Hey, Media Planners: Stop Using Excel!
07 December 2017 • tvsquared
Aktar Somalya,
Director of Product Management

Last month, The Wall Street Journal reported that major corporations are telling their finance teams to stop using Excel. The spreadsheet, a staple in business for decades, hasn’t kept up with the times. It has data limitations, it’s hard to sync with other systems, it doesn’t automatically update data and, with most versions, collaboration is a struggle. Too much time is spent on the “set up” to analysis, and not enough time is devoted to what the data is actually saying. Instead, finance teams are being directed toward cloud-based alternatives.

What the advertising industry needs to do is apply this same type of thinking to TV media planning – an area heavily reliant on old-school, Excel-based processes. Advertisers are demanding more dynamic, digital-like plans for TV. But the adherence to Excel is holding back this evolution. Here’s why:

  • Collaboration with Excel is not easy. Knowledge is concentrated among a few people vs. being shared across an organization.
  • Excel is difficult to connect to first- and third-party data sources and needs to be updated manually. Media planners spend their time importing and exporting data instead of determining how best to optimize plans for the best ROI.
  • Post-airing analysis and performance information are typically held in other systems (or even by other teams), so the loop between planning, execution, analysis and learning is not closed. Needless to say, this leads to inefficiencies and mistakes.

Today’s media planners need a single source of truth, based on the latest information, about plans and their expected performance. The availability of first- and third-party data has enabled planners to leverage SaaS-based machine-learning technologies to create just that.

By automatically cross-referencing historic response performance with audience demographics and segmentation data – and pulling this data together in one place – planners can:

  • Build multiple versions of a plan in minutes vs. weeks
  • Score those plans against each other to show how they’ll perform in the real world
  • Inform plans based on not only ratings, but also historical response performance
  • Keep track of plan performance in real time, making in-flight recommendations on where to reallocate spend for stronger response
  • Share the knowledge across an organization, making collaboration easy (thanks, Saas!)

TV can now be measured and optimized just like digital, and media planners must keep up. To do that, dynamic, “living” media plans need to be the norm, and that simply can’t happen if planners continue to rely on Excel.