Case Study, Research

Case Study: Automation of Media Planning in a Telecom Company

Most TIER-1 companies, whose ad inventory includes over 10 000 media units, face certain difficulties with media buying, ad planning, auditing and analyzing, as well as media biddings.

In this case study we take a look at how AdoptoMedia’s CheckMedia Solution V1.0 helps a telecom company with media bidding and media planning automation. In order to cover all of the company’s marketing processes the solution was integrated with a Marketing Resource Management (MRM) system.

 

1. Planning and launching an ad campaign: the key elements

In a telecom company, one of the CMO’s key goals is to manage regional marketing activities, which includes ad campaigns: production of creatives, media planning, media buying and ad placement monitoring.

In our case, the telecom company uses the following media channels in ad campaigns:

  • TV;
  • Radio;
  • OOH;
  • Digital.

Here are the key elements of the company’s media buying process:

  • campaigns  take place in over 500 cities, meanwhile media buying and placement are managed by all 59 regional offices and the central marketing department;
  • the regional offices are responsible for local ad suppliers and provide daily support for the ad planning and buying processes. The central marketing department controls and coordinates all regional office activities, and handles ad planning and buying from federal suppliers;
  • over 25,000 ad media are purchased annually for all media channels. All the media are listed in a single XLS table consisting of approximately 25,000 lines and 30 columns;
  • throughout the year, the company usually plans several short creative bursts (“flightings”), producing new ad media layouts in all media channels. A flighting starts in all channels simultaneously. Each flighting requires production of creatives, which in turn need to be replaced by the time another flighting begins;
  • the company employs two methods of media buying:

     

    • central media buying. Once every 2-3 years a media bidding is held for the selection of two agencies: a planning ad agency and a buying ad agency. After the winning bidders are determined, ad media are planned and purchased from federal suppliers. The purchase is made for the entire year, however throughout the year changes may occur, causing the modification of all purchase-related documents;
    • media bidding for regional ad suppliers. After partial buying from federal ad suppliers, the remainder of the planned volume is purchased through bidding. Requests for proposals (RFPs) based on the list of required ad media are distributed among media suppliers; quotes are collected and the ad media database is utilized to support negotiations.
  • the company spends lots of resources and effort to monitor ad placement. Monitoring is required to make sure that the remunerated ad campaigns are truly implemented to an appropriate quality standard and proper extent. Each media type requires its own monitoring system. The results serve as a basis for charging fines or receiving compensations;
  • over 300 suppliers participate in the ad buying process; the central office approves the quotations, while the suppliers provide detailed information and reports on ad placement.

 

2. Marketing a telecom company: choosing an automation solution.

The key factors behind the choice of the solution:

  • the customer needs a platform (an off-the-shelf solution);
  • the solution must have a stage-by-stage implementation scenario without disrupting the marketing department’s workflow;
  • the solution must store an ad media database and be agency-agnostic.

 

The project can be implemented as an integrated solution: CheckMedia Solution V1.0 + an MRM system, consisting of the following modules:

  • marketing calendar;
  • document approval workflow;
  • media plan manager;
  • media bidding manager;
  • creative materials manager;
  • finance manager.

 

The MRM system vendor implements and integrates the following modules that CheckMedia Solution V1.0 is compatible with:

  • marketing calendar. A single marketing calendar allows to record all stages of negotiation, buying and placement (etc.) procedures. All the currently planned tasks are located in one calendar, helping avoid disruptions in the advertising activities;
  • document approval workflow. Documents (marketing calendar, media plan, media bidding, media file) are approved while denoting the approval sequence. Each business process has a specific approval route;
  • creative materials manager. All media files are contained in the single storage system supporting different file versions;
  • finance manager. The process comprises ad placement monitoring, detection of short-deliveries,       payment of fines or assignment of compensations and calculation of the final monthly amount.

 

AdoptoMedia implements the following modules as part of the CheckMedia Solution V1.0 software suite:

  • Media Plan Manager. Provides the ability to store an ad media database, record media plan versions and combine several media plans into one aggregated media plan:

     

    • the module supports uploading and storing information about the available ad media for all media types;
    • the uploading of ad media into the database provides the ability to create media plans using a media search system with filtering by region and media type;
    • the module supports creating, changing and approving media plans by all regions while recording the approval log;
  • Media Bidding Manager provides the ability to compare pricing quotations among the participating agencies:

     

    • allows to create and approve RFPs by each media type;
    • supports setting up bidding parameters, collecting bidder data and approving (accrediting) the selected bidders;
    • sends RFPs to participating suppliers, collects pricing quotations from bidders and saves the submitted quotation amounts;
    • bidders and their quotations are automatically compared and recommendations are made on the selection of winning bidders for each individual item of the RFP. Results of the tender can be sent out to the participants. Report with results can be drawn up and exported into Word/Excel.
 
 

CheckMedia Solution V1.0 deployment plan:

Stage

Description

Result

Term

Develop and approve ad media database templates

 

  • Determine the types of media the company works with.
  • Create templates for each media type.
  • Approve the titles and content of each field. Set up drop-down lists for fields with fixed content and field types: numeric, text, etc. Determine calculated and required fields. Fields are assigned access levels by company and agency department.

OOH, radio, TV, Internet database templates implemented.

5 weeks

Develop and approve media plan templates

 

  • Create media plan templates.
  • Approve the titles and content of each field. Set up calculated fields. Fields are assigned access levels by company and agency department.

Media plan templates (OOH, radio, TV, Internet) are implemented into the system.

6 weeks

Develop and approve media bidding templates

 

  • Set up the media bidding process.
  • Set up bidding parameters.
  • Set up bidder accrediting parameters.

Implemented the media bidding module into the system.

8 weeks

Set up reports

 

  • Set up potential reports and analytics.
  • Set up ad monitoring process.

 

Reporting module set up and fine-tuned.

2 weeks

Acceptance testing

 

  • System demonstration
  • Supervise system operation in compliance with the SRS (Software Requirements Specifications)

Acceptance certificate signed.

6 weeks

User training

 

  • Send out user manuals.
  • Train users.
  • Set up ticket system for technical support and troubleshooting.

Users operate the system.

5 weeks

System commissioning

 

The company now employs a media plan manager and media bidding module.

 

3. Implementation results

 

Task

Current automation level

CheckMedia Solution V1.0 automation level

Ad campaign schedule

 

1. A schedule of all ad campaigns planned for the upcoming year is recorded in an XLS file.

2. After the timeline for the ad campaigns is set, deadlines are determined for signing agreements, making payments, producing the creatives, etc. The marketing staff plans its activities in a calendar via mail or xls file.

3. If an ad campaign schedule is modified, it is then re-approved between various departments, followed by the sending of the updated file to all employees involved in ad placement. Each employee modifies information in their calendar based on the updates received.

1. The ad campaign schedule is set as a single unified calendar with all media buying activities. All stages of approval, buying, placement, etc. are linked to the unified calendar.

 

2. Such functionality enables the central media department to monitor all the planned tasks and avoid disruptions in the advertising activities.

Document approval, including creatives, media plans and placement reports

 

1. The approval process is not described explicitly, but due to many years of experience is informally understood by all employees.

2. The approval process takes place mainly via mail, while some processes (less than 10%) are implemented based on Lotus .

3. Approval deadlines are monitored by the assigned employees; a failure to meet a deadline is followed by a letter or a phone call to the employee/supplier at fault.

1. The approval process is set based on a role model specifying the sequence of steps in the business process. Each business process has an individual approval process.

2. The approval process is linked to the unified calendar; if a deadline is missed, all the responsible persons are notified.

