I recently discovered Mind Node, an app that allows you to create a mind map on any topic. Mind maps are great tools for visualizing information and when I did a sample mind map on Media planning, the results on the left, made it instantly clear why digital marketing can be so overwhelming for business and marketing people. It’s a quantity versus quality issue.
The shear and growing size of the innumerable digital and social media choices — shown in blue and green on the left side of the chart — is daunting. Traditional media is shown on the right side of the chart in yellow and lime green. The broadcast node (bottom right in lime green) has four elements — Television, Cable, Radio and Pandora. Pandora, or more correctly satellite radio, could arguably be included in the radio node, pruning broadcast down to 3 nodes versus the 8 and growing nodes under social media.
One of the best books ever written on media planning is Sissors and Baron’s Advertising Media Planning, now in its 7th edition. As the book notes, digital advertising really began in 1995 with Yahoo!, and now, less than 10 years later, digital option nodes already outweigh traditional media options.
It’s important to note that social media was not developed as an advertising medium, but increasingly with revenue pressures and opportunities looming large, first Facebook and now LinkedIn and Twitter have developed advertising options. Hence, advertising complexity has increased in direct relationship to the growth of advertising choices.
Marketing is far more than advertising, so the complexity in marketing is even more exponential. Marketing people have embraced and need to be literate in each medium, and the subsequent learning curve can be overwhelming. When you look at the mind map, is it little wonder that business people cannot handle their own social media, and that most marketing departments also are not staffed up to meet the challenge?
In fairness, to some degree the challenges were always great even with traditional media. For instance, the newspaper node in 2011 represents 1,382 daily newspapers , according to Editor & Publisher, an industry trade magazine. Although newspapers adopted Standard Advertising Units (SAUs) to make sizes more uniform across papers, paper sizes still vary and each newspaper has its own rate structures, deals and combo packages. Due to the number of papers, many agencies and media planners opt to buy newspaper space through centralized buying services, and many newspaper groups such as the New Jersey Press Association have set up a one stop buying service for papers in the Garden State, PA and NY. Now imagine putting together a national campaign and one that includes much more than papers!
Putting together a media budget is a true reach and frequency jig saw puzzle with infinite options. What’s the budget? How many people do you want to reach? How often and consistent can you afford to reach them?
Add to this that social media is so much more than advertising. It is about audience engagement, growth, interaction with advertising simply as a side note. A great Facebook marketing person needs to understand contest rules, have familiarity with some third-party services or apps, understand Facebook advertising, have a reputation or monitoring service, know Facebook analytics, and that’s just to name a few skill sets.
I could argue all those skill sets were also always critical in traditional mass media, except that mass media marketers just didn’t know it at the time. Still, the mind map does what it’s supposed to do:
- Visually show us how all elements are needed in a true integrated plan
- Show how the digital side is growing out of proportion to traditional media
- Indicate the increasing complexity needed in modern media planning
A Take-away: Don’t spread yourself too thin. No one can be an expert in everything. Use a mind map in your own strategic planning to determine the elements most critical to your success and the resources need to be great at those few elements. It’s fair to say most marketing departments are not staffed well enough to any one node well, much less all of them.