsoft Excel to create their media plans and then rekey into Strata when they are ready to create insertion orders. It also defeats the purpose of having a system because it hobbles collaboration, versioning, research, analysis and adopts all the problems of Excel. In contrast, Bionic customers that use the Bionic interface to create their media plans report a 30 percent improvement in media planning productivity over Excel. That’s how it should be, right?
  3. Obsolete Technology – Strata is built using 1990s software technology that must be installed on your machines. They offer a “hosted” solution, but it’s still installed software that suffers from all the problems of installed software – accessibility issues without the correct client software, maintenance problems, and high cost of ownership. In contrast, Bionic provides its software through a modern, cloud-based system. If you have a web browser and an internet connection, you can securely access your media plans through Bionic.
  4. Disconnected Modules – Strata is organized into various modules organized by media channel. You use one module for planning print media, another module for planning broadcast media, another module for planning digital media, and so on. But what if you have a multi-channel media plan? With Strata, there’s no way to plan across media channels and to see your entire media plan in one place. Bionic enables you to plan every penny of your media budget across all your media channels in one unified interface.
  5. Owned by Comcast – Strata is owned by Comcast, which is not known for investments in software and limits its agility. In contrast, Bionic is a standalone software company that moves quickly because it doesn’t have to get budget and plan approvals up and down the corporate ladder to build new technology.
  6. Lack of Innovation – In the fast past world of advertising, you’re either quick or you’re dead. While innovative when it was first released in the 1980s, Strata has been slow to innovate and has fallen behind the times. Bionic has a proven track record of recent innovation with software upgrades every few weeks to help you stay on the leading edge to dominate the industry.
  7. Research Data Not Included – Strata requires you to add research data from third parties in order to conduct audience research. Bionic has a built-in, searchable catalog of advertising inventory and products that will help you to reach your market.
  8. No Requests for Proposals (RFPs) – Strata 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.
  9. No Advertising Flowcharts – Strata does not create advertising flowcharts, which is one of the most important documents in the media planning process. Bionic creates flowcharts with a click of a button.
  10. No Media Plan Presentations – Strata is of no help when you need to create presentations, which are critical in the process of getting approval for your media plan. Bionic creates comprehensive PowerPoint presentation chock-full of graphs, charts, reports and company logos directly from your media plan. Save hours of time and eliminate errors and omissions.
  11. Weak Performance Monitoring – Strata can’t monitor your marketing performance and pacing against your goals. This is like having a finance system that lets you create budgets but doesn’t allow you to track your revenue and expenses against that budget. With Bionic, your marketing performance data flows in automatically from other systems and is compared against your plans. It’ll even alert you if anything is not going as planned.
  12. No Product Transparency – Strata doesn’t provide product demonstrations or screenshots on their website. They require you to see the product through a salesperson. There’s probably a reason for that. In contrast, Bionic gives you an online product demonstration that shows you all the key features of the system at your own pace without a salesperson pressuring you.
  13. No Operational Support – If you have Strata installed on your machines, you are responsible for all the IT operations – hardware, operating systems, networking, backups, security, software upgrades and disaster recovery. You basically have to run a data center with specialized staffing and that’s expensive. Bionic comes with complete business service that includes all the software, upgrades, and an enterprise-class data center operation. Bionic handles it all for you so you can focus on your own business instead of running an IT operation.
  14. High Price – Strata doesn’t post prices on its website. You have to ask for a price quote. It’s reputed to be very expensive. With Bionic, you get no nonsense pricing including software, upgrades, and all the support you need for $125 per user per month.
  15. Inflexible Terms – With Strata, you are locked into a long term contract. With Bionic, you get flexible month to month licensing and a money-back satisfaction Guarantee. You can upgrade, downgrade, or cancel anytime.

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.

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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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