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Why media planners like social media for ad messages

By Mark Challinor


London, United Kingdom


Hello again from London, England.

In this newsletter, I will be focusing on how to get on the radar of agency media planners and buyers with very specific reasons. Particularly, I am thinking around what to me seems like two hot topics that are “en vogue” and garnering interest in “agencyland” from a client budgeting/allocation point of view.

Those two areas are social media advertising (very relatable, especially to young media buyers as they are consummate users) and, from the client demand side, the topic of climate change and sustainability.

Let me explain more …

An ABC to understanding why planners like social media advertising 

Understanding why media planners and buyers focus on social media advertising is crucial. We need to get under the skin of why they focus so much effort into this area to collaboratively sell ad packages to them — packages that not only suit us, but ones we know will generate better results overall for them or, in the case of an agency, their client.

For many of our advertiser clients (whether direct of via an agency), social media is something they use personally on a daily basis, particularly when you think about the fact that many media planners and buyers (within ad agencies especially) are young and are prime candidates for social media usage.

Advertisers want their brands to be on popular social media platforms.
Advertisers want their brands to be on popular social media platforms.

However, in one way or the other, social media affects us all. Whether you’re a Facebook freak or a TikTok scroller, you will understand why many people, young or old, spend much time on some form of social media platform.

This social behaviour is why we as publishers need to realise why implementing strong social media advertising strategies is more important than ever to many of our advertisers. 

We ignore that at our peril.

So, here are the basic all sales teams need to know.

What is social media advertising?

Social media advertising is seen, in essence, an extension of an advertiser’s overall advertising strategy. They create and publish ads on social platforms, typically to promote products and services or feed into a wider advertising campaign. It is a varied and all-encompassing form of advertising that offers advertisers the chance to be really creative and to be perceived as being “en vogue.” 

It’s also, for some, what they regard to be the best channel to increase brand awareness, as it allows them to portray a specific image of the brand they want consumers to be aware of and, importantly, which they (the planners and buyers) can personally relate to. 

Social media advertising is seen by many advertisers as an opportunity to test what works quickly, allowing them to better understand how people engage with the content created. On a daily basis, they could choose to upload image-focused content or adapted display ads on social media and even choose to work with influencers or use a number of ad tools provided. 

In some cases, they may take a community-focused approach, meaning responding direct to customers and possibly engaging in a wider conversation with other businesses in the industry.

All, perhaps, quite basic so far? But now comes the main point:

Can social media advertising be effective? 

Social media ads can indeed be seen to be effective, thanks to a speedy ROI and almost instant access to any insights. An advertiser could display say, a sponsored social post in any given morning, then have an idea of the engagement and click-through rates by lunchtime. 

Can we match that? 

Can your media company match the quick analytics of a social media platform?
Can your media company match the quick analytics of a social media platform?

This means they can adapt their tactics as and, when they need to, give their advertising the best opportunity for success. 

Again, can we match that? 

By utilising insight features and other tools, they can extract data to understand which aspects of their social strategy are generating the best results at speed. 

Social media advertising is seen as giving direct access to possible customers as well as instantaneous insights. These can then be used for market research on any new products in the advertiser’s pipeline. Plus, it gives them the chance to speak to a larger audience.

Organic reach is difficult to achieve. But social advertising provides a quick win. Features (which can be easily turned on/off) can help an advertiser fully understand what works for the relevant brand and the demographic they’re trying to reach.

Can your range of offerings compete?

Why understanding the above is important

The above, some of which may not be rocket science, is nonetheless a summation of what I believe we need to understand. This is what a younger generation of media planners and buyers will be tuned into.

Tackling the facts head on, showing you understand, and providing your media company’s response to that (stacked up against your portfolio of offerings) will reap benefits. The benefits will include getting closer to your advertisers, aligning with them and their thoughts, and being able to demonstrate why social media advertising can still work alongside a range of other media options (not necessarily exclusively), which they may not have considered due to what they have been shown on many occasions to be an unconscious bias in their media selection.

Further reading

Advertiser requests for sustainability and climate change coverage

In the 2020s, we have seen publishers begin to invest in more climate change coverage. The question this poses is whether this content is actually garnering interest from our advertisers. 

For the likes of major media brands such as the BBC, Bloomberg, The Economist and the FT, the answer is a big yes.” 

Indeed, many say their advertisers are sending out more requests for publishers to offer sponsorship or ad campaign opportunities to them around solutions-based editorial” — a growing trend of interest in publisher’ content/coverage of sustainability and climate change. 

Brands like to be adjacent to climate change content.
Brands like to be adjacent to climate change content.

The key points I have noted seem to be:

  1. For the BBC, up to two-thirds of its advertiser briefs now contain a sustainability or climate element.”
  2. Of Bloombergs top-50 largest ad proposals, approximately 20% are centered around sustainability and ad revenue from Bloombergs climate-focused platform Bloomberg Green” has increased 144% in the last 12 months.
  3. The Economist is now achieving large, multi-year ad deals around its Sustainability Project.”
  4. Financial Times has seen a 10X increase in request in proposals in the last year from advertisers seeking to position themselves with FTs sustainability and climate editorial. Up to 50% of requests highlighted that sustainability and/or climate change as a contextual alignment” demand.

To be asked by media companies the world over: Are you offering your advertising clients opportunities around climate change/sustainability, special features, sponsorship opportunities, branded content, etc.? If not, why not?

Further reading

About this newsletter 

Today’s newsletter is written by Mark Challinor, based in London and lead for the INMA Advertising Initiative. Mark will share research, case studies, and thought leadership on the topic of global news media advertising. Sign up for the newsletter here.

This newsletter is a public face of the Advertising Initiative by INMA, outlined here.

E-mail Mark at with thoughts, suggestions, and questions or follow him on Twitter (@challinor).

About Mark Challinor

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