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Digital Velocity Podcast Hosted by Tim Curtis and Erik Martinez

28 Creating the Right Media Mix - Mary Ann Pruitt

This week on the Digital Velocity Podcast, Mary Ann Pruitt of Mosaic Media joins Erik and Tim to discuss creating the right media mix to accomplish goals and reach target audiences.

Mary Ann explains, “Today is the day that a media mix is so important. That is what we all as marketers have to look at is, what is my media mix? Do I have all my eggs in one basket? I need to mix this as a whole. It doesn't mean that you have to be on traditional platforms and digital platforms. There's a lot we can cover within that, but what am I doing for my overall branding, and then what am I doing for the rest of that funnel?“

Defining goals and understanding customers are key steps when creating a media strategy. Mary Ann says, “Take that step back, look at those goals, and just look at how those are going to work together, how your goals are going work with each platform. Get to know your customer. I know that sounds like marketing 101, but really get to know your customer.”

Mary Ann says that another crucial element of a media plan is having, “the right mix of your media. Use the media formats in their strengths. Don't use them just to use them. Use them where their strengths are that match up with your goals. That is where you're going to have that key marriage. Don't just use them. Have them there for what they're good at and then what you are trying to accomplish with them.”

Listen to this week’s episode to learn more about finding the right media mix to achieve goals and connect with customers.

About the Guest:

Mary Ann is the CEO and President of Mosaic Media, a collection of media buying experts and creative strategists who negotiate, purchase, and monitor advertising space and airtime.


Erik Martinez: [00:00:00] Hello. Welcome to this episode of the Digital Velocity Podcast. I'm Erik Martinez from Blue Tangerine.

Tim Curtis: And I'm Tim Curtis from CohereOne.

Erik Martinez: Today, we're excited to have Mary Ann Pruitt joining us on the podcast. Mary Ann is the CEO and President of Mosaic Media, a collection of media buying experts and creative strategists who negotiate, purchase, and monitor advertising space and airtime. She's here today to share some marketing wisdom gleaned from her extensive career in media strategy and how it relates to the ever-evolving climate of media. Mary [00:01:00] Ann, welcome to the show.

Mary Ann Pruitt: Hi, Erik and Tim. How are you? Thank you for having me.

Erik Martinez: We're doing good. Mary Ann, maybe you could just give our audience a quick synopsis of who you are and your journey in media buying so we can dive right into the topic.

Mary Ann Pruitt: People always say, oh, I just fell into my job. I fell into this, right, and that's similar to how my journey was. I started as a graphic designer way over 20 years before graphic design was all digitized. So, I'll say it that way. I had to scan in So, that's where I started.

So, that got my love and I was really young. I was 17 when I started on that and I really fell in love with marketing first, actually. Then as I went to college and as I started to really find my passion within marketing is when I found a love for economics, believe it or not, and data and statistical data.

Well, there's nothing more statistical data than media and I found myself in a career of media, and worked for some of the largest firms in America and have had that privilege [00:02:00] of being able to work at that level in various places in TV, radio, all the above on the traditional platform side. So, I've really been able to see this evolution of media starting at such a young age to now.

I'm part of that generation that's, you know, we understood digital. It came to us. We are the generation that created any digital platforms that were ad platforms, but at the same time, I was young enough to be in that traditional sense that I've seen all the above. That statistical data side of it is what really got me hooked on media and who would've known a lot more than 20 years later, that this is where we would be digitally, where data is all that matters, and data is all that we look at, and data is what we're constantly looking at to tell us the story of where we're headed.

Erik Martinez: Which is really funny because Tim and I are old pros at direct mail. Well, Tim's got roots in multiple places, but I grew up in direct mail. That was what I did as an intern in college. That's what I grew up in when I [00:03:00] graduated from college and then I got into Ecommerce. For us direct mail-oriented people, you know, you're talking about data, data, data, and we think like the data's junk. We can't draw connections and it's hard to measure and all those things.

So, we're gonna dive into all those topics today, because I think there is a misconception about how measurable and impactful different forms of media can be. Let's talk a little bit first about what you think the differences are between digital and traditional media.

Mary Ann Pruitt: So, in traditional media platforms, you're talking direct mail, television that is through broadcast, radio, not through streaming, but good old fashioned FM/AM. In outdoor, that's primarily what you're looking at. When it comes to digital, I break these into multiple categories.

So, you have your social platforms, Facebook, LinkedIn. You've got those categories. You've got your Google platforms and that's [00:04:00] everything from display to YouTube to PPC to all the above that falls into the Google umbrella, and search engine, as a whole, I actually throw Amazon into that search engine side of digital as well. Then the piece of digital that a lot of times not overlooked, but is intimidating to a lot of people is the programmatic placement. Programmatic is targeting personas and targeting data on individuals of where they are and where they're consuming media.

We are actually starting to see more and more traditional platforms headed into a programmatic type of platform in order to bid and to be able to buy ads in the traditional sense too. So, programmatic and traditional really do work hand in hand as well as the other social platforms, and Google platforms as well, but Google and social, I like to put in their own little category because we no longer can target the way we used to be able to.

They're more branding. Really, specifically, in the social sense. Facebook is no longer a targeting tool. It used to be a great targeting [00:05:00] tool. Things have changed significantly with Facebook. We can no longer target with them. We have to look at that as this is overall brand recognition, what we're doing in that social platform. So, that breaks out the categories. I can talk about each one of those forever, so I'll let you guide it from here.

Tim Curtis: I appreciate that.

Erik Martinez: Yeah, there's a lot to unpack there.

Tim Curtis: There's a lot to unpack there, and I think, so I really liked a couple of things you said, and I was furiously writing some of these things down here. So, you know, I think drawing the distinction between broadcast TV, the traditional element, the terrestrial radio, not streaming services, but your traditional over-the-air radio. Also, the acknowledgment that many of these platforms, these digital platforms, are no longer targeting tools in the sense that the targeting really has been taken away.

I was at a conference earlier this week in Boston and was commenting in one of the sessions about the impact of the Apple intelligent tracking prevention, and then the loss of the cookies really changed the dynamic for many of these channels. At the same time, you have traditional, which was beginning to [00:06:00] rise up and beginning to become better targeted and more refined, and I think the historical criticism that we've had of traditional, outside of direct mail, was that it wasn't very easy to measure. The direct mail was much easier to measure because of the type of medium it was. So, now we're at this place where these traditional realms are heading into that programmatic. Wow, does that change things for a brand that's trying to figure out the new media mix?

Mary Ann Pruitt: Well, and programmatic has to be embraced and if you're not embracing it, then you're not leading your clients down the right path. That's probably like the biggest thing that I preach. Right now, for the first time in American history, we have five working generations. We have five generations in the workplace. Think about that. That's five generations with spending capabilities. Am I gonna reach that 77-year-old man the same way I am the 16-year-old boy? No, and I need to think of that, and how I'm targeting, and what I'm doing.

When I started in media, it was like, I'm targeting an adult that's between the ages of 25 to 54, that I'm looking at my [00:07:00] demographics. We have to start looking at the personas in which we are targeting and how we are targeting it. We have to all get on the boat of programmatic. There's bad ways to do programmatic and there's good ways to do programmatic and there's ways to tie these together.

The targeting side of it, as we're seeing this evolution coming from the traditional side and okay, let's look at how we do this and targeting. When I talk about bad ways of doing programmatic, buy them with their strengths. If I'm buying broadcast, I'm buying broadcast. Do not buy your programmatic from that same TV vendor. Find a good digital partner that has a direct seat on a DSP to buy your programmatic TV. Don't buy it through that TV vendor.

A lot of people are buying it through a vendor that is a TV vendor, that is a radio vendor, and I'm not poo-pooing them all. There are some great ones out there, and there are some that are bigger than others, but the majority of them have so many layers on their CPMs that you're actually not getting a quality CPM, and you're not getting a quality target.

So, if I look at CTV and OTT, [00:08:00] I should be bidding that programmatically with a digital vendor that has a direct seat, not with my TV vendor that I'm buying broadcast with, and a lot of people are doing it that way. So, look at all of these different sectors and buy them correctly and where their strengths are, and how we need to buy them and buy them with the right people and with the right group.

Tim Curtis: So, keep your media broadcast with your broadcast. Keep your CTV, your OTT with a specialist who has the capabilities of targeting specifically within that realm.

Mary Ann Pruitt: Yeah. Yeah. You mentioned the cookies. Those DSPs that have the data that we can target. That's where it's so important that in going into those multiple layers of our personas of who we want to target. I'm not just targeting a woman between the ages of 25, 54. I'm targeting the fact that she's got this type of vehicle. She's got this many kids. She's on the road this many times. She's a C-suite business owner. Various things that happen that go into that persona that I'm targeting.

Erik Martinez: [00:09:00] So, I'm gonna walk this back a little bit because I think some people understand some of the terminology you're throwing out.

Mary Ann Pruitt: I know. Yes.

Erik Martinez: And some people don't. There are days that I feel very confused because I think some of these terms are used interchangeably. Right. So, let's talk a little bit about what programmatic is, and the types of media that you can choose in that option, and then talk a little bit about the DPS. A lot of people don't understand how these exchanges work and how that data gets collected and how it can get me used and leveraged to drive your media program. So, let's just spend a couple of minutes there. I wanna go a deep dive.

Mary Ann Pruitt: Yeah. Yeah, and I think that's really good. I call programmatic right now, the wild west. Everybody has this idea of what digital is and what it looks like, and programmatic, I know I'm supposed to be doing it, but I think I'm using Google as programmatic. Google is technically a desk. It technically is, but what my strengths are in it are not going to be the same as if I am looking [00:10:00] at another form of a DSP.

So, let me start with programmatic. Programmatic is a bidding process where I'm bidding on the CPMs based on the persona in which I am targeting based on which the platform and tactic in which I am using. So, the tactics that we can use in programmatic are display, pre-roll audio, streaming audio, OTT, CTV, blueprinting. There's various geofencing, geotargeting, retargeting, all that can be done, programmatically. To Google's credit, really Google's the one that kind of started this type of process and headed into that direction. However, now our data sets and DSPs are essentially the desk in which you are training.

I like to make it as clear of an association as if it's like stocks. You're bidding, and it's a desk that you're bidding on. What happens is you have these minimums in order for you to have a seat on a desk and for you to be able to be a part of them. They're expensive. You have to be able to [00:11:00] spend millions of dollars a year to have a direct seat where you are bidding, where you're doing these different things for you to be there.

