Today's technology allows marketers to achieve a level of targeting and personalisation that would have been the stuff of dreams just a few years ago, but instead of taking full advantage of these amazing new tools, most marketers are still using the same old broken approach to media that has wasted our budgets – and frustrated our audiences – for decades. 

It's time we put a stop to that. In this new episode of Inspiring Marketing, we look at how marketers can evolve from interruption and irritation, and use context planning to deliver more meaningful audience value.

Watch the full video here:

If you'd like to dig deeper into the content, you'll find all the slides from this show in the SlideShare embed below, as well as the full audio transcript for the video below that.

And if that still doesn't quite answer all your questions, or if you'd like to have a chat about how these topics will impact you and your business, feel free to get in touch with me on LinkedIn or Twitter, or click here to drop me an email.


Welcome back to another episode of Inspiring Marketing

Today, we’re looking at how to improve our approach to media planning, so that we’re delivering meaningful impact, instead of constantly interrupting people

The fact that we’re still resorting to interrupting people with our marketing baffles me, because the tools that are available to us today allow us to achieve a level of sophistication that – even 20 years ago – few marketers could even have dreamt of.

Today’s internet technologies – from programmatic buying to real-time creative – really do allow us to deliver the right message, to the right people, in the right places, and at the right times – something we’ve been dreaming of for decades as an industry.

Not only that, but things like social log-ins and cookies allow us to identify specific individuals all across the web too, so – if we’re paying attention – we can identify exactly who we’re talking to, and we can also learn all sorts of things about what those individuals like, what they’re interested in, what they care about… and also what they don’t like.

Because of this, we have all the tools we need to be able to create the kind of marketing that audiences actually want – if we choose to.

Today’s marketers also have access to tools that allow them to aggregate the behaviours of millions of people across billions of interactions, and if we use them correctly, these insights can enable us to predict – with a pretty good degree of confidence – precisely what any given individual is going to do next on a particular website.

We can even construct tailored creative on the fly, ensuring that an ad being served is optimised for a specific individual, on a specific website, at a specific time of day.

These tools really should allow us to stop interrupting people randomly across the internet, and deliver marketing that actively engages them instead.

However, most marketers seem to be using these amazing new tools just to do more of the same stuff they’ve always done. They’re still planning and buying the same old media placements, instead of using these tools to identify optimised opportunities to actively engage people.

But that’s broken.

Conventional media placements are specifically designed to distract people’s attention from what we were trying to do in the first place. The word ‘advert’ even comes from ‘advertere’, a Latin word which means “to turn towards” – or, in other words, to divert someone’s attention from what they were originally paying attention to.

If we’re trying to divert someone’s attention from something that they’re doing, there’s a very good chance that we haven’t found the right time or the right place to engage them.

All of that means that we’re fundamentally failing on at least half of our task as marketers. We might well be delivering the right message to the right people, but too often, we’re still delivering those messages in the wrong places and at the wrong times, and that means that we’re no longer delivering the best message.

At best, this sort of marketing is just ignored or feels a bit awkward, but there’s a very real danger that these ill-timed messages will actually embarrass our brands, and do active damage to our results.

So why are we persisting with this broken model?

Well, one reason is that – oddly – these new tools also enable us to interrupt people more efficiently than we used to be able to. So, from a short-term, selfish perspective, using these tools for the same old media planning make it easier for myopic marketers to hit their immediate KPIs.

But this isn’t a sustainable approach, because interruption runs totally counter to the fundamental purpose of marketing.

Our task as marketers is to deliver the profitable satisfaction of people’s wants, needs and desires.

But we’re clearly not achieving that if we’re interrupting people, because – by definition – nobody wants to be interrupted. If we really want to engage people, we’re going to need to do things differently.

We need to make an effort to understand where and when our marketing is going to be most relevant and meaningful in our audience’s lives, and plan around that instead.

As always, of course, the next question is ‘how?’, but – as is so often the case in marketing – the answer relies on simple common sense.

We need to plan our marketing around people’s lives and motivations – i.e. where we can be most useful – and not just around the media locations where we might find people.

Improving our approach is as simple as identifying where and when our marketing can add the greatest value to our audience’s lives, instead of simply identifying where we can find the greatest number of them, regardless of what they’re doing at that time.

The times and places in which we can add the greatest value – when we can make the most meaningful difference to our audience’s lives – are what we might call 'magic moments'.

Of course, the trick is finding where and when these occasions exist, but that brings us back to the point that we explored at the beginning of this episode. Today’s marketing technologies allow us to understand where and when these magic moments occur, and they also allow us to deliver optimised messages to specific individuals in those exact moments.

None of this is futuristic prediction either; it’s all technology that is available to digital marketers all over the world today.

So let’s make better use of these amazing resources.

Let’s commit to stopping making interruptive ads, and commit to making a more concerted effort to deliver meaningful value to our audiences at the moment of greatest relevance instead.

Key tip

It's time to plan our marketing connections around the moments when our brands are most relevant to our audiences, and stop buying generic media placements simply to maximise mindless reach.