Over the past year of aggressively pitching multinational clients for media planning and buying assignments, I realized that clients were often unsure about how an advertising agency located in North America could plan a media campaign in other countries. This got me thinking about all the elements that have changed in the media landscape, such as technology allowing us to plan efficiently and execute campaigns sitting thousands of miles away.
Years ago, I was a part of a team that planned media globally. There were many challenges when it came to planning and executing in other countries. For example, we lacked data needed to target audiences properly, often due to local regulations. We also didn’t always have visibility into local media consumption habits to the extent we did in the U.S. Today, things are a different, international media planning has changed dramatically.
Technology and Data
With the lack of targeting data and the tech to implement it, we couldn’t understand media consumption and consumer behavior at the site level. For that matter, we couldn’t even target with accuracy as much as we can today. Technologies such as SRDS, Nielsen International Consumer Data, DSPs and DMPs provide audience data that make planning and buying multinational media much easier. The data available is very in-depth with lots of insights into the audience and media landscape. For example, when it comes to search in China we know that Baidu has significantly larger volume than Google. Technologies also provide detail on the reach by different dialects, which allows agencies to properly segment messaging and translations to consumers in China. This allows us to have a deeper understanding of how to develop media strategies and plans that reach our audiences effectively within each country.
Acquiring Publisher Information
Years ago, direct buying was characterized by calling sales offices in the countries we were planning for, dealing with time differences and gaps in communication. This was primarily the result of publishers lacing U.S. representation. Today, most international publishers have an office in most major US cities – especially New York – or representation through third parties, which allows us to meet with them and learn about their media property, audience, and capabilities within our own time zone. Such U.S.-based sales offices can often also mitigate risk when it comes to the issues that come along with buying media in foreign currencies, Value Added Tax (VAT) and other issues unique to international buying.
International media planning and buying can be challenging, with variations in consumption, consumer behavior, and publisher information, and different regulatory considerations in each country. Strategic planning for a multinational media advertising campaign must inevitably take account of all these factors. With the right media research tools and media team, this can be accomplished and executed from the U.S. without a presence on the ground in the country in question. Many years ago international media buying was much more opaque, but with the advent of new technologies it has become much more clear and transparent. With the combination of technology and publishers having presence internationally, this has created a climate of change in the media world making it flatter, smarter, and better.
Syed Mohammed is Director, eDR at Underscore Marketing, a boutique firm that creates and manages digital marketing programs.