paid mediaInsights are the cornerstones of any media strategy, both in digital as in the classical channels. These insights are getting richer and richer, due to the increasing fragmentation of media channels and a growing number of devices being used. Secondary data collected from various sources are finding their way into the strategy plan of companies and agencies. While market research and sales data played a dominant role for a long time, the number of so-called real-time data and signals are gaining momentum and need to be considered in the strategic planning.

The mentioned signals are combined data streams from digital channels, such as posts on Facebook or Twitter, profile information, Likes, Shares and reactions to issues or visits to various sites. Users are constantly giving signals that mediate in turn information on interests, needs and acquisition plans.

The processing of this data belongs on the operational level to the tools of a Media Planner or Account Manager. They are in particular basis for an efficient advertising in search, affiliate, eCRM, performance display and ‘paid social’, where the proportion of tactical control has a special focus.

Hence, strategic planning requires a stringent approach in the integration of data to ensure the orchestration of actions, especially since individual measures are integrated into a customer journey planning based on an ‘Insights Driven Media Strategy’. Only the combination of learned, classical approaches to insights generation, and conversion to strategic concepts with the new signals, complements such a strategy.

The digital media business is complex with many characteristics. The versatile channels and media, however, can roughly be summarized in three areas: Owned Media, channels that are exclusively played by the company; Paid Media, purchased media services; and Earned Media, such as Word-of-Mouth or viral effects.

Each of these areas plays one or more roles in the media strategy with a situation-dependent strength. For instance, earned media is usually given the most potential reach, however, the role between paid and earned media performance blurs over an increasing commercialization of social channels, forums and blogs. This is probably also due to the fact that through improved data and related targeting capabilities in the paid channels, reach can be increasingly expanded by providing more relevance. The goal of Data-Driven Marketing in strategic planning is therefore to ensure the best performance in the respective areas and to support the respective roles optimally within the customer journey:

Paid Media: Here it is all about the continuous improvement of the tactically embossed modulation of measures - from bid strategies at keyword level to playout of adapted measures on mobile devices, and from a strategic perspective the insights-based definition of relevant channels, contact frequencies and targeting for comprehensive reach while retaining control of wastage.

Owned Media: Data are here the relevant sources to provide relevant content that is not only entertaining customers, but also encouraging them to interact with the brand. It is not just about editorial content on the website or the social channels, but all types of advertising media play here an important role - whether digital or traditional. The crucial question is: What message needs to reach which target group, when is it exactly delivered, via which channel or placement, in which format and in what kind of creative way? From these seven basic criteria, each with different characteristics, result almost endless combination possibilities in the digital realm that can only be prioritized data assisted.

Earned Media: Since this area is the least controlled by companies, the strategic use of data is seen as differentiated from the other two areas. Here it is more about observing how content, often injected via Owned or Paid Media, spreads and changes due to the user. Deployed are here data to support developments, control to a small extent, and also to set up non-injected subjects. Since this has to happen in real-time, the basis for this is a strategic planning on how to react to possible developments and which basic orientations have to follow these quick reactions to serve the corporate objective -  and might also be able to be implemented in the short term without complex coordination processes.

Another connection between Earned Media and the data-driven strategic planning lies in the fact that this area is per se one of the most relevant sources for the aforementioned signals and more suitable for market research approaches from the area of social monitoring and analytics.

As already mentioned, the major challenge is the integration of signals in the proven planning steps of the strategy development processes. The success factor is to combine the human intellect to abstract hypotheses with the technical possibilities of data provision and analysis. Without this combination, there is a danger to accumulate just more and more data and get lost in it, or rather to secure the all too important quick wins in a rapidly rotating media world.

For the realm of marketing and media, the construct of the Customer Journey provides an important orientation guide. Strategic planning based on the customer journey has the advantage that the model is used both for simplification of contexts and thus the operationalization, but at the same time secures the orientation of sub-projects of the Data-Driven Marketing. Not to mention that a consistent customer journey viewing allows to overcome the frequent threshold between strategic planning and operational implementation.

By Daniela La Marca