Media Planning is suddenly cool again


Liam Walsh writes: It wasn’t that many years ago that Singo was calling media buyers wombats. Now it seems everybody is doing it, or at least trying it.

The chaps at Mumbrella were referring to a story in adnews about creative and other agencies getting into the media planning game.

You can read here to see who the players are. It’s a lot.

I have to say I could not disagree more about this being a bonanza for media buying. It will be a distraction.

The argument that it will be beneficial for remuneration is also something I find hard to get. More competition in a market which has lots of players barely covering costs means more pressure on pricing not less.

Customers won’t suddenly see the light because more people want to be media planners.

If media planning wants more fees it needs to do a better job. This is not an insult it is just an observation about the market and the pricing. If there were really excellent agencies they would have great market share with great (high) prices. You don’t see both.

Also there should be more meat around what the new media planners (inside creative agencies) will deliver besides ‘integration’. That is not actually new nor is it’s output measurable.

Ben Shepherd writes: These are the sorts of posts I am meant to disagree with Liam on but have to say I think he’s on the money here.

I think in the media world there is a general culture of fear that needs to be stamped out. Fear of clients, fear of asking for fair payment, fear of the media going straight to clients … sometimes it seems like the timid kid that doesn’t really know its place and is to scared to ask to play with the big kids. Problem is – that is the only thing holding it back … media agencies have the strategic skill, insight, experience and data required to play a greater role. Many already do across some clients.



5 responses to “Media Planning is suddenly cool again

  1. While I wouldn’t dare disagree with you both… I completely disagree with you both.

    The potential benefit for the sector here isn’t the increased competition, it’s the focus on moving away from the commoditised part – the buying. So that far, you’re right: it’s absolutely not a “bonanza for media buying“.

    If clients can be reminded/ educated that there’s big value in great planning/ strategy, then those who are having to virtually give it away will be better rewarded , and those who don’t do it well will need to get their acts together.

    And (with apologies for my optimism) that will make the media agency landscape a far more interesting place.


    Tim – Mumbrella

  2. Maybe creative agencies, planning media will operate with a level of insight, transparency and unbiasedness in their recommendations, focused on idea integration and REAL media neutrality. It is certainly what is needed, a recommendation devoid of meeting a network / publisher deal, OMI (other media income) etc. I’ve only had the pleasure of working with one media agency with true independence and the experience is always excellent.

    Unfortunately this isn’t the case in 100% of all situations / recommendations from some (not all) incumbents, especially in digital media where a whole range of mixed motives and bad reporting comes into play.

    Liam your thoughts……

  3. iamcontrarian

    Hi Justin, Liam here.

    I don’t know why a creative agency would operate with insight, transparency and unbiasedness (I am also not convinced that is actually a word) or media neutrality.

    Or rather I don’t know know why they would be better at delivering on these elements than a regular media agency?

    I am very confident every agency (well nearly every agency) is aiming for all these attributes. Sometimes it doesn’t seem that way but fundamentally most media buyers and strategists I have met want to do the best thing for their client.

    If the volume deals compromise independence, then that is a function of the volume deal but there is no reason a creative agency wouldn’t strike exactly the same deal and have exactly the same problem.

    I was recently told we couldn’t be included on a campaign because the agency was behind on it’s commitments. I didn’t like it one little bit but I have empathy for their position as they are goaled on price and prices are sometimes lower with a commitment.

  4. All agencies are looking for new revenue streams and the opportunity for a bigger slice of a shrinking pie. This, and the growing trend back to full service is why we’re seeing creative agencies getting into media strategy.

    Justin not sure you could say creative agencies can take an unbiased approach. They make a lot more money out of producing a TVC than a print ad for example.

    The only way to truly secure independence is to divorce creative production from strategy or make all remuneration performance based but that has it’s own challenges. Clients are looking to streamline agency relationships.

    In the end they just want good work and are less concerned about who does what bit.

  5. Liam – your comment is spot on and i completely agree with you…

    If creative agencies started media planning & buying they too would fall into the same position as all media agencies with buying commitments etc

    It’s a naive position to assume otherwise….

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