Media Innovation & Disruption – What you need to consider

About 11 years ago as a Junior Planner, I got into a client meeting with my manager – and it the first shocker of my career. My usual experience with clients and customers had always been casual and positive. This meeting gave me a different dose of agency-client relationship which made me look at my job in a different dimension. Post introductions, the marketing director who had just resumed the role and had called for the meeting was very direct:


“Mr. (referring to my manager) thank you for coming with your full team, and I must say I am highly disappointed in your team and the current approach to the ongoing campaign. Tell me the difference between the campaign execution being run now and the last one you did. You bought the same stations and similar programmes, almost similar number of spots, same copy duration…what is going on?”  What we discovered post-meeting was that he had figuratively ‘beaten’ the marketing team for lack of differentiation and innovation in their media execution, and had offered to give direct feedback to the media team.


That meeting still rings a bell in my consciousness today, and it is more evident that that must we plan and execute our media campaigns with innovation at their core and the following realities we face today:


  1. The proliferation of media channels and platforms: This is a reality that we live with today in Ghana. There are over 400 radio stations, Internet penetration is at about 35%, and there is massive growth of social media; digitisation has further increased the number of TV stations from about 5 to 54+, and there is an increase in OOH (Out Of Home) clutter with different formats springing up.


  1. Consumer Attention span: With the above point it is even more complicated, because the consumer attention-span has further reduced. According to a study by Microsoft, the average human being now has an attention span of eight seconds; and according to research from Jampp “human attention span decreases by a whopping 88 percent every year” thanks to technology, which is not likely to slow down.


If you juxtapose these two key elements, it is even more imperative to create a major differentiation with your media execution – which is as important as every other aspect of your brand-building initiative. We traditionally say that innovation is a key for enhancing disruption to further attract the consumer to receive your message and act. This must be part of the brand’s strategic consideration in approving a media strategy and plan for execution. This piece will highlight some basic considerations that will enhance innovation and could be a guiding principle to ensure you think through your media-innovative ideas to deliver optimal results:


  1. Impact is key: There are thousands of spot ads running on TV and radio every day and across multiple channels; the consumers sees clutter outdoor as they move through the cities; online is not left out with an array of ads and ad-blocking on the rise. Your media innovation must create impact and be able to attract the consumer to see, engage and act. On top of impact, brands should consider leveraging technology as it is an enabler to innovation – and it is highly recommended as it is scalable.
See Also:  ‘PRESS FOR PROGRESS’...framing our future


  1. Strong Partnerships Enhance our value offering: A lot of brands live as solos. Media innovation can be further enhanced with strong collaboration and partnership. Imagine an e-commerce brand promoting Black Friday and a tech brand doing the same. There is likely going to be a stronger and more optimised campaign proposition that will attract the consumer if there is a collaborative campaign between both brands. In the same vein, imagine a joint campaign between a whisky brand and a fashion and style brand etc. In this part of the world, there is a need for brands to drive partnership and collaboration in media to give creative value and disruption for the consumer.


  1. Be Contextually Relevant: Being contextually relevant is a key approach to enhancing innovation in media. Imagine a placement on the wall of an underground train station that reads ‘You are 100ft underground, why not work 40,000ft above?’ This is a very creative and contextual placement for Emirates’ vacancy ad for Cabin Crews. It ended with ‘Cabin crew required. An extraordinary job for extraordinary people’. In our world today, there are a lot of twinovellas that command high viewership, how do you place your ads on Twinovella versus news platforms? How do you leverage content integration to enhance our messaging? How do you leverage native ads etc.?


  1. Consumer Insight is Key: Consumer insight is very key to driving innovation and disruption. A practical example is that of #sharethesofa. This is A Champions League show designed by Heineken – the first ever real-time show designed for the second screen. The insight is that 76% of Champions League viewers watch on their own – and most of them are watching with a second screen. Hence, #sharethesofa show was created to drive engagement during the Champions League matches.


Results were amazing: The show was talked about in over 94 countries, hundreds of sharable reactions to the game over 90 minutes, over one billion media impressions; it reached 13.4 million twitter handles every game, the brand dominated Champions League conversations on twitter – and it also sold beer. If your brand is part of a sponsorship, how do you differentiate the brand with your innovation to create a major differentiation for impact? Deeper and genuine insight when properly harnessed will deliver media innovation and will generate results.


  1. Ensure your idea is best-placed to deliver ROI: The era of doing great innovation for ‘nice to have’ is over. Consider your innovation in the context of ROI. Media innovation should be considered with business results and objectives in mind. Why activate a media innovation if it cannot achieve the objective of the campaign it is meant to deliver? This is one of the key variables that will enhance the trust between the business and media team recommendations.
See Also:  Saving the Banks – understanding the GAT inherent risk structure 


It is very easy to state the above key considerations, but unfortunately media innovation is still far from reality in most markets for most brands. Here are some of the reasons why; and we need to ensure, as brand custodians, that these barriers are not currently stopping us from innovating in media:


  1. Brand Team does not believe an idea will work or my agency does not present innovation: This is one of the key barriers, but my recommendation is that the brand team and the agency need to set a very clear KPI for innovation and evaluation – done monthly or quarterly to enhance the culture of innovation and disruptive advertising.


  1. No Funds – Advertising and Promotions budget (A&P) cannot accommodate it: Great media innovations and disruption are driven by insight and doesn’t have to be expensive. They need to be realistic. This is an excuse a lot of brand custodians give for not being innovative. Brands that have imbibed the culture of innovation will always find a way because of the value offering it delivers. Hence, in every media plan, task the team to show that is being done differently. My recommendation is that you consider 10% of A&P to drive media innovation, and over time you will see the impact when properly harnessed.


  1. I have never seen it happen: This is the most embarrassing barrier to innovation; when the team feels it has never happened and is not sure it will work. A well thought-out media innovation works in most cases, but this piece is primarily set out to drive an innovative culture. The recommendation in this case is for the team to leverage simple data to verify at each stage of the process. You can be sure that your brand will be on its way to creating an innovative approach that will enhance media disruption.


The media landscape is constantly evolving, the same as the consumer. It is very likely that brands which fail to use media and engage the consumer in a creative and disruptive manner consistently are likely to get lost in the clutter over a period, and this may have a long-term damaging effect on brand recall.



Stephen Onaivi is the Managing Director of mediaReachOMD Ghana, a leading media agency responsible for media strategy, planning and buying for Multinational and Local clients. Comments, suggestions, contributions and requests should be sent to

Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments