New Media Engine aims for maximising sales impact over optimising media efficiency

ThinkTV debuts new self-serve media planning tool tapping into sales and campaign data from more than 60 brands across 10 categories and 850+ ROI observations

Assisting advertisers with campaign benchmarks that connect through to possible sales outcomes and risk profiles, rather than just optimised media efficiency, is the objective of a new planning tool launched by ThinkTV this week.

The TV research and industry body has taken the wrappers off Media Engine, a free, self-serve media planning tool for advertisers that taps into sales and campaign data from more than 60 brands across 10 categories. The aim of the game is to help the wider advertising fraternity make better decisions on optimal media splits by democratising data needed to design campaigns that deliver the best possible returns.

Target users are both client-side marketers as well as their agency partners. The aggregated, de-identified data powering the engine comes from ThinkTV’s Payback Series research and GroupM, and represents a collective advertising spend of $450 million across companies with a combined turnaround of $23 billion.

In all, 850+ ROI observations are being used behind the scenes to generate the data visualised through the tool. Users can select from eight outputs in order to find recommendations based on their needs: Category; market approach, such as mass-market versus niche; percentage of sales that come from online; brand size; annual media spend; risk profile; competitive of the category; and consumer switching behaviour in a specified category.

“While every campaign is different, all start with briefs. We think that’s the foundation element for good campaign and therefore good results. And great briefs start with great information,” ThinkTV CEO, Kim Portrate, said.

But while acknowledging econometric modelling as the most powerful way of demonstrating how media investment can generate business results, often mid-sized brands and companies, or even small brands within a bigger company, may not be able to unlock that kind of data.

“We reckon everyone should have this information at their fingertips to help grow their business. So we built the Media Engine to level the playing field,” she said.

The Media Engine was devised after research conducted by ThinkTV’s BetterBriefs Project found 90 per cent of marketers fail to brief agencies effectively, leading to a third of budgets being wasted. This is the equivalent of $200 billion in global ad spend.

Recommendations made via the self-serve tool are on a category level, not brand level. Results showcased cover nine media channels – TV, social, search, digital video, digital display, print, out-of-home, cinema and radio.

Portrate also stressed it doesn’t come with a sales or trading guarantee.

“Although what make this different is it’s based on sales outcomes,” she continued. “While we understand every brand is different, we have never a model like this that takes real sales dollars and reapplies it back against media investment in a way that’s searchable, free and available to everybody.”

Speaking to CMO upon the Media Engine’s launch, ThinkTV director of research, insights and education, Steve Weaver, said the risk toggling tool uses econometric modelling and actual sales data to link consistency of a channel to an end commercial result.

“It’s something every media agency would know about, but from a data perspective, you’re relying on what you read to know,” he said. “This model builds risk into the equation and it’s optimising media, but on the sales it generates, not on media efficiency, which is what a lot of optimisations tend to do.  

Risk is important from a client perspective, particularly if you’re investing, Portrate said. “If you can provide some data or guidance that says this is my choice and this choice consistency delivers in our category, that’s quite useful at a board level, especially if it’s end of quarter and you’ve not hit your sales numbers,” she said.

“But also if you’re looking, as many brands do now as part of the budgeting process, at upweighting media or upweighted budgets. If you can provide some risk mitigation there, that’s useful.”

In addition, understanding the role of each channel in respect to short and long-term returns is something ThinkTV has endeavoured to factor into the tool. As has been noted in former ThinkTV research, each media channel has a diminishing return curve when it comes to timeframe and frequency against maximum ROI.

Weaver noted this is all too often overlooked in planning campaigns and media mix. The new tool shows spend, media returns on sales and base growth annually and over a three-year timeframe.

“For example, if you invest a lot of money in TV but then try to measure four weeks later and demonstrate to the board it's worked or not worked, you could be missing the best part of what the channel can do,” Weaver said. “Timeframe is therefore important.”  

The self-serve Media Engine is now live on the ThinkTV website.

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