But what happens is if you partner like people like us, we have direct seats. That's what we do 'cause that's all we do. We only hang out in the media space. So, we got the traditional, we've got the social, we've got the Google, and we've got the programmatic. That's all we hang out in. So, we meet those minimums collectively with everybody that we work with. So, you find people like us that have that direct seat and give you the best of both worlds.

Not just going to maybe a desk and saying, okay, this is what I wanna do, but you can't meet the minimums. Or having somebody else like through another vendor, like a TV vendor, but they're not the direct seat either. They've got four or five other layers behind them that are managing it. Sometimes just two or three, but still there's layers. So, by the time you're getting to them, your CPMs are through the roof.

So, it's having this balance of somebody that's directly bidding for you, and directly thinking about the strategy and optimizing for [00:12:00] you. That's another thing to go into with programmatic is you can have those instant changes of what you need to do to optimize for who you're reaching and how you're reaching them and to see, okay, if this ad set's actually outperforming this ad set. AB testing is something that you use in the programmatic space all the time.

To boil it down into a little nutshell, programmatic is bidding for CPM for the persona in which you are trying to target and where they are, and that's in multiple platforms and tactics, and websites. Being able to be in display in multiple websites and a DSP is that desk in which you are bidding.

Erik Martinez: I think there's a lot of misconceptions about what those things are, and I think you raise a really great point about working with the radio broadcaster, who is also trying to throw some digital. For one client, we're looking at a TV ad buy and they're like, but you can do all this digital stuff, and I'm like looking at the rates going, we can do better than that, and I don't have a direct seat. I think it's really important to understand those layers. So, thank you. [00:13:00] Thank you for that.

Mary Ann Pruitt: And with that, just to add to that, is it's that misnomer that how is programmatic different than Google? Our CPMs in Google are gonna be a little different, but they're not gonna be as targeted as they're gonna be on a desk and certain desks with the first-party data that's available. You have to weigh through. Google has its place. All of these tactics and platforms that I talk about from traditional all the way to programmatic, they all have their place of where their strength is, and that's where the good media mix comes from.

Erik Martinez: So, what are you seeing in terms of the combination of digital and traditional? And it may vary by persona, or it may vary by market, but what combinations seem to work best? You alluded to, Hey, programmatic works really well with traditional. Dive into that for a few minutes.

Mary Ann Pruitt: Yeah, for sure. So, it does matter on who you're targeting. However, I like to talk about the strengths of traditional. We saw a huge comeback of traditional media, and actually, frankly, we saw a huge bump in media consumption as a whole, going through this pandemic. People were consuming media and then it was like, [00:14:00] people are consuming media on all platforms and each generation consumed it differently and their habits changed differently.

In America, we've seen this with any type of catastrophic event that takes place. We see media consumption change. After 9/11, morning news went through the roof. To this day, we still have strong morning news numbers because of the fact that they wanna know that the America they went to bed to is the America that they're waking up to.

So, there's certain things in habits that we see shift. With the pandemic, we saw traditional platforms start to go and increase. With our older generations, we saw a digital increase. People that would've never been on social media or an evolution that would've taken 10 years, it happened overnight. Where people in their seventies, all of a sudden were on social media, like nothing else because of the fact that's how they stayed in touch with their family, 'cause they couldn't talk to anybody. Those habits have stuck. Those habits are still there.

On the other side, we saw young generations start to consume traditional formats as if they were new formats. [00:15:00] They started to listen to local news. They started to listen to local radio because it mattered to them, and the smaller the town, the more of an increase we saw that in because they wanted to pay attention to what was happening in their backyard specifically.

So, when it comes to, how does this mix work together, having traditional and having programmatic work together is it's using them for their strengths. So, in traditional formats, so if I'm going just broadcast television, I want to focus on where our strengths are with it. So, it's going to be live news or live events. That's where the strengths are, sports, news that's going to give me information. Those are our main concentrations. Prime time still has some numbers and ratings in it. However, primarily we are seeing those being streamed more than we are being consumed on broadcast. They're there, and some is being consumed, but it's more of our older demographics that are still only consuming broadcast.

Throughout the country, we are seeing cable networks and broadcast networks, all switch to streaming as [00:16:00] providers, and providing that streaming device, because cord cutters are happening left and right. That is a significant shift for America. So, how are we buying that? It's changed broadcast pretty significantly looking at, okay, programmatically, how do we do that OTT and CTV? But if you're buying broadcast, you are needing to look at that local news and you're needing to look at that live sports.

Tim Curtis: So, you said something there I want to emphasize, and you talked about the strength of the channel, right? If brands get into trouble, it's because they are expecting something that that channel may not be the best in terms of able to delivery. Also understanding when you can use a medium that is gonna have very clear tracking and conversion, and then the other end where it's gonna be more top of funnel, more branding, more awareness, and each has its place.

Mary Ann Pruitt: Yes.

Tim Curtis: But if you do not understand the strength of those channels, the strength of your performance in those channels, and the lifetime value of what's occurring in those [00:17:00] channels, that's where it gets into trouble. Brands are spending media in areas that they're not going to necessarily like, for example, retargeting or bottom-of-funnel conversion. Where do we really focus those dollars?

You do need to look at performance and you need to look at what's actually happening in those channels, but too oftentimes, doesn't matter, whether it's digital or traditional, there's not really a sobriety about what the strength of that channel is and what the weakness is. You can't spend your way through broadcast to profitability. Just can't. Those days are long gone. There's still people who operate almost with blindfolds when it comes to that media buy.

