By Will Bolles

Think of your media plan the same way a football coach looks at an offensive game plan. The coach identifies a KPI (score points) and puts together a game plan that is going to give his team the best chance to succeed. Not every play will lead to a touchdown, but as the game goes on, the coach will have a better idea of what plays are potential scoring plays. In our case, once we have identified the advertisers KPI, we can put together a flexible media plan the same way a coach would game plan prior to a big game.

More likely than not, a football game will start slow. Teams are generally trying to get an understanding on how both running and passing plays will work (think of these plays as tactics) with the end goal of figuring out how to score some points (KPI). Some drives may only last a couple of plays and lead to a punt. Other drives may pick up a couple of first downs, but still not lead to a touchdown. Once the team is finally able to execute a scoring drive, the coach will start shifting focus on the particular plays that were able to move the ball. As the game progresses, the coaches’ game plan becomes much more refined with plays that give the team the best chance to score. This is a lot like how buyers execute a campaign. Although the ‘optimizations’ during a football game are happening much quicker, once buyers have enough data on how each tactic is performing, they are able to make optimizations as they see fit. Flexible media plans allow the campaign to be executed in a way that places emphasis on performance and campaign results, as opposed to making a guess on which tactics will perform best before launching the campaign. The buyer will shift budget towards tactics that are performing best, giving the advertiser the best results possible based on their campaign goal. This is ultimately going to lead to a more cost effective and successful campaign.

Flexibility across tactics and the media plan is key, but flexibility is also important when when selecting tactics/targeting for your media plan. If the targeting within your tactic is more general, it will help to ensure scale, allowing your buyer the ability to optimize within the tactic as the campaign ramps up. Layering on excessive targeting can limit scale, which essentially handcuffs the buyer and limits the success they are able to achieve.

Lastly, be sure to always identify a campaign goal with your advertisers and include as much information as possible when submitting the digital buy. This will help your buying team decide which optimizations are necessary to achieve the advertiser’s goal. While not all of us can game plan at the NFL level, flexible media planning will lead us to the (not yet existing) Digital Advertising Hall of Fame.