Media Bundling

November 28, 2008

The Question

A fellow ANA member inquired about the media planning functions of other ANA member's companies. The member asked the following questions of other ANA members:

  1. Do you bundle your media planning with another agency function? (Yes/No)
    1.1.    If yes, is it:
     a) bundled with your creative AOR? (Y/N)
     b) bundled with your media-buying AOR? (Y/N)
  2. If current structure is a recent change, why did you make this change, and what were your considerations for changing?
  3. If current structure was recently assessed but NOT changed, what were your considerations for maintaining as is?
  4. What do you consider to be the pros/cons of placing planning in-house with media-buying agency, vs. at creative agency (or vice versa)?

Overview

The benchmark questions were posed to members of the ANA's West Coast Media, TV and Print Committees. 26 members responded. Of those responses:

  • 81% of the respondents (21 members) indicated that they bundle their media planning with another agency function.
  • 77% of the respondents (20 members) indicated that they bundle their media planning with their media buying AOR.
    • Two of these members indicated that they "do and don't" bundle media planning with their media buying AOR (see Member Response #1 and Member Response #9 for further information).
  • 35% of the respondents (9 members) indicated that they bundle their media planning with their creative AOR.

Member opinion varied widely about the benefits of bundling planning with buying, with one member saying, for example, that most agencies "excel at one or the other but not both" and another member saying "Planning and buying are so closely linked" that it would be difficult to manage separately.

Complete (anonymous) responses from members are as follows. Note that if a member left an answer blank, the question has been removed from their response.


Member Response #1

  1. Do you bundle your media planning with another agency function? (Yes/No)  Yes
    1.1.    If yes, is it:
     a) bundled with your creative AOR? (Y/N)  Yes 
     b) bundled with your media-buying AOR? (Y/N)  Yes and No (see below)  
  2. No Response
  3. If current structure was recently assessed but NOT changed, what were your considerations for maintaining as is?  
    We just went through an agency search.  Our previous agency was bundled media and creative and had worked well for us.  The main reason we wanted to keep this system as is was due to the increasing need to have media and creative work in tandem to bring to life big ideas.  We are able to tap into both media and creative to drive marketing communication ideas.  Of course you want to be sure that your media and creative teams are aligned within the agency and work well together.

    We did however look for some help in outsourcing media buying.  This was to drive efficiencies.  It is still based out of one agency but we tap into the power of a bigger buying firm for Upfront buying through the agency's parent company.  This worked extremely well for the Upfront this year.
  4. What do you consider to be the pros/cons of placing planning in-house with media-buying agency, vs. at creative agency (or vice versa)?  
    I don't think that media planning and buying need to be at one agency but I do think there are many pros to having your media planning and creative housed at the same agency and coordinated and driven by the same account team.  It helps with creation of ideas, execution and consistency.
     

Member Response #2

  1. Do you bundle your media planning with another agency function? (Yes/No) Yes.
    1.1.    If yes, is it:
    a) bundled with your creative AOR? (Y/N) No.      
    b) bundled with your media-buying AOR? (Y/N) Yes.
  2. If current structure is a recent change, why did you make this change, and what were your considerations for changing? Not recent.
  3. If current structure was recently assessed but NOT changed, what were your considerations for maintaining as is? Not recently assessed.
  4. What do you consider to be the pros/cons of placing planning in-house with media-buying agency, vs. at creative agency (or vice versa)?  
    At present, top media planning agencies are "separated" from the creative agencies- unbundled. Our agency partners work very well together.

Member Response #3

  1. Do you bundle your media planning with another agency function? (Yes/No)  Yes. Interactive is bundled with planning. 
    1.1.    If yes, is it:
     a) bundled with your creative AOR? (Y/N)  No 
     b) bundled with your media-buying AOR? (Y/N)  Yes 
  2. If current structure is a recent change, why did you make this change, and what were your considerations for changing?  To avoid digital being planned in silos and build cross channel capabilities in agency staff. 
  3. No response
  4. What do you consider to be the pros/cons of placing planning in-house with media-buying agency, vs. at creative agency (or vice versa)?
    Agency information is more holistic than just one piece of business.  Information and cross learning is paramount in the current media landscape. 

