How Marketing Agencies Can Ensure "Zoom Fidelity" with Media | Industry Insights | All MKC Content | ANA

How Marketing Agencies Can Ensure "Zoom Fidelity" with Media


If you're doing media and marketing right, the strategies and tactics in your plan should all work together to drive a business outcome. But how many times have you looked at a media plan where the strategies and tactics look like they were done by completely separate teams and the two don't exactly line up?

Today's media landscape is more fragmented than ever, and if all your touchpoints aren't working in concert, it's near impossible to drive the right outcomes. If you want to move marketing and media from a cost center to a growth engine, it's pivotal that agencies align all of their media tactics with client business goals.

This is a necessity to meet the demands and expectations of brands. Per a 2024 Setup survey, 55 percent of clients will likely switch from their primary agency over the next few months. And according to a WFA and MediaSense report, clients expect their agencies to deliver business outcomes, challenge the status quo and ensure seamless connections between brands and consumers.

There's a lot at stake here. In this article, we'll talk about a principle to help you stitch strategy and tactics together and how your team can work together to deliver outcomes.

Start With Zoom Fidelity

The most successful media and marketing plans have zoom fidelity. What's that, you ask? Zoom fidelity means there's a clear line between three components of your plan:

1. The problem to solve or the opportunity to capitalize on.
2. The strategy to solve that problem/capitalize on the opportunity.
3. The tactics that deliver on that strategy.

You know your plan has zoom fidelity when it's clear why you're using a specific channel, audience, creative or tactic relative to your strategy (bonus hint: if the channel rationale is based on the audience index, that's not enough).

You can also pressure test this fidelity both up and down. Does the strategy solve the problem or deliver on the opportunity? Is there a clear line between the media activation tactics and your strategy (i.e., the search keyword approach should ladder up to your strategy)? This is the crucial, make-it-or-break it point between failure and success. If there isn't zoom fidelity, your campaigns will suffer as a result.

Delivering zoom fidelity is challenging because it requires coordination and collaboration across different teams and stakeholders. But it can be done!

Think of It Like a Relay Race

Imagine your team is in a relay race. The 4x100-meter relay. If you've ever seen a relay race, you'll note that the runners aren't chucking the baton at their teammates, hoping they'll pick it up and move it through the next leg. There are about 20 meters where they run alongside each other, ensuring a successful handoff.

The same principle applies in media planning and activation. Imagine the first runner is responsible for defining client expectations and the comms strategy for their campaigns. The second runner, who handles media activation, is on deck, waiting for the baton.

Delivering zoom fidelity requires the right handoff. But all too often, these different disciplines are chucking the baton at one another – whether through emailed briefs, siloed handoffs or simply delivering buy specs. These dropped batons are a barrier to delivering a business outcome. And failing to deliver a business outcome can result in client churn.

How To Finish the Race Strong (Without Dropping the Baton)

To deliver on the zoom fidelity described above, your team must run a tight and collaborative race. Here's how to do this.

Understand Your Leg of the Race
Whether your client teams are made up of two people or 20, your client teams must understand how and where they fit in to help clients achieve their goals. Each team member should know what they're responsible for (comms strategies, media activation, analytics, etc.) and when. The secret to strong collaboration is clear roles and responsibilities. Establish these along with clear swim lanes. Knowing where your part of the race sits is key when working with the rest of your team.

No matter what leg they're running, the team is all aligned on where they're going to end up. Getting that alignment before the work starts is a must.

Define Your 20-Meter Dashes
In a 4x100-meter race, both runners will run side by side for 20 meters during the baton exchange. In your marketing campaigns for clients and your media team, define where the collaboration points are. When will whoever handles your comms planning and strategy development work alongside whoever defines and executes the media activation plan? When will they pass the baton, as it were?

Whoever handles media activation should be working with whoever handles your comms strategy earlier in the process. And analytics should be involved from the very beginning. All these functions should partner together on determining the media channel mix and measurement strategies.

Define these collaboration points, make them obvious and concrete, and ensure that everyone understands who's coming together at the right times so that everything is seamless in your marketing campaigns.

Hire People Who Think About the Entire Race
Everyone will have their own leg to run. Not every runner will serve the same function. Your team members will need different skillsets. What's important is to have a team that understands how the entire race must be run. They should not just be thinking about their leg of the race — they need to understand the race from start to finish.

In other words, you need expansive thinkers who can take off their media, strategy, search, or social hats and think more broadly about the audiences and the problems they are trying to solve. Build your team with employees who can see the big picture and understand the business goals each campaign is trying to reach.

Include Your Clients and Other Partners in Your Relay Team
To create media tactics that align with your clients' business goals, your clients need to be integrated into the race itself. You should collaborate with your clients as much as with your internal team. You and your clients must know the goals you're trying to achieve, how you're going to achieve them, and how you will partner along the way.

The same holds true for all external partners. Media does not exist in a vacuum. Understanding other efforts (in-store, PR, promotions) is critical. Including all external partners in this relay team means all those touchpoints work harder together.

You must mutually agree on an ultimate destination (the business goal), the metrics you'll use to measure the results, and the methods (comms strategy) and tactics (media activation plan) you'll use to reach the end of the race.

In the end, everyone should be running the same race, toward the same goal.

What the Race Should Look Like

You know you're running the race well and won't drop the baton when:

  • All media activities are driven by the business goal.
  • Everyone knows the roles they play, when they play them, and when they overlap.
  • Everyone is focused on the same outcome and knows the media goal(s) they're trying to achieve.
  • Your comms strategy is clearly orchestrated across all earned, owned, and paid media by both you and any outside agencies you may be partnering with for some of your media activities.
  • You have clear zoom fidelity across your plan.

Smooth Handoffs and Aligned Goals Lead to Marketing Relay Race Wins

Running a successful marketing campaign is like a well-executed relay race — the baton of the comms strategy must be smoothly passed to activation tactics for the zoom fidelity needed to drive business outcomes. By clearly defining roles, integrating collaboration touchpoints, hiring big-picture thinkers, and involving clients and other partners in the process, agencies can ensure their media strategies seamlessly transition into goal-aligned activations.

With an understanding of how each leg impacts the next, thoughtful preparation and a coordinated team effort, agencies and brands can work in sync to generate campaigns that drive outcomes and create value.
If you keep your eyes on the finish line and run together with your team, zoom fidelity and business success are within your reach.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Stephani Estes is chief media officer at Goodway Group.