Mary Ann Pruitt: Well, and to add to that, it's a full-funnel for a reason. You don't have a part of a funnel. Like, if we actually take the full analogy of a funnel. If I'm pouring a liquid into a funnel, but I only have the conversion portion of it that liquid's gonna go everywhere. So, it's a funnel for a reason, 'cause it's funneling into where we want it to be in a conversion and into a sale. Today is the day that a media mix is so important. That is what we all as marketers have to look at is, [00:18:00] what is my media mix? Do I have all my eggs in one basket? I need to mix this as a whole.

It doesn't mean that you have to be on traditional platforms and digital platforms. There's a lot we can cover within that, but what am I doing for my overall branding, and then what am I doing for the rest of that funnel? That overall branding and that top-of-the-funnel part of it is often ignored of how do I do that to then convert down into where the funnel is where I want to get them to when I'm targeting them?

Tim Curtis: To what degree should you spend in that area? Right?

Mary Ann Pruitt: It depends on your goals. It really does, and it depends on what you're looking at and depending on what markets you're in, but if you're a brick-and-mortar, you need to make sure you still have that top-of-the-funnel really there. That traditional platform has to be there. You can't just go, all of it needs to be programmatic targeted. Does some of it need to be programmatically targeted? Yes. If you're a brick-and-mortar, you need to be looking at some blueprinting on competition on various things that you can do, and for counts of people coming in the door. Various things within that [00:19:00] brick and mortar that you can carry.

But I should also be looking at, okay, overall branding on the traditional front, and depending on who my target audience is. If it's a more traditional older demographic, I still have to have that mix there for overall branding. It doesn't mean it's my call to action anymore. So, use them for their strengths. So, if I'm looking at the traditional sense, broadcast is more branding than it is call to action. Is there some call to action that takes place? Sure, but really that's not where our strength's gonna be. Programmatic, that's where our call to action's gonna be more, but the two have to be used hand in hand so that the brand as a whole is getting to that conversion close.

Erik Martinez: Let's go back to that analogy of a brick and mortar, and then I want to move to direct to consumer, right? 'Cause, they're very different animals.

Mary Ann Pruitt: Yeah. Very different.

Erik Martinez: So, in the brick and mortar sense, you know, you said, Hey, you need to have that top of funnel. How do I fill the top of that funnel? What media choices do I make? How much budget should I allocate to it, and then [00:20:00] how do I measure it? What are the KPIs that I should be looking at to say I'm having success and how long do I need to give that a chance to succeed?

Mary Ann Pruitt: Any media plan you need to give a good 90 days to test it and to optimize and to shift and get enough data, and in the traditional sense, more and more, when you're watching TV, you'll see a QR code on an ad. Why? Because that's another way for us to start tracking our traditional sense. Americans are used to them now. We use them in restaurants. We use them everywhere, right?

Erik Martinez: Thank you Pandemic.

Mary Ann Pruitt: Yeah, exactly. It made it great for marketers to be able to now have more of a tracking device. Filling that top of the funnel in a brick-and-mortar is going to be different than to a B2B scenario, right? A brick and mortar having that top of the funnel and that brand needs to be filled enough, but you need to find where that audience is. If you are targeting men between a certain age, I know that my live sports is gonna be important. There's gonna be some things.

Me, live sports is my [00:21:00] thing. I am there all the time. I was raised by a single dad. My favorite season right now is because football and baseball are happening at the same time. This is the best thing in the world. So, you can't just say it's just men that think that way, but we're gonna see where our data points are gonna be of where that targets gonna be. Right?

If I'm targeting a more traditional platform on it, then I know that's how I need to fill the top of that funnel. I need to fill it with the overall impressions that are coming from a traditional sense, but then I can target them where they are because they're now online too. Now I can take the rest of that funnel and I can fill it where it's specific targeting based on their behaviors.

We're so scared to have this mix. A lot of times marketers are just timid and frankly, brands are timid because you have this pendulum swing of Nope, it's all digital. Nope, it's all traditional. We are taking them on a seesaw of back and forth of where it needs to be where in reality right now, all forms of media are being consumed. We just have to use them in their strengths.

Erik Martinez: That's awesome. I was [00:22:00] listening to my business partner's podcast, which focuses on home builders. Over the course of their 130 or whatever episodes that they've done, we've heard this theme over and over and over and over and over from marketing directors. Like, we've taken everything out of traditional and we put it all in digital 'cause that's where we gotta be. But what I'm hearing you say is that may not be the best strategy for your business. You need some of both. So, now let's talk about direct-to-consumer because I'm not trying to drive somebody to a brick-and-mortar store. I'm trying to drive them to a website or a web property. What are the key differences in that media mix?

Mary Ann Pruitt: You're just filling the top of the funnel differently. That's all it is. To not oversimplify it, but that's what you're trying to do. So, where is the consumer? Where do we want the consumer to purchase? With brick and mortar, I want them to walk in the door. With Ecommerce, I want them to purchase online. I am gonna concentrate on more of overall digital, and my mix is gonna be a little heavier in that digital sense because I want that call to action to be almost instant.

[00:23:00] With bigger online Ecommerce though, there has to be this overall brand, and you'll see this with the bigger brands that there's gonna be a TV mix in that. However, I may look at my TV mix as being more programmatically targeted like OTT and CTV as opposed to broadcast in that sense, if my budget is limited because that's within that digital platform of what I'm thinking and when I'm watching OTT or CTV, you're catching me where I am in my every day, I'm done with work mode and now I'm kind of probably just breathing a little bit and I'm more likely to make that online purchase. So, it's the habits in which we're trying to get. We have to meet the consumer where their habits are and then how are we getting that buying power to go there?

