Elephants in the media room: A manifesto for good media

media planning

What can we do to save media planning, buying and our relevant business purpose for existence? After all the genuinely angry noise, I’ve concluded that MediaLand must change.

Finally, we’ve all got the memo. Nobody can seriously argue that the current model remains fit for purpose. 360 degree client media buying deals have been exposed for the reality that ‘deliver your margins by managing the media money through treasury’ equates to something very close to, if not actual, fraudulent practices. There is no magic accountant Mr or Mrs Procurement.

I’m not alone in thinking this. There’s no coincidence that the leadership of many big media agencies is in a state of turmoil at the moment. Top people and good people are getting out because they know that change has to happen.

The digital world has always been a cycle of hype and doom and at the moment it is the programmatic sector that is in a dark place. This isn’t new as digital media has always been an easy target. Promising transparency but delivering revenue burn and multiple levels of ‘ticket clipping’ to pay for the tech. But let’s be clear, there’s absolutely no reason to feel morally superior if you are responsible for planning and buying TV, radio, press or outdoor media. There are many dark arts in those IO’s too and I may well discuss those in another column. And Publishers, you might want to reflect a little on some of the practices used to meet target.

Are we really doing our clients, ourselves and our consumers justice?

So, here’s a suggestion. Let’s collectively draft a manifesto for a radical reframing of the advertising media business. A movement for Good Media, if you will. A movement where consumers are at the heart of the trade and we in MediaLand are fair with them, our clients and our selves. We still make money - but maybe not quite so much, and we make it honestly. Is that too much to ask?

Let me start the movement by making this plea to the industry.

Please stop rewarding the wrong behaviours. Stop paying leaders huge bonus’ that ultimately create unsustainable, unethical business practices in (currently) unregulated MediaLand. I see a great future for our industry but only if we reconfigure our business model, we embrace the disruption and we revolutionise the methodology.

We have to value the full gamut of media channels, content and engagement strategies. Not because we’ve got a trading arrangement, but because it’s right for the brand, the consumer and for us.

Here are the first four suggestions that might start the conversation around a new Good Media manifesto:

Use tech to genuinely provide transparency across all media. It’s available and it works.

Stop stealing consumers attention by serving rubbish ads that are poorly targeted and piss them off so much they turn on ad blockers.

Ensure media planning and buying contracts have fair payment terms that add genuine quantifiable value.

Embrace regulation of media buying ‘best practice’ which includes punitive fines for agencies that break the rules.

This is just a start of the debate and by no means comprehensive. I’d love to hear your personal views and not the PR line spun by your agency. In times of change the brave must lead the way and now is the time to be courageous. Good media by good people will produce great results.

Mary Keane-Dawson is the global chief executive for performance media at The Marketing Group

Mary Keane-Dawson

Mary Keane-Dawson’s career started at the Observer, in the dying days of the hot metal press and the dawn of desktop publishing.

She’s since played a part in creating an impressive mix of companies, including Redwood Publishing, SPAFAX (now part of WPP), Steak (now part of Dentsu), Reform Collective London and Trade Doubler’s incubator The Zoo Project.

She previously served as chief executive of My Health Pal, a health technology firm born out of adtech and intended to help those who suffer from chronic health problems gain control of their condition.

At present she is a digital business consultant, non-executive director and executive coach working with the likes of Bima, The Smalls and Tech London Advocates.

All by Mary