Member Response #4

  1. Do you bundle your media planning with another agency function? (Yes/No)  Yes
    1.1.    If yes, is it:
     a) bundled with your creative AOR? (Y/N) No
     b) bundled with your media-buying AOR? (Y/N) Yes
  2. If current structure is a recent change, why did you make this change, and what were your considerations for changing? Not recent
  3. No response
  4. What do you consider to be the pros/cons of placing planning in-house with media-buying agency, vs. at creative agency (or vice versa)?  Expertise.  If the agency is full service with the media planning/buying and creative skills, it's a good idea.  Bundling does provide efficiencies in costs and intellectual capital but you must have the right partners.

Member Response #5

Media planning was "unbundled" during a comprehensive agency review in 2006. My experience is that working with a stand alone media agency has brought more depth, cohesiveness and specialization across all strategy disciplines (strategy, negotiation, digital/new media, branded entertainment, measurement etc.). Conversely, integration with partner agencies, particularly in the creative area, has proven to be an even greater challenge than it was within a "full service" agency!  


Member Response #6

[We have] a global media AOR that handles all aspects of media planning and buying.  We have consolidated over the last 2 years.  Since there no longer are full service agencies and most major media agencies operate as separate units, although they are affiliated with large parent companies who may own a creative agency, we do not see any need/advantage in bundling the media and creative.  We looked to get the best media agency to deliver effective and efficient plans without regard to who our creative agency is.


Member Response #7

  1. We use a media buying service for planning and buying for our general market advertising. For our Hispanic agency, planning is combined with buying and creative.
  2. We changed to a buying service for planning and buying in 2003 in order to leverage the media expertise of a specialist agency.
  3. Advantage of separating is that you leverage each agency's expertise. A key to making this work is that agencies need to partner effectively.

Member Response #8

  1. Do you bundle your media planning with another agency function? (Yes/No)  Yes.
    1.1.    If yes, is it:
     a) bundled with your creative AOR? (Y/N)  Yes.
     b) bundled with your media-buying AOR? (Y/N)  Yes.
  2. If current structure is a recent change, why did you make this change, and what were your considerations for changing?  No change. It has been like that for 10 years. 
  3. If current structure was recently assessed but NOT changed, what were your considerations for maintaining as is?
    Need to have the right coordination going on to make the planning efficient with the creative and buying. If done at one agency, build on efficiencies.
  4. What do you consider to be the pros/cons of placing planning in-house with media-buying agency,
    vs. at creative agency (or vice versa)?
    Experienced having out-of-the-box creative ideas, but wasn't able to execute in finding those media options. This was a great example of how having the two work side by side really can help to come up with some interesting ideas without wasting resources.

Member Response #9

  1. Do you bundle your media planning with another agency function? Yes.
    1.1.    If yes, is it:
     a) bundled with your creative AOR? Yes.
     b) bundled with your media-buying AOR?Yes, but we also do some of the regional media buying on our own.
  2. If current structure is a recent change, why did you make this change, and what were your considerations for changing?
    We recently contracted with an online agency.  Our current agency offered this service, but we didn't feel that they were as competent as a single function agency at meeting our needs.

Member Response #10

  1. Do you bundle your media planning with another agency function? (Yes/No)   Yes.
    1.1.    If yes, is it:
     a) bundled with your creative AOR? (Y/N)    Yes
     b) bundled with your media-buying AOR? (Y/N)  Yes 
  2. If current structure is a recent change, why did you make this change, and what were your considerations for changing?  Existing structure, but may be looking to unbundle some of these next year.  I would be interested in results of this survey 
  3. If current structure was recently assessed but NOT changed, what were your considerations for maintaining as is?  Starting to discuss now. 

