Media: from Messaging to Mileage

Day Two of PANA Brand Academy is about the crafting brand messages for many platforms and reaching consumers

By Paul Catiang

How far can a brand message travel? Much farther than smoke signals or a message in a bottle.

Day Two of PANA Brand Academy—held at Facebook Philippines—offered many answers to this question, gathering insights from media agencies, creative agencies, and social media platforms.


Session One: Media Fundamentals

Liam Capati, Touch XDA

“Why do we need to communicate to our audiences?” Liam Capati of Touch XDA asked during his session on media fundamentals.

Media agencies transact the media space more efficiently for brand builders and ensure that the message reaches the right audience at the right place and at the right time. It has also evolved by adding the right context to this messaging, in cooperation with the creative and marketing process.

This evolution has expanded beyond print, radio, and TV to include several channels: digital media, diversified solutions like branded content, influencers, and content partnerships. The media agency also designs solutions that deliver on the KPIs (key performance indicators) of a brand’s business or campaign.

Capati said that the majority of businesses today were created when attention was competing for information. The trend has since shifted to information competing for attention, which in turn is limited by human factors. Information becomes more and more readily available, growing exponentially.

With the dizzying array of media solutions available, how does a brand choose from among them? Capati brought it back to the brands themselves. What are a brand’s business, communication, and media objectives?

Why Communicate?

Answering these questions will then limit the choices to the ones that will help reach these objectives. Asking “Why do we need to communicate to our audiences?” will ideally yield a clear understanding of a pain point that needs to be addressed.

Brands can then choose between optimizing for reach or for frequency, and to compute these against Target Audience Rating Points or TARPS.

Who Are our Audiences?

After asking why, the next question is “Who are our most valuable audiences?” Brands can now identify their most valuable audiences across platforms using familiar tools: demographics and psychographics.

What Media Do They Consume? Where and When?

The target audience narrows the funnel more with their media consumption habits. This prompts another question: “What media platforms and vehicles do they consume, and how will they help me achieve my objectives?” The platforms determine the type and format of the media content with the brand’s KPIs in mind.

This is where the platforms offer more options: TV—free, UHF, cable; social media—Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter; radio—AM and FM; outdoor—billboards; and print. Capati ran through the standard practices for each platform, along with the specific formulas and calculations each one needs.

Timing also matters: yearly seasons, weekly routines, even time of day. The timing likewise varies per platform: online videos alone have several types depending on the viewer’s expected activity, Internet connection quality, and how much attention they can devote. Capati underscored the need to identify moments that matter for the audiences and the business.

How do we measure success?

It all goes back to the business objectives and their related KPIs. Whether cost per view or share of voice, view thru or click thru rates, or the number of attendees at an event or activation, what matters are that the brand’s objectives are met. All this is a result of choosing the platforms that are most relevant to these objectives and what the customers need.


Session Two: Insight-driven Marketing

Joy Santos, Leo Burnett

“What is an insight?” Joy Santos of Leo Burnett asked, starting her session on insight-driven marketing. Her experience has taught her to look at three basic factors.

Insight begins with information and goes beyond it. Knowledge is the foundation. To illustrate, she quoted BBDO’s Phil Dusenberry: “An insight has the capacity to take something that you know in your head and make you feel it in your gut. More than anything else, an insight is a truth that alters how you see the world.”

From there, insight has an element of revelation: it creates a response of “I never thought of it that way before,” as compared to “I never knew that.”  

Lastly, insight leads to action: for insight to be truly useful, it’s not enough to be clever. It has to be actionable.

Can we spot an insight?

Santos ran the participants through an exercise in identifying insights in marketing campaigns based on five categories: product, price, place, promotion, and people.

One of these campaigns was for Kit Kat Japan. There, the confection’s name is pronounced kitto katsu, which translates to “you will surely win.” The brand took this and launched a campaign with Japan Post. The campaign’s beneficiaries were Japanese students, who undergo a lot of pressure during school. Kit Kat created packaging that had space for a short message, an address, and stamps, and the bars were mailed to students at their schools. The insight took the connection between the brand name and the Japanese expression and used it to spread encouragement to students while generating sales throughout Japan.

How can we write insights?

Brand managers face this question in their jobs, and Santos had her advice to give.

Understand your brand, target, and category—intimately. Insight begins with knowing what a brand does, who it serves, and where it belongs. This is the starting point for cultivating insight, and the point to return to for reference.

Nurture yourself with the outside world. This requires curiosity about how the world works and the direction it is headed. Also, brands live in the bigger space, in the consumer’s lives. How do brands interact with the world?

Think vertically and horizontally. This means comparisons: “what other things can we compare with our product?” Santos asked. This leads to a richer and more in-depth way of thinking about a brand and its category.

Make it a habit to find connections, even in seemingly unrelated things. Being curious about the outside world can connect brands to other, similar things: other brands, activities, people, places. These connections can lead to robust and innovative campaigns.

