PERSPECTIVE: Is there substance to strategic media or is it just hot air?

Last week Camelot became the latest in a growing army of advertisers to award a separate strategic media planning account, handing the business - temporarily at least - to Mediapolis. But what is media strategy? Over the last few years I’ve sat through endless confusing briefings about agencies’ newly discovered strategic media credentials, clothed in that important-sounding twaddle which is a dead giveaway that even they don’t know what they’re talking about.

Last week Camelot became the latest in a growing army of

advertisers to award a separate strategic media planning account,

handing the business - temporarily at least - to Mediapolis. But what is

media strategy? Over the last few years I’ve sat through endless

confusing briefings about agencies’ newly discovered strategic media

credentials, clothed in that important-sounding twaddle which is a dead

giveaway that even they don’t know what they’re talking about.



Yet everyone feels the need to play the strategic media game.



Old names are given new titles and new divisions are carved out of

moribund media agencies and suddenly we’re expected to believe these

guys are media’s equivalent of Michael Owen. I’m sorry, but I just don’t

buy it.



I can understand the logic. Clients demanded cheap media, media

specialists conspired to cut each others’ - and their own - throats to

deliver and so had to look for other ways to make money. Someone,

somewhere coined this phrase, ’strategic media’, and realised there was

brass in the muck.



By conjuring credentials in this field, agencies could claim added value

and bump up fee income.



But now that it’s an accepted part of the business and clients such as

Camelot are beginning to embrace it, media strategy must prove it’s more

than a ’me too’ new-business tool. I have no doubt that, for some

agencies at least, strategic media is simply that, while the best

agencies have probably always strived to go the extra mile for their

clients and take a more creative approach which doesn’t put media in a

box labelled ’commodity’.



If they can now call this considered approach strategic media - and

change extra for it - good luck to them.



But strategic media needs to be solutions neutral, outside the demands

of a creative agency’s love of the 60-second TV ad or the media buyer’s

agency deal. As media becomes more complex, there’s a real opportunity

for strategic media to sit at the client’s right hand, helping steer a

course through a complex web of communications solutions. Yet how many

strategic media divisions can make a truly unbiased recommendation that

may mean eschewing a big TV campaign with all the added benefits of

being able to plough that money through the books of its TV buying

department?



That doesn’t mean that strategic media can’t coexist alongside either

the media buying function or the creative conception, just that it needs

to be an independent thought process, paid for on a fee basis and wholly

transparent.



The problem is, there are still a number of agencies out there making a

business out of banking their clients’ money, something the commission

process perpetuates. Until we see the demise of commission as a method

of payment for media agencies, the definition of strategic media will

always be open to question



Topics

Become a member of Campaign from just £46 a quarter

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to campaignlive.co.uk plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now

Partner content

Share

1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).