Member Response #11

  1. Do you bundle your media planning with another agency function? (Yes/No)  Yes.
    1.1.    If yes, is it:
     a) bundled with your creative AOR? (Y/N)
     b) bundled with your media-buying AOR? (Y/N)
    No, we have a media AOR/ who handles all of our buying and placement.
  2. No response.
  3. If current structure was recently assessed but NOT changed, what were your considerations for maintaining as is?
    We have a long-standing relationship with both partners who also work closely together.
  4. What do you consider to be the pros/cons of placing planning in-house with media-buying agency, vs. at creative agency (or vice versa)?
    A larger agency is able to leverage efficiencies to provide greater opportunities.

Member Response #12

  1. Do you bundle your media planning with another agency function? (Yes/No)  No, it is a stand alone relationship 
  2. If current structure is a recent change, why did you make this change, and what were your considerations for changing?  Changed in 2005; could not find planning talent and buying talent under one roof. Planning talent/ creativity is in short supply these days 
  3. No response.
  4. What do you consider to be the pros/cons of placing planning in-house with media-buying agency, vs. at creative agency (or vice versa)?  If you unbundle, you may get better ideas by hiring the right people for the right job, and also by picking there very best organizations for each. You have to have a media specialist in-house to direct all the agencies because otherwise the competitiveness between the shops will overwhelm the work, unfortunately. Planning and buying are very different mindsets, and most agencies are dominated/ excel at one or the other but not both.  

Member Response #13

  1. Do you bundle your media planning with another agency function? (Yes/No)
    Yes, Mediaedge handles both media planning and buying.  We utilize Active International to do some buying for us with barter credits.
    1.1.    If yes, is it:
     a) bundled with your creative AOR? (Y/N)
     b) bundled with your media-buying AOR? (Y/N)Yes, media planning and buying are bundled together.
  2. No response.
  3. No response.
  4. What do you consider to be the pros/cons of placing planning in-house with media-buying agency, vs. at creative agency (or vice versa)? Planning and buying are so closely linked, I think it would be difficult to manage separately.  Plus, the planning discipline should be closely linked to the buying function to ensure buys being delivered are achieving plan parameters.  I also find that having them housed together makes planning easier as the buyers are easily accessible for planning costs, etc.

Member Response #14

  1. Do you bundle your media planning with another agency function? (Yes/No) Yes.
    1.1.    If yes, is it:
     a) bundled with your creative AOR? (Y/N)
     b) bundled with your media-buying AOR? (Y/N)  We keep planning and buying together 
  2. No response.
  3. If current structure was recently assessed but NOT changed, what were your considerations for maintaining as is?  
    We plan to maintain the current structure - media separate from creative. We believe that we can get the best of ideas and execution by keeping creative and media unbundled. It's not important where the ideas come from.  And given the size of many agencies, the cohesion between creative and media function within one shop doesn't necessarily exist.   
  4. What do you consider to be the pros/cons of placing planning in-house with media-buying agency, vs. at creative agency (or vice versa)?  By keeping the media planning and buying together, we can see media ideas fulfilled to their potential - the buyers and planners are very connected.  We work closely with our creative agency partners to ensure that the media ideas are in sync with the overall advertising strategy.

Member Response #15

  1. Do you bundle your media planning with another agency function? (Yes/No)  Yes.
    1.1.    If yes, is it:
     a) bundled with your creative AOR? (Y/N)  No.
     b) bundled with your media-buying AOR? (Y/N)  Yes.
  2. If current structure is a recent change, why did you make this change, and what were your considerations for changing?  Structure has been in place for 7 years. 
  3. No response.
  4. What do you consider to be the pros/cons of placing planning in-house with media-buying agency, vs. at creative agency (or vice versa)?  These two functions are fundamentally different.  Media is not a "department" in a creative agency.  It is a highly specialized discipline all by itself.  Good media planning is neutral by nature, insight and fact-based.  Media should lead creative--not the other way around.  That only leads to TV and more TV....  And creative agencies charge more!!!

