Real-time planning is vital to change consumer behaviour

Welcome to the world of Real Time Planning.

Traditionally planning has been based on research and insight that is necessarily at a time lag.  Planners await updates on TGI trends to feed into the annual planning cycle.  Creative work can take ages to change approach, with approval process that can take months.

There have always been advertisers who have taken more of a short term approach and obviously direct response advertisers who run their campaigns based on a daily or weekly roi.    And then there are retail advertisers who have to fill stores by the weekend or entertainment marketers who need bums on seats for one week only.  But for most of the rest of the marketing industry their campaigns have had only the odd bit of tactical execution – advertising brought to life by reference to the news of the day.  But we are now in an era where a change in the availability of instant consumer insight and new flexibility in media and creative execution has created a paradigm shift in how plans are created and laid down for all advertisers.  The tactical is now a core part of strategy, and there is a need to change ways of working and to rebalance resources as a result.

For instance one of our clients has moved from time consuming advertising research to testing advertising concepts amongst an online panel of their brand fans and possible switchers.  Not only do they get very direct and instant criticism of their ideas, they also get the panel’s creative input.  Now this may not get approval in all of the creative departments in town, but it’s a big improvement on waiting months for a research debrief as far as the marketing director is concerned.

Planners meanwhile can find out what the brand’s target market is into right now via Search analytics, Twitter, blogs or Facebook.  So in addition to insight gathering around the annual brief (and I am not suggesting for one minute that annual insight surveys are redundant) they can constantly monitor consumer opinion and behaviour.  Instead of only allocating a small proportion of the budget for tactical activity, all media spend can be deployed where and when the time is right – according to up to the minute economic and consumer insights.

Five years ago communication planners were still struggling to get creative executions developed that truly worked across all media.   Now we can and should look for creative executions that truly adapt to the latest zeitgeist – a revolution for fashion linked or youth targeted brands in particular.  And if one execution doesn’t draw the required response, it can be altered in real time too.

Where roi might be calculated once or twice a year there is now rolling measurement of sales, brand metrics and interaction that means activity can be honed hour by hour if desired.

To change consumer behaviour now Real Time planning is an essential part of any strategic approach.

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