Why integrated agencies do smarter media planning and buying

Many advertisers still launch their digital campaigns through traditional media agencies. Much to their own loss: to integrate medium and message is to boost efficiency and impact.


In pre-digital times, media agencies were the missing link between creative execution and audience. They would buy TV or radio advertising space, allowing the advertiser to air creative material. But a lot has changed since then.

Media consumption, for instance, became more complex. Just look at Imec’s latest Digimeter report: 40% of people in Flanders are using streaming services, 15% of young adults have already cut the cord of their television.

Media has changed, which means media buying has changed. Long gone is the time of “simply airing” a campaign and hoping for the best. SEA, social ads, display ads: finding the right media mix has become a science of its own. One at which integrated agencies excel.

The benefits of planning and buying media through an integrated agency

With the rise of digital media, targeting possibilities increased. If TV ads were atomic bombs, social ads are sniper bullets. But... with great power, comes great responsibility.

Medium, message, and sequencing don’t just have to be aligned, they have to be seen as an inseparable unity. They are different sides to the same idea.

Your creative concept can be clever all you want, but if you don’t target the right people at the right place and moment, you’re just wasting their time. And possibly worse: your own money.

Medium, message, and sequencing don’t just have to be aligned, they are inherently inseparable.

At BBDO Belgium, we aim for seamless customer experiences across all channels. Friction is our enemy. From that perspective, it makes a lot of sense to integrate message and medium at the same agency.

Fewer partners equal a smoother process: fewer emails, fewer mistakes, more efficiency. And when lines are shorter, message and medium can be aligned efficiently. “Hey Sarah, single moms click through less than expected. Let’s try another creative?”

At an integrated agency, 1+1=3. When creatives and media experts work closely together, they cross-pollinate. Targeting sparks ideas, and vice versa.

And you’ll also notice that synergy in your messaging: when one single agency takes care of all your touchpoints, you’ll get messaging which works on both digital and traditional channels. All your media will pull in the same direction and your message will stick more easily.

From theory to (best) practice

As an agency that’s creative at heart, it’s one thing to start planning and buying digital media. It’s another to do it well. We outlined 3 guiding principles to help ensure top-notch results:

  1. We focus on addressable media, amplified by data. Video ads, SEA, social ads, audio ads, and programmatic display ads all allow you to send the right message at the right place and time. Which, in turn, makes your communication more relevant and impactful.
  2. We optimize continuously. By doing daily checks on running campaigns, we increase our odds of hitting the business target. Clients are part of this process: standardized dashboards allow them to keep in touch with running campaigns.
  3. We consider owned and earned media too. Because what good is a smart banner, if it leads to a sloppy website? Striving for a seamless customer experience means looking at the full picture.

“OK, makes sense. But how do I know it actually works?”
Well, just look at what we did for MyFamily. 

In January of 2019, the maternity grant system in Flanders changed and MyFamily’s market share quickly dropped to 24,6%. In April they switched digital agencies and came to BBDO for our (digital) media planning and buying expertise. 

We implemented a 4-step plan:

  1. We used above-the-line ads (TV, radio) for awareness and digital for conversion.
  2. We made straight-forward, different and recognizable creatives.
  3. We optimized vigorously: we implemented 32 changes and ran 7 tests in 4 months.
  4. We narrowed targeting from 18-45 y/o women to pregnant women.

It wasn’t long before we started to reach more conversions at a lower cost. MyFamily became the factual market leader in July, only 3 months after the start of our campaign.
Graph-v1And that’s how you create effectiveness.
It’s not rocket science, but it does take more thought than “just airing on TV and radio”

Written by Franky Willekens, Chief Strategy Officer
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