Media planning too must be sustainable

Staudinger Mediaplaning

Why Mediaplaning too Must Be Sustainable

How sustainable are the media we use for advertising? Why are decision-makers in the media not yet using sustainability criteria when it comes to investing their advertising budgets? What might such criteria look like? And where is the subject of sustainable media planning on the media decision-makers’ agenda? This year, the Fridays For Future movement and the Black Lives Matter debate have fuelled the topic of “purpose” even more. The pressure for sustainable corporate governance is increasing. So, it has now become urgent to look into these issues and make media planning more sustainable too.


A wide range of opinions shows that the issue of where they invest their advertising money has now become very important for media decision-makers as well. However, companies sometimes establish extremely different priorities – there are many sides to the concept of “sustainability”, offering a wide range of possible interpretations.


How important is sustainable media for consumers and decision-makers?


In order to assess the current mood in the population and in the market, we conducted a survey of two thousand German consumers, which produced very clear results. More than half of the respondents think it is good when companies invest their advertising money in media and platforms that make a sustainable contribution to society. Around two thirds are of the opinion that hate speech, racism and sexism justify an advertising boycott of media and platforms. Consumers are thus expressing their clear expectation of companies: invest your advertising money in media and platforms that make a positive contribution to the development of our society.


Conversely, what do the media and marketing decision-makers think about the situation? We surveyed 160 German experts with advertising budgets to invest. The result was very surprising: 88% of the media decision-makers said that sustainability is an important subject within their company, and 82% are convinced that companies can change society over the long term using their advertising budget. For the majority (63%), the sustainability of advertising media plays a decisive role. Among all decision-makers, 84% even want more boycotts of unsustainable media. Both in the survey and in an active discussion with the decision-makers, however, it became clear that only a very few had already engaged in an advertising boycott themselves.


Why is that? Companies often don’t know exactly where to start. This is also because, when it comes to sustainable media planning, the situation within companies is very mixed. While some companies are already in the