Ben Kunz is Executive Vice President of Media Associates, an independent media planning, buying and analytics agency working with clients with $2 to $30 million advertising budgets. Although the company “does media,” its primary focus is on tactic and channel selection and on predicting, controlling, and maximizing advertising investment results.
Ben explains the structure of advertising as having three prongs: the creative/branding/message piece; the increasingly-fragmented media channel piece (social media, Twitter, mobile devices, over-the-top (cable free) television, satellite radio); and data. Ben feels data is critical to targeting, understanding, and optimizing advertising return.
Ben’s company uses predictive analytics, modeling outcomes before starting an advertising campaign. He says, if you can measure what happened, you can turn it around and forecast what will happen – use data to get ahead and put some headlights on your business so you can see where you are going. He gives this as an example: If you are going to spend $10 million on an ad campaign, is it going to drive $30 million back in sales? If you don’t know, run some predictive models . . . this is the only way to control outcome.
Ben says that barring the time and expense of gathering a lot target audience information, the best way to change or influence consumer behavior is to advertise on 3 very different channels over a period of time. He cites Rex Briggs, author of the book What Sticks, who analyzed billions of dollars of marketing spend and concluded that, if a brand presented advertisements on television, billboards, and digital ads, customers responded much more than if they just saw a bunch of Facebook ads. Digital may be “hot,” but it is not everything. Channels should be selected based on the target audience.
Attending South by Southwest for the 10th year, Ben commented on how fast technology had changed. But, he added, human psychology has not changed. Too often, advertisers or marketers get caught up in the “bright and shiny,” when they need to balance their efforts across all channels.
Ben recommends using the 70/20/10 rule, where 70% of the marketing effort focuses on what you expect will work because it has worked in the past, 20% uses innovative, emerging ideas that you have confidence will work, and the last 10% is “the crazy new stuff.” That “new stuff,” could prove to be the source of the big ideas for your clients. He describes TV as “the James Bond of media right now” – a very powerful, but blunt instrument. He notes that 37 million Americans (a number which is rapidly increasing) have cut the (cable) cord and are using other means to access programming. Ultimately, this will make market segmentation much more granular and facilitate market targeting.
In this interview, Ben also discusses the importance of culture, team-building, empowerment, and motivation. Employees need to know “the next rung on the ladder” and how to get there. They need to feel empowered if they are to be motivated. Invest in ongoing learning opportunities. You have to nurture your employees if you want them to continue to be engaged.
Ben has found it helpful to have non-competing partners who can provide the skills his company does not provide. He also touched on the risks of the Internet of Things, a topic presented by past chess champion, Garry Kasparov, at the South by Southwest conference.
Ben can be reached on Twitter @BenKunz or on his company’s website at http://mediassociates.com. (One ‘A’ in the middle)
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