Erik Martinez: You know, I think one of the concerns that I've always had sitting on the direct-to-consumer side is look, we're nationally advertising and I can't compete with Amazon. I can't compete with their budgets. How do I maximize my budget to accomplish my [00:24:00] goals? You know, what are the things that you would recommend in order to get started in a program that says I'm gonna use some traditional, I'm gonna use some digital media, and they're not areas that I'm comfortable with because I've never done it before, and I perceive that I can't directly tie the result back to my sales? 'Cause, that's one of the things we always hear. Right, Tim?

Tim Curtis: All the time. Yeah.

Erik Martinez: All the time. I just came out of a meeting with a client who, they've spent over the last couple of years, a decent amount of money in media. We don't really think we got a ton of out of it. We showed them the other day some things that we were tying to some of the pay per clicks. Some of the additional things that we can bring in as conversion values. We need to do more of that, but there's a limit. There's a limit on how much I can actually do within pay per click to drive that result without doing something else. So, how do you frame that conversation and how do you convince somebody who's kind of skeptical about it? How do we go about [00:25:00] convincing them to test it and be able to measure the result?

Mary Ann Pruitt: On the programmatic sense of it, the best way is literally, you're reaching out to that consumer where they are in that moment because we know what their habits are. I have to put this in here. Quality CPM. Don't just buy impressions to buy impressions. Buy the impressions that are actually going to where your consumer is. Targeting that. Make sure you have that quality partner that isn't just, yeah, I know you got a $3 CPM. Don't buy on the cheap. Buy on the reasonable. When you're getting fees that are hidden, that's where you don't wanna be, when the multiple layers in the broadcast TV people selling you programmatic, but don't buy it where it's look, I got 4 million impressions.

That's great, but I didn't get any conversions. I wasn't doing any conversion tracking. If I was, it was so minimal and most of those are gonna be bots or junk. It's just the way it is. So, make sure you have that quality CPM. With that, I'm reaching my consumer where they are and when I'm using traditional platforms, I am building my [00:26:00] brand.

So, if I don't have the budget for it, if I don't have the overarching, okay, I need to build my brand. I need to do these things, the digital platform that actually comes in the strongest is direct mail when it comes to this portion of it, because direct mail and programmatic, we can very much mesh together easily with address targeting and IP targeting. So, that's where this marriage comes in quite well and quite nicely. So, using each traditional platform in the strength that it needs to have and based on what the limitations are of the budgets that you have.

Erik Martinez: You just made everybody in our audience, have a nice warm glow in their heart.

Mary Ann Pruitt: Good.

Erik Martinez: 'Cause we preach this stuff all the time.

Tim Curtis: Oh, all the time.

Mary Ann Pruitt: Right.

Erik Martinez: I think that's great.

Tim Curtis: For me, when I hear you say that it's like, how do I clone you to, continue to talk about this? Where I see the danger signs is again, brands not necessarily understanding that when you're doing some top-of-funnel awareness or top-of-funnel branding, [00:27:00] you won't have the same visibility to profitability as you would like on a direct mail site. Where they get into trouble is they have an infinite budget that they start to shift media dollars around without fully understanding the implications of those changes. You shut down or you cut shopping in half because it doesn't always have the highest lifetime value, but yet it moves a lot of product through.

It's sort of balancing that and they're all tough calls, right? I've even gone to the position, and you may disagree, but I've even gone to the position of your brand is not in way, shape, or form ready for large branding campaigns. You know, if you took part of that money and invested in building out strategically your brand, I think you would have more success leveraging those top-of-funnel tools. At the end when you've done some damage to your brand, we kind of need to focus on some of the foundational principles first before we can fully leverage some of those tools.

Mary Ann Pruitt: You're spot on with that. This is what happens. Marketing departments look at the budget and they go, okay, I have the same budget as last [00:28:00] year. I mean, we didn't hit our sales goals completely. We came close. We didn't hit exactly, so I know I need to shift some things around. I mean, what if we tried this, and what if we tried that? As opposed to, Hey, I have all of these puzzle pieces and I need to put the puzzle together to have the picture that I want.

If we just change our mindset to that of this is not throw this to the wall and see what sticks and throw this to the wall and see what sticks. Actually, let's put these into where each platform in media format has its strengths. Don't try to use it outside of that. Just use it for its strengths and use them together in that sense. You've got to look at it as these puzzle pieces to paint this picture for a marketing plan.

I say this often that the marketing plan is a bridge and you've got all these pillars that are holding up this bridge and a media plan is one of them. Oftentimes anytime people say marketing, they're talking media. A lot of times. They're like, yeah, overall marketing plan, it's [00:29:00] my media plan. Well, in reality, there's other things.

To hit on what you just said, Tim, when is the brand side of this right now? Where are you on your brand? Is your brand going to reach your target audience the way you need it to? And by target audience, it's that persona that you've decided that this is who best buys your product. If you are losing sight of that, that's where then everything starts to get out of whack, and you're blaming the media portion of your marketing plan because of it.

There can be some amazing brands out there that just have really bad media plans, and that happens a lot. We see it all the time. So, I'm not, I'm not gonna say it's always the branding side. We see it all the time where we get a media plan that we're like, what the heck were they thinking? I mean, you're a brick-and-mortar. You have nothing over here and you have this but it's just the way it is, and we love to come in and be the heroes when that happens.

Tim Curtis: Yeah, well, I bet you do. You know what? You probably deal with this a lot as well where you're dealing with, C-suite client side. An area that's been really interesting with sort of this coupling of the re-rise. I don't know if [00:30:00] that's how you say it, but the swelling of the traditional media alongside the programmatic. Sort of what's happened a bit is they sort of lack clarity on, you know, some elements where you have really rich data. It's transactional data. It gives you all sorts of information about down to the purchase, the SKU level, category level. Super, super rich information. Instead of understanding that is a foundation for targeting, what's happened is they've moved over to, oh, we should not use that. We should go the direction of the personas.

Mary Ann Pruitt: Oh, my gosh. Yes.

Tim Curtis: Yeah. They put the brand in a position and dangerous. I mean, you can destroy a brand in one retail season if you're not careful with those kinds of things. There's a lot of power in personas.

Mary Ann Pruitt: Yes.

Tim Curtis: But the ability to understand and track transactional level data Is the foundation, and then those personas come in also into the mix, but we don't have a high degree of [00:31:00] education about the importance of the type of data tenants with which to build a solid media strategies. Whereas so you do have a great brand and then they go and do several of those kind of things. They've set themselves back in many cases a year or two.

Mary Ann Pruitt: They do. They take those two giant steps back, right? That one step forward, those two giant steps back. What happens is nothing in your media mix should be pulling you. If my sales data tells me something, but then I have this over here saying, oh no, this is your persona. No, my sales data is gonna tell me who my persona is. If I have that data, I mean that is gold.

Tim Curtis: Golden.

Mary Ann Pruitt: We have to get people more and more in their marketing plans is how are you getting that data? How are you getting the information that's yours? How is your first-party data? Where are your sales coming in? It sounds so old school, but that's everything of tracking of who came in. You know, if you're an old general store, Joe came in Sunday. Mary came in Thursday. Like, it's things like that. That sounds cheesy and weird, but that's data and we are not [00:32:00] utilizing that data.

And I always say this and every interview I do, I probably say this once data always tells us a story, and we just have to read it. . We just have to read that story. Our data is telling us this story, but then over here, our marketer tells me, nope, your persona's over here. This is who your persona is. Well, in reality, your persona is actually right here in your data, and how are we then marrying it into what could be the target persona? How are then we bringing this into compliment where your actual persona is? You only know your persona, don't get distracted by a shiny persona.

Tim Curtis: The element that's so frustrating when you're dealing with personas and you're dealing with, you know, transactional data is people do not shop as a homogenous group.

Mary Ann Pruitt: Right.

Tim Curtis: Their media consumption habits may look more similar at a demographic level, but the shopping does not follow suit. It's so hard to understand. We have a lot of outdoor clients, outdoor enthusiast clients. Big, big brands, and one element that is powerful [00:33:00] is affinity. So, we know that they are outdoors people. They kayak, they hike, et cetera. That's very, very powerful, but when you're coming down to a SKU level and you're looking at consumption of actual types of articles of clothing or something, for example, so hard. So hard to do that.

Mary Ann Pruitt: Well, it's gonna vary. Like, in this case, I'm either gonna be looking at North Face or I'm gonna look at Patagonia, or I'm gonna look at my REI products 'cause we're very outdoorsy people.

Tim Curtis: You live in Alaska after all.

Mary Ann Pruitt: You know, we have to be outdoorsy. Like, this is our life, right? So, the different brands that I'm gonna go for are gonna serve a different purpose of where I am outdoors. If I'm an outdoors person, I do multiple things typically. So, that's where that persona is. Yeah. Do I love my mountain biking? Do I love my hiking? I love my skiing. There's a lot of things that go into that.

It's a matter of we want to meet them where they are, but we also have to take into consideration of who they are. That is this marry together. The data sets are there to tell us that, but the message to them is just [00:34:00] as important. I like to say this a lot. Like, we hang out in the buying side and targeting and finding out exactly where your customers are. What kind of vehicles are they driving? Where are we headed next? Where are you as a brand going to be looking at and where you're targeting?

However, that being said, where is that individual and how am I meeting them? How am I then looking at who they are as an individual and not getting stuck and lost? Like you said, those great brands. I have the data here. Don't tell me that this persona loud squawky thing over here is where I need to be. I need this to marry together. Outdoor is a great example. I need to be thinking, okay, what car are they driving? What kinds of things are here? But not all of them are driving a Jeep. Not all of them are driving a Subaru. Not all of them are.

Tim Curtis: They're not homogenous. That's right.

Mary Ann Pruitt: Exactly, and so, but their buying habits are gonna be similar. It is finding that mix together of where are they as a group? But at the same time, how do we see those buying habits and where are we seeing them coming from? That data is just as important. So then, let's target in that [00:35:00] general area.

Erik Martinez: Mary Ann, I think that's like a really critical element, and it sounds like when you go in and start your media plans, you're starting with the data. So, tell us a little bit about that media planning process and how you start it. A lot of us may not know how to do this and you guys do it every day, so it's second nature. If we were like, Hey, oh man, this is really exciting, and I can expand my horizon, build my business. How do I go about doing it? Obviously, besides hiring it?

Mary Ann Pruitt: Well, of course, but no. The first thing you do is actually what are the goals. What are our goals? That sounds so simple and easy, but what is the goals of the brand? Back to Tim's point of my message to that consumer has to be targeted. Where I'm targeting them is there, but that message has to be there. I often say that it is the science of both. People get either caught up completely in the creative and never then think about the science of targeting, or vice versa. That is probably the biggest detrimental thing that you fall into. [00:36:00] So, what are our goals? Who are we targeting?

I mean, it seems so basic, right? It really does, but it is such a step. I can't tell you how many times people cannot answer that question. Well, I don't know. What are the KPIs of these buys? What are you looking for? Well, I want impressions. Do you really want impressions or do you want sales? How many conversions do you want? How do you want to head this funnel? What does your funnel look like? Oftentimes brands actually cannot answer that question. Even the biggest of big brands are like, well, overall, this is what we've always done, or we've shifted it five years ago and it worked. We've shifted it two years ago and it worked.

Let's start. Okay. What is that goal? What are we trying to achieve going into this next planning season? Are we looking at staying steady? Are we looking at growing? How are we targeting? Who are we targeting for those goals? What is that message point to them to get to those goals?

Tim, I go back to what you were saying earlier about, the squawky persona over here. I'm gonna take that outdoor example. That outdoor [00:37:00] person, we're trying to lump sum them where they are and what they're doing, but that message to them is so important, right? That's back to them as that individual, that piece, and it all boils down to what's our overall goal. Can you have more than one goal? Absolutely.

Then we're gonna look at what the media mix is gonna be to reach that goal. If your goal is primarily Ecommerce, your traditional side's going to be a little bit different and it's gonna be more targeted, and that's where our direct mail piece is gonna come in. That's where those things are gonna come in, but then you're gonna look at overall.

Okay. Programmatically, I'm going to target this way. I'm going to probably use some branding on social as opposed to branding on traditional platforms, and we have to start thinking of social in those branding tools. They're becoming more of an online traditional platform where we're using it for branding as opposed to targeting, and I'm using those together in that sense.

So, I'm gonna look at my goals. What is my media mix for that goals? Where is my target audience? Where is my media mix for that goals? And obviously budget has to play a role in there too. What is the overall budget? Hey, I may [00:38:00] be a small-town grocer in the Midwest. I want to have the traffic of a New York City store, but I have the budget of a small-town Midwest grocer. We have to look at how do you maximize that budget. It seems simple. You have to dive in, and you have to really get into that nitty-gritty of where the data sets are. What is the data telling you?

Erik Martinez: Isn't that the hardest part? Isn't it why a lot of people try to skip some of those steps because it is so complex and a persona seems so easy to understand? It's really easy to understand. Oh, well now I know who this person is, even though they haven't actually talked to the person that matches that persona exactly. That's really the challenge for the busy professional. Let's be honest, the vast majority of our clients do not have singular roles. Everybody has multiple roles, multiple responsibilities, and every day is a fire.

Mary Ann Pruitt: And they don't have time for it, and they're overwhelmed. So, it's easier to check the box and make it done. My son said something to me the other day [00:39:00] and he's going through an amazing life experience right now, and he goes, mom, who knew that living your dream could be so hard? And I looked at him and I was like, oh, what a cool life lesson at 16 for you to grasp? And I said because that's why the majority of people don't live their dream because it is hard. Like, this is your dream way out here. You're getting the taste at the beginning of it and where you're headed towards that dream. You're headed there, but in order for you to get there, all this hard stuff has to happen first.

And as business owners and as brands, it's easy for us to say, yep, target audience this. Yeah. Goals. We'll figure out the sales goals later. Yeah, we did TV, radio maybe a little outdoor, and yeah, throw some of that digital programmatic stuff in there. It's easy to say that. Actually though, if you take a step back and it's okay to outsource that. It's okay to outsource that strategy. Yes. You know your brand best. Good professionals know that you know, your brand best.

So, we want to hear your input on it. We want to hear what you have to say, but in reality, take that step back. You cannot reach that overall [00:40:00] goal of increased sales unless you work that back. Just like what my son said. Who knew that living your dream could be so hard because your dream's way out here and you're just touching it, and it's a lot of work to get there and that's why the majority of people don't ever get there because you have to put that work into it at the beginning.

In this case, it's not hard. You just have to do, and it seems like it's simple and it seems like it's complex when you get into it. It is complex in the sense that it's overwhelming because there's so much to do. However, it's not rocket science. Just sit back and look at it and go, okay. I know who my target audience is. I know where my goals are. I know what my sales were last year. Do I like where my sales were last year? No. Okay. I want my sales to be increased or I was okay with where my sales are. I want to keep them the same. That's all. You just have to ask some of these questions for yourself and breathe and take the time to do it, to then make that outcome for where you're headed.

Tim Curtis: You're right. It's not rocket science. was sitting here thinking that as you [00:41:00] were speaking, and then when you said it I thought, okay, clearly, we're on the wavelength here. To me, it's more methodical. There are steps and processes, and maybe as an industry, those have not been well articulated. There's not those clear steps out there for everybody. So, they don't have something to follow. I'm just curious what do you see that's next on the horizon or trends where things are going?

In my world, I'm looking across dozens upon dozens upon dozens of clients, and we're seeing that the growth of the COVID explosion has settled down in terms of the media channel, media shifts, et cetera. It has left a difference in its wake. So, we are not what we were before COVID, but we're not what we were during COVID, but it feels like it's settling down that you're more traditional broadcast, you're connected TV, you're Over-the-Top. That sort of feels like that's settling down. It's not what it once was, but it's settling down. What do you see is next?

Mary Ann Pruitt: Our habits have stayed. So, there's the consumption, ways we consume, have stuck. It's how much [00:42:00] we're consuming. We're not consuming as much as we were. We are not streaming and binge-watching for hours on end like we were. I mean, that was a real thing. People were on media platforms 24/7 for multiple reasons of escape, but then gathering information. We became hunters and gatherers of information. That is where we were. We don't have that.

I want to say one thing before I move into this of where we're headed. One thing Tim, that I think is also happened is marketers have made it more complex to the client than they need it to be. We want it to seem complex because that's why you need us. Well, in reality, yeah, okay, but you know your customer. Outsource it to the strengths in these people that you need to be working with. You as a brand, probably can't have a direct seat on DSP. That's great. That's fine. Find that partner that can do your full media mix for you, and also help you with overall strategy.

It's great to have great minds in the room. Start first 'cause you know what your goals are going be and clearly communicate that as a brand, to all of your [00:43:00] marketers that are on your team so that they can then develop it. So, you as a leader, what are my goals? Okay. I want increased sales, right? Where am I going with that? Where is that data that's telling me that? It's such a thing, 'cause I think we've made it more complex than it needs to be.

At the same time, brands, please understand that when you say yeah I got $4 million. Here you go. What do you do? That's not just that easy for us to flip a switch and figure out exactly what to do with it either. So, know that we've got to dig in and find that because they'll say, can I get that in an hour? Can I get that in a couple of hours? And you're like, no. You want strategy behind this. If you want a dog pile on your lap. Okay, sure. We'll figure that out, but that's not what you're gonna get. You want true, genuine craft when you're bringing it back to us. So, it's that balance between brands and marketers of how we can work together on it too, and having that candor with each other of being able to be candid of this is reality, this is reality, and that's where you're gonna get your best media and marketing mix.

But to head into [00:44:00] where I see things going. Habits haven't changed, meaning of how we're consuming. We're just not consuming it as much, but at the same time, first-party data for brands is going to be key. There's going to be a lot here, more privacy, more things that happen. It did affect programmatic. It very much affected Facebook and Google and those platforms significantly. It affected programmatic a little bit. But then we were able to adjust and get back into a good rhythm. We just weren't getting as much as we were originally.

You know, now we're getting into that rhythm, but as brands, it's okay to collect your own data and you should, because there are other ways to target and there are other ways to do things. The next step too, that I think we're headed into a lot more is the traditional platforms using programmatic bidding to get into the future and where we're headed. Outdoor is already started pretty significantly in that. Outdoor has its place, and outdoor has a really strong place to be, and as we're programmatically bidding, it's even more so, especially the [00:45:00] more digital boards that we have.

Tim Curtis: Digital boards, it blurs the line between digital media and traditional outdoor.

Mary Ann Pruitt: Yeah, and anything outdoor. Like, people think of outdoor is just a billboard. Well, you know, it's the taxi cabs, it's the subway tiles. It's the various things that happen in different ad sets that are all over the place. When you go to Time Square, those are all digital boards, and it depends on who's owning them of whether or not you're gonna be able to get programmatic bidding, but we're seeing that shift. Now, we're starting to see it in TV and radio as well. It's been happening for a little while, but that's where I see the future of it really happening quite drastically.

Erik Martinez: That's awesome. I actually was just walking through a new wing of the Denver airport and they had all digital boards up. Lots of advertising going on there. So, it is coming to a space near you. We're just about out of time and we want to be respectful of your time today, but any last thought that you'd like to leave our audience with?

Mary Ann Pruitt: Really, truly slow down. Just take the time to outline those [00:46:00] goals and outline where you want  to head and have the right mix. Have the right mix of your media. Use the media formats in their strengths. Don't use them just to use them. Use them where their strengths are that match up with your goals. That is where you're going to have that key marriage. Don't just use them. Have them there for what they're good at and then what you are trying to accomplish with them.

If there's anything that I can just leave with people it's that. Take that step back, look at those goals, and just look at how those are going to work together, how your goals are going work with each platform. Get to know your customer. I know that sounds like marketing 101, but really get to know your customer. We can do so much targeting if you really get to know your customer. There is a lot we can do.

Erik Martinez: That's a fantastic point, and one I preach to my clients at the data level. Going back to something you said about you have the data, you can build the profile off of that. So, I think that's fantastic. Mary Ann, what's the best way for people to reach out to you?

Mary Ann Pruitt: Yeah, you [00:47:00] can get me on LinkedIn, Mary Ann Pruitt, at Media Maps on Twitter, and then also you can go to our website. It's Come straight to me. I love to answer questions. I love to have conversations. So, if anybody ever just wants to reach out and just wants to chat, I'm always open for that.

Erik Martinez: Well, awesome. Thank you so much for your time today. We really appreciate it. We enjoyed the conversation and I think at some point we'd like to invite you back maybe six months down the road and talk some more trends and dig a little bit deeper into some of these topics.

Mary Ann Pruitt: I would love it.

Erik Martinez: Awesome. This is Erik Martinez from Blue Tangerine.

Tim Curtis: And this is Tim Curtis from CohereOne.

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