Media buying and media planning – the two of the most significant parts of an effective campaign, in the most ideal situation, complement each other; and, when they don’t, suffers the campaign. What ensures the perfect synchronization in the two has always been argued across the media fraternity and the advertiser. This age-old debate enthused us at exchange4media while planning the subject for Knowledge Series. We felt, the one that’s more important, takes the precedence.
And, accordingly, the second session of the Mumbai Knowledge Series addressed the question: Which is gaining precedence, Media Buying or Media Planning? Knowledge Series – a confluence of some of the most accomplished names of the Indian media world and representatives from Corporate India, debated on the issue from different perspectives.
The panel of speakers for this session included Sandip Tarkas (CEO, OMD), Punitha Arumugam (CEO-West, Madison Media), Vikram Sakhuja (MD, Mindshare Fulcrum), Raj Nayak (CEO, NDTV Media), Sulajja Motwani (Joint MD, Kinetic Engineering) and Praveen Tripathi (President, Zenith Media). Moderating the session was Meenakshi Madhvani who has started her independent venture - Spatial Access Solutions.
As Nayak felt, “Media has been made into a commodity. Many companies have different planning and buying agencies. Each of them has their egos and KRAs and at the end of the day they have to prove their capabilities. Most of the times buyers buy what the planner has not planned for and, at times what has been planned is not bought. In the entire scenario the client is the one who suffers the most.” He advised: “The two functions have to be combined and the buyer and the planner both have to rise beyond personal appraisals.”
Taking the advertiser’s perspective, Motwani observed the need for multiple exposures. “Different models exist for different channels and there are diverse set of customers. Multiple exposures are very important for an advertiser. The customer has to be reassured about the post purchase phase. Hence, lots of efforts are rehired to be put in for making the right media plan,” she said.
Dwelling on the effective measures that could settle the issues, the Kinetic executive added: “There is a need for media industry to develop non-conventional media. More tools for planning need to be brought effectively. A central agency should exist for Media buying and Media Planning. The media agency is required to have a holistic approach for the brand. This calls for more attention in buying rather than planning as supply exceeds the demand.”
When the argument between the media and the customer appeared to be a never-ending Waterloo, Sandip Tarkas came up with a different approach. “Good buyers come with a media planning background which is very essential. The question is not of who is superior or what takes precedence over other; in fact media planning and media buying together make the best deal. A strong plan has to back the buying,” he preferred to draw a conclusion.
However, as the ball got rolling, Punitha Arumugam turned up in favour of planning as the preceding factor. “Planning takes precedence over buying, but if we go two-three years back, the scenario was much different. If one has to look at things from the agency’s perspective, media buying comes up as the hygiene factor.”
In a narrative tone, Vikram Sakhuja contradicted Arumugam. “Media buying offers tangibility whereas media planning is the flow chart, plans etc. Buying is certainly more important than planning. Market prioritization uses a key point in planning. There is an increasing demand from clients and customized plans are required to state the customized media solutions. Buying is not about rates or savings, it’s more about value. Planning on the other hand, helps the communication to create the desired impact,” he made his point.
Praveen Tripathi, however, tried to portray the relationship between the two. “Planning is all about what to buy. And, buying is all about at what rate and from whom to buy. There are undifferentiated sets of things to buy and it takes precedence only when you know what you are looking for,” he said.
Though the million-dollar question on precedence remained unresolved even at the end of an exciting debate, the panelists were unambiguous in accepting the fact that planning and buying were not isolated functions and must be accepted in a complementary light.