Far too often media planning is still worshiped at the altar of cost efficiency. For a long time CPMs drove the plans. Then along came the magic world of digital metrics and we shifted our allegiances to cost-per-click and cost-per-conversion. And now we see the legitimacy of cost-per-click questioned by studies showing that click fraud could be causing significant overages versus actual customer engagement. While it’s easy for media people to fall back on numbers, we can’t ignore what really matters to people.
The mantra for success in the automotive business is, “It’s all about the product.” If the design and engineering isn’t right, no amount of advertising and PR spin is going to make it into a winner. The mantra for media planning should be, “It’s all about the content.” If the content isn’t there to keep people engaged and coming back, no low cost metric is going to make it into a winner.
Media planners should be thinking content first, cost second. Content is what gets people to show up to begin with, and it’s what keeps them coming back. It’s what they’re buying, not always with money, but always with the value of their time. If a media property of any kind—print, telecast, digital, whatever—doesn’t give people an adequate return value for their money or time, a low CPM or CPC isn’t going to help maintain that audience very long. There will be some short-term life as new people discover it, but without a stable returning audience eventually the top of the funnel flow gets too small to sustain anything.
By all means, don’t forsake the analytics. Just don’t be a slave to them and put them in the proper priority. Remember that since we’re all looking for engagement with our customers and prospects, the most important thing to be concerned with is what they’re engaging with—the content. Metrics are the result of the engagement, not the engagement itself.