Joint work of the central media department and regional offices in shared databases

 

1. Google Docs are used in the transferring of technical requirements and marketing materials to the suppliers.

2. Regional and central departments jointly edit the same file, while each region has access to their own tab.

1. Automation of joint work via special web forms integrated into the approval system.

2. Only the authorized employees have access to data input.

Ad placement management

1. The main tool is an Excel file describing all the stages of the ad placement process.

2. Rights are demarcated between various users by splitting one common XLS file into several and sending them out to each user separately.

3. Changes made to the XLS files are approved by e-mail. Authorized employees monitor the validity of all linked XLS files and manually synchronize data.

4. Changes made to an XLS file are logged on dedicated pages within the file. Old versions are not archived.

1. The system stores a single unified table containing all the information on all the stages of ad placement: schedule, media plan, agency deals, placement reports, etc.

2. Depending on the approved business processes and roles, the table is filled in  via special web form. Authorized users can see the changes in the table and initiate changes on their own.

3. The changes are approved via special web interface.

4. Uploading and downloading of XLS files is supported on all stages of business process.

5. When an ad is placed, the system generates billing statements and certificates in XLS format.

 

Media bidding

 

1. A bidding is launched by sending RFPs to approved participants via mail. The deadlines are monitored by the authorized employees.

2. The list of ad media selected for the bidding is a team effort by central regional departments. The ad media are selected from special XLS databases and are marked on Yandex.Maps (for OOH ad media).

3. Each media type has its own RFP template in XLS format to be filled in by all the bidders. If there are deviations from the templates, the authorized employees correct those manually.

4. Bids are compared manually by the authorized employees.

5. The bidding report is written manually by the authorized employees.

6. The results of all biddings (media plans) are manually aggregated in one unified XLS file.

 

1. Biddings are held in a special system. Participants are selected from an authorized list of ad suppliers. Ad media are selected from the unified database, with name and geo filtering.

2. To take part, all bidders fill in the web form in the system.

3. Bids are compared automatically, while the authorized employees can modify the selection.

4. All the necessary documents are generated automatically by the system.

Ad media database

1. The company has an internal XLS database with coverage of the TV/radio channels. Having received a media plan from an agency, the company’s manager compares the received file with the internal one manually.

2. All OOH media planned for buying are marked manually on the map  by the ad planning agency and regional marketers. When all media are marked, the map is attached to the media plan and approved via mail. During the approval process changes are manually made on the map and in the XLS file.

 

1. Ad databases are stored in the system and made up of data uploaded from all the available sources: XLS files, customer's internal databases and via integration with external databases.

2. All ad media are mapped.

3. When setting up a media plan/RFP, ad media are selected via a special search interface containing specific filters for each media type, geofilters and so on.

The transfer of creatives among the participants of the media buying process

1. All the creatives produced for each flighting are uploaded to an ftp server. The creatives-producing supplier uploads files; the central department verifies compliance with the terms of reference and sends corresponding links to the ad placement suppliers.

2. The manual exchange of creatives among suppliers can lead to ftp issues: wrong links to wrong suppliers, links to expired creatives, etc. It is almost impossible to determine the guilty party. Meanwhile, the company incurs financial losses.

1. All creatives are contained in a unified storage system supporting file version control and gathering download statistics by different user types.

2. The central department has access to the change log and can identify the user at fault.

 

Implementation KPI for CheckMedia Solution V1.0

 

KPI

Before

After

Regional coverage

The marketing activities covered 59 regions.

Without staff expansion the number of regions increases to 67.

 

Media plan approval time

40% of the central department's time was spent on media plan approval.

25% of time is spent on media plan approval, with an increased number of regions.

 

Media plan approval process

In MS Excel and via mail.

In the media planning system with division by region, access levels and users (agencies, regional marketers, employees of the central marketing department).

 

Media bidding system

In MS Excel and via mail.

30 bidders;

200 media tenders.

 

Automated bidding system
 

300 bidders;

2000 media tenders.

 

The buying price is reduced by 4.5% due to the involvement of more bidders.

 

Verification of agency price guarantees

None

Upon each modification of media plan, price values for ad media in the agreement and the current media plan are compared automatically.