How I Learned To Stop Worrying About Channels

... And found a love for data

There's been a lot of activity lately on LinkedIn and other B2B channels around the notion that younger audiences are becoming significantly harder to plan for when it comes to marketing. Here are some of the topics to name a few:

  • Dark Social
  • Snapchat
  • Kids don't use URLs or even browsers
  • Kids aren't on Facebook anymore

There's a lot of doom and gloom around the future of media, and there are many questions of its future validity. To all of this I say, if you're worried about these issues, you're doing it wrong.

The idea of channel planning based on trends is a fairly old one. In the Mad Men days, we had a pile of options, TV, Radio, OOH, Newspaper and Events. There are a few others, but these were the biggies. The data that came back was sample sized and considered to be all you needed.

As digital channels came into the fold, we started getting real, non-sampled data. Instead of getting impression data, or viewership data based on a sample group of people, we started getting real data down to the person.

When we started with digital it was treated the same way we treated the existing traditional channels. I want to buy inventory with the Weather Network, because... That seems to be where a lot of people go... It's this notion of gut planning, or planning based on audience size that is no longer the way we need to plan.

Fast forward a little bit, and some smart companies started targeting audiences, not based on where they are, but who they are. Programmatic media buying means that you can bid on a type of person, rather than what sites they're visiting. Think about it. Imagine 50 years ago if you could choose between two options:

  1. Advertise your product to anyone who happens to be watching a TV show between 8pm and 9pm

  2. Advertise to anybody that would be interested in your product at anytime of day, based on what they've been searching for, looking at, or content they've been reading or watching

If you haven't chosen the second option yet - it might be worth knowing that it can usually be the cheaper option, or most importantly, it will drive real returns on your media investment.

So why am I not worried about channels?
Because no matter whether it's Snapchat, Facebook, LinkedIn, or something that doesn't exist yet, all of these channels have one thing in common. They either have, or will have, the ability to bid on their audiences based on the data that they have on their audiences.

The data we have access to today, and the platforms that provide us with audiences to market to, allow us to be channel agnostic to an extent. Yes, we still need to worry about the message as it relates to the medium, but we can experiment with those mediums, figure out which ones are working best for us, rather than guess, and hope that we're connecting with those that want to purchase what we're selling.

So if you're worried about how you're going to catch up with newer, younger, hard to keep up with channels. Don't. Start worrying about experimentation, data management, and funnel analysis. Because those three things are the future of media success.