There's no point yearning for the past because our future is brighter than ever
A view from Sue Unerman

There's no point yearning for the past because our future is brighter than ever

Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be. Can we all stop with the tales about what media used to be about, please?

Some say: the art of the media agency used to be to find the perfect spot for a TV ad. I say: this is targeting the right audience at the right time, in the right place, and media agencies are doing more – not less – of it thanks to better data.

Some call for a restating of a media agency’s purpose. I say: it is to communicate with the client’s target audience to sell more stuff or to change their behaviour. Just as it always was, but with more ways of communicating and better, faster judgments of what’s working and what isn’t, so we can course-correct during a campaign instead of waiting weeks, or even months, for a post-campaign analysis when it’s too late.

At MediaCom, we have just refreshed our planning process to ensure that we build the best possible connected plans for our clients. Instead of planning in media silos, the crucial thing now is to plan the whole connected system of paid, owned and earned media, exploiting the second screen and the immediacy that mobile allows.

We know we changed people's lives with the Home Office campaign - they told us and thanked us immediately

If in days of old the role of a media person was to find exactly the right spot for a one-way communication from the advertiser, a bit like a message from the heavens, now their role is to deliver a connected communication system fuelled by content (including, but not exclusively, advertising) and measured by outcomes (final and intermediary measures of the client’s KPIs), not just inputs (coverage and frequency targets).

As an example, for last year’s Home Office campaign to stop violence against women and girls, we didn’t just buy spots for advertising to reach as many teenagers as we could. Instead, we produced a connected plan that included associating with a storyline in Hollyoaks and using its talent in specially commissioned ads that ran in the breaks surrounding the show, with social media and extra editorial coverage allowing commentary and dialogue with the teen audience. We know we changed people’s lives with this campaign – they told us and thanked us immediately and online.

This is a big change for agencies, and some won’t find it easy. But there’s no reason at all for nostalgia, in my opinion. What we’re doing now is better and will get even better. We ain’t seen nothing yet.

Sue Unerman is the chief strategy officer at MediaCom