It’s the end of Media Planning as we know it … and you can blame Aki Anastasiou

I’ve been thinking really hard about whether to update my book Media Planning – Art or Science? But if I do update it, what should I call it?
The problem centres on an internal dialogue about whether the term Media Planning still has any meaning. In fact, I wonder whether media planning has an effective role to play in advertising and communication anymore and whether we aren’t training people for a job that will most certainly not exist beyond the Groot Digital Migration. Mind you, at the pace at which Minister Muthambi is moving, I’ll probably have ceased to exist myself. I mean the last Groot Migration took place in ox-waggons but even they were moving at a faster pace than our Faith, despite the fact that they stopped for a braai every night.
Now the demise of media planning would create a significant problem for me because my Twitter handle @Mzansimedia describes me as “Africa’s oldest surviving media planner” not Africa’s oldest surviving unemployed media planner. And we all know how important Twitter is because if you can Tweet it you can write it! I mean at this stage I have posted 3480 Tweets. That’s 487,200 characters. At an average 10 characters per word, that is 48,720 words. OK, make that 20 characters because of grammatical interference and the fact that these days we have to accommodate big words like programmatic and optimization, which makes 24,360 words. That’s two chapters right there.
But I digress. The point is that if Media Planning doesn’t exist, what should l call my book?
Stumped for meaningful solutions I took myself off to listen to the self-styled Geek God Aki Anastasiou address AMASA on the recent global CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas. Really fascinating! But as I went from one OMG insight to another, from holograms to self-driving cars, it occurred to me that to leave that forum and commence writing a book which had a separate chapter on Cinema and another on Television, separate chapters on Newspapers and Magazines, and even separate chapters on Radio and Mobile, would be the unthinking act of a supreme Luddite.
The problem with Media Planning is it implies the place to commence the process, the solution to the communication challenge, is the medium itself. Get the right balance of reach and frequency, add all the media numbers together and you get a result. It’s essentially a throwback to that old chestnut from Marshall McLuhan … The Medium is the Message. If the medium is the indeed the message then the answer must be to just get more media exposure. Preferably for less money of course.
In a world where media distribution is ubiquitous however, we are increasingly coming to understand that …
The Message is the Message and that The Message is Content.
Increasingly the role of the former media planner is to map out the optimal distribution of content across media platforms, whether intuitively or through programmatic planning, not just to maximise the total number of people exposed to the campaign but in order to maximise the relevance and impact of content delivery at each and every point of contact with the consumer.
When we look at it from this perspective, we realise that classifying newspapers and magazines, or cinema and television, as separate media channels is an obsolete way of planning. We need to look at this from the consumer’s perspective. Some consumers read (call them reader imperatives). Some consumers listen (listening imperatives). And some consumers are watching imperatives. But the vast majority of consumers do everything. They read. They watch. They listen. They interact.
As planners we need to analyse the consumers content preferences and the media behaviour they exhibit in order to access their priority content. This allows us to break down the media silos that keep our strategic thinking mired in the past and to overcome the challenges of fusing digital and traditional media in any campaign.

media planning to content mappingIf I am listening, does it make any difference whether I “listen” on a radio or on my mobile phone? If I am a “reader”, with a specific content interest in the news, does it make a difference whether I read the news in a printed newspaper or a digital edition on my computer? It is not the fact that the source of my news is newsprint or the App on my mobile phone that is significant, it is the content itself. And the commercial content placement opportunity that this knowledge creates. Of course new technology allows me to go beyond consuming content and to actually create content. I don’t just read, watch and listen to the news. I have the power to create news. With UGC I am the news.
The mobile phone is merely a delivery mechanism which facilitates my reading … or my listening … or my watching. It isn’t a separate medium. That’s why there should no more be a chapter in my new book on digital than there should be a chapter on electricity.
When I rewrite my book there won’t be a chapter on radio. There’ll be a chapter on Listening. No chapter on newspapers. But a chapter on Reading and within that chapter, sections on newspapers, magazines, the internet and mobile. No television chapter but the book will unpack all forms of Watching from television, through cinema and taxi TV, to digital OOH and smartphones.
That’s why I’m going to be calling my book Content Mapping – Art or Science?
And I’ll be changing my Twitter handle to @Mzansimedia – Africa’s newest Content Cartographer.