Find joy in writing and in good writing. To write insight, one must also read insight. All the practices cited above can be funneled into writing, which in turn helps cultivate the ability to express insights.

Practice. Practice. Practice. Lastly, this is where the work comes in. Santos ended her session by saying that with enough practice, inviting insight becomes easier.

Session Three: Creative Brief Writing

Joy Santos, Leo Burnett

How is getting a haircut like writing a creative brief?

This was how Joy Santos simplified the usually complicated process for her second session.

There’s some thinking that goes behind a creative brief. In the case of haircuts, it starts with a simple statement: “I want short hair.” This can lead to looking for pegs: funky or cute; ombre or dip dyed-styles; bowl cuts; pixie and chic cuts; and so on.

From this point, the questions can dig deeper: “Why do I want a haircut?” Maybe the hair is too long. Maybe it’s unbearable in the summer heat. Long hair takes time to style. A haircut can mean moving on from heartbreak, or a need to stand out from the crowd, or to make a statement.

Let’s say the main reason for a haircut is the weather—it’s too hot. What options can address this? Short haircuts are the first to come to mind. It’s also possible to style long hair up and away from the neck to keep it cool. It’s also possible to use accessories like hats.

Thus the brief moves on from “what’s the best short hairstyle” to “ways to manage the summer heat.”

“The creative brief is a solution to execute, not a form to fill out,” Santos said, shifting the focus from templated campaigns to thinking deeply about the solution.

1. Think of the best problem to solve.

Writing a creative brief requires thinking of the best problem to solve. Santos referred to Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle.

The outermost circle asks what. Using the above example, the question would be “What’s the best short hairstyle for me?” Going inside, the second circle asks how. “How do I get a short hairstyle?” It goes deeper in terms of technique, but still uses the outer circle’s premises. The innermost, or golden circle, asks why. “Why do I want a short hairstyle?”

By asking the last question, the solution begins to present itself.

2. Investigate all aspects of the problem.

In the example, what emerged was a need to beat the summer heat, which initially presented itself as a need to get a short haircut. This investigation also yielded a few other solutions.

3. Determine the best creative solution to your business problem.

The problem went from “what’s the best short hairstyle” to “ways to beat the summer heat.” If this were a brand, this could mean a number of creative executions or campaigns that go beyond what first comes to mind.

4. Write the brief.

This comes last, after fully investigating the problem and after finding a number of choices in how to solve it.


Session Four: Digital Marketing

Issa Tobias, Google Philippines

It takes a mother 27 days of online research before trying a new brand of baby care.

This was one of the details Issa Tobias opened with in her session on digital marketing, based on her experience as Industry Manager for Google Philippines.

As a business that started with online search, Google sees people activate intent at scale, and in real time.

Search items include many everyday things and activities, like groceries, baby care, and credit cards and loans. Many search items are on how-to’s in various aspects of life: career advice, stress management, financial commitments, self-care, and money management. Philippine search items include recipes, business how-to’s, and health concerns.

Storytelling in the Age of Distraction

The job of marketing has not changed. Echoing Capati’s observation, Tobias said that it’s just harder to get consumer attention. More than being distracted, consumers are tuning things out. Marketing thus becomes a case for increasing the ease at which something comes to mind—still building and influencing memory.

Micro-moments are the new battleground for brands. The challenge to brand builders now is to create these micro-moments that seamlessly blend into consumers’ daily routines. For this, Google has three strategies.

Be There

Content has to be shown at optimal levels of Reach and Frequency. A brand has to be present in the 2.5 billion searches per month—literally a digital shelf. The Consumer Barometer Survey of 2016 states that around 74 percent of in-store buyers have used search as part of their purchase process.

Online search influences 95 percent of offline sales: 87 percent of searches happen before visiting a store, 35 percent after visiting a store, and interestingly, 79 percent while visiting a store. Brand presence on the digital shelf is needed.

Brands also need to maximize the full potential of their ideas in terms of formats and visions—content has to be created for each relevant platform. Which leads to the next strategy:

Be Relevant

Not every micro-moment is relevant to a brand. “Be present for the ones that matter,” said Tobias. Brand builders must identify the areas where they want to lead, compete, and participate, and create content accordingly.

Google has various tools—many of which are free—that can help brand builders take advantage of intent signals to provide assistive content in moments of need.

Be Seamless

Successful marketing leads to action—a point of sale for most. Brands need to make product information readily available to consumers. “Where do I lead my customers? A website, YouTube channel, PR article, or online order?” Again, where the search and the content lead must be relevant to the brand concerned.

Seamlessness can be as simple as the time it takes for a webpage to load—take too long and the consumer might go elsewhere.

The Benefits of Search

There’s a vast difference between users actively seeking instead of passively consuming media—it indicates active interest. Brand can excite active interest; successful offline advertising encourages users to search online.