Member Response #16

  1. Do you bundle your media planning with another agency function? (Yes/No)  We bundle planning and buying together in most instances. 
    1.1.    If yes, is it:
     a) bundled with your creative AOR? (Y/N)  
    Kinda sorta, due to our long relationship with the creative agency and the spin-off media entity. 
     b) bundled with your media-buying AOR? (Y/N) 
    Yes, in almost all cases. 
  2. If current structure is a recent change, why did you make this change, and what were your considerations for changing?  
    This is not a change, but in the near future I want to at least fully separate media from the creative agency.  On the media end of things, I tend to be old school and see media planning and buying as almost an inseparable function.  At least from my standpoint planners and buyers of the same agency work much better together than those at two separate agencies.  Natural rivalries take place and one agency is always ready to throw the other on the fire if something goes wrong. 
  3. If current structure was recently assessed but NOT changed, what were your considerations for maintaining as is?  
    See above. 
  4. What do you consider to be the pros/cons of placing planning in-house with media-buying agency, vs. at creative agency (or vice versa)? 
    Again, being old school, when you have a full-service agency (media and creative), you get one direction and one recommendation.  When creative and media are separate, you might get two very different viewpoints.  Creative agency always wants to recommend TV.  Media agency sees online as the answer.  The pros of putting planning and buying together are that they are working as one team.  The best and most integrated efforts are those when planning and buying are truly working together.  In the big scheme of things, I would rather have planning and buying together, than just planning and creative development.  The buys bring the plan to life and planners should and need to be part of the buying process.  (This of course is coming from a 15+ year former agency media planning professional.)

Member Response #17

  1. Do you bundle your media planning with another agency function? (Yes/No) Yes.
    1.1.    If yes, is it:
    a) bundled with your creative AOR? (Y/N) No
    b) bundled with your media-buying AOR? (Y/N) Yes
  2. If current structure is a recent change, why did you make this change, and what were your considerations for changing? Creative agencies did not have adequate media planning/buying services for company requirements/needs.
  3. No response.
  4. What do you consider to be the pros/cons of placing planning in-house with media-buying agency, vs. at creative agency (or vice versa)?
    Pro - better media expertise at media agency vs. creative boutique.
    Con - communication with creative agency needs clear process for collaboration to be successful.

Member Response #18

  1. Do you bundle your media planning with another agency function? (Yes/No)  No.
  2. If current structure is a recent change, why did you make this change, and what were your considerations for changing?
    Greater Media Insights, Innovation, Accountability and Transparency.
  3. No response.
  4. What do you consider to be the pros/cons of placing planning in-house with media-buying agency, vs. at creative agency (or vice versa)?
    A bundled media arrangement where the media and creative agency members are part of the same organization can potentially be quite effective.  However, the challenge is often that media gets pushed to the back of the strategic insights and strategic planning process, which in today's marketplace can be quite problematic. 

    Unbundling media can really help drive insight you may not have with a bundling agency relationship.  In this scenario, marketers are really able to isolate performance and clearly understand their business options without agency P & Ls and politics getting in the way

Member Response #19

  1. Yes, we do bundle our media planning with media buying.  We also have our creative within the same agency.  To answer
    1.1: Yes to both.

We made this change almost 3 years ago.  We did it to achieve holistic communications plans.  Our goal was to get the media and creative concepted and adjusted early in the process.  The media impacted the creative and the creative impacted the media.  It is very difficult to do this with two agencies.

Pros/cons

Pros

Impactful smart efficient campaigns - this is a big pro and the whole point to the structure.

Cons

It is rare that one agency has strong creative, strong media planning, and strong media buying capabilities.  However, we believe that we have all three.  We have measurements to show that they are achieving results in all areas vs. our old structure of separate creative and media duties.

On a working level - my perspective - the process is not easy.  There are multiple rounds, multiple ideas that are scrapped, and a lot of thought goes into the plans, but it is worth it.  In an environment of shrinking budgets, media fragmentation, and competitors with larger budgets, we believe that having creative and media planning under one roof allows us to reach our audience with an effective message with the most efficiency.


Member Response #20

  1. Do you bundle your media planning with another agency function? (Yes/No)  
    No.  We keep it separate from our creative AOR because then it ensures that one function doesn't influence the other.  The downside is that we then have to be the glue that keeps everyone informed and in sync with one another, and there are fewer synergies with creative ideas.  We have never considered separating planning and buying. 

Member Response #21

  1. Do you bundle your media planning with another agency function? (Yes/No)  Sometimes, in some cases it's a stand-alone assignment. 
    1.1.    If yes, is it:
     a) bundled with your creative AOR? (Y/N)  Yes 
     b) bundled with your media-buying AOR? (Y/N)  No 
  2. If current structure is a recent change, why did you make this change, and what were your considerations for changing?  The stand-alone planning assignment was relatively recent.  The decision was made because the creative agencies' planning agency was sub-optimal. 
  3. No response.
  4. What do you consider to be the pros/cons of placing planning in-house with media-buying agency, vs. at creative agency (or vice versa)? In-house isn't an option due to the amount of syndicated research that would need to be subscribed to, Simmons, MRI, Nielsen, etc.   

Member Response #22

[Our company] currently bundles its media buying and planning together at one agency.  We have found this to be the most efficient model since we buy our media corporately as do most large advertisers.  We don't bundle media with creative since each brand chooses their own creative agency to work with and may include more than one.  So we have several outlets for creative but consolidate media for marketplace clout.  We have had this structure since 2001 so it is not recent.

While we continue to re-evaluate our options as to the most effective model, we have not considered any changes for the foreseeable future.

I think that the foremost "pro" to separating media from creative is objectivity and efficiency.   There is a bias on both sides and when separated tend to even out.  No fox watching the hen house so to speak.  This is important from the client stand point, to be assured that our dollars are being spent wisely since media spend is a large portion of our budget.  Both budget and inflation management as well as innovation and creativity are essential to our businesses.

Another Pro:

If a company fosters collaboration and partnership among client/media/creative then each entity can focus on their core competencies and subsequently do better work.   

Cons

Media planning and buying don't always play nice together.  An equal partnership relationship must be demanded by the client and supported by top management at the agency.  When this works everyone wins.  When it doesn't the brands suffer.                    

I don't believe that this relationship could ever be supported at a creative agency where the creative function rules.

I think it only fair to mention that I have been firmly entrenched on the buying side of the business for my entire career. 


Member Response #23

Our AOR does our planning. Spot TV is purchased by the AOR and network, print and online are purchased [internally]. Planning within the AOR encourages the interaction of creative and media strategies/personnel uncovering unique and new media opportunities and creative synergies.


Member Response #24

We bundle our Media Planning with our Media Buying firm.


Member Response #25

  1. Do you bundle your media planning with another agency function? (Yes/No) Yes
    1.1.    If yes, is it:
     a) bundled with your creative AOR? (Y/N) No
     b) bundled with your media-buying AOR? (Y/N) Yes
  2. If current structure is a recent change, why did you make this change, and what were your considerations for changing? Not Recent
  3. No response.
  4. What do you consider to be the pros/cons of placing planning in-house with media-buying agency, vs. at creative agency (or vice versa)? Media planning is really done by the buy agency with partnership style inputs from our Creative AOR and Brand teams. Since we have all of our media buying at one agency, we leverage the spend to drive planning costs down as the brands can utilize different agencies.  Additionally, we feel that the media buying agency is better at planning and knows the space to a greater extent.

Member Response # 26

  1. Do you bundle your media planning with another agency function? (Yes/No) No - we use our media AOR.
  2. If current structure is a recent change, why did you make this change, and what were your considerations for changing?  
    We just hired a media agency as our integrated media and communications agency AOR. This was after having a separate offline group that was bundled with our creative AOR and a different online media AOR. Way too may "cooks in the kitchen," a lot of inefficiency and media was always second in a creative shop.
  3. No response.
  4. What do you consider to be the pros/cons of placing planning in-house with media-buying agency, vs. at creative agency (or vice versa)?
    We have our media agency handle both planning and buying. It gives us strong external perspective and expertise for strategy development and major buying power in the marketplace.  
Source

"Media Bundling." ANA TV Advertising Committee, Print Advertising Committee, and West Coast Media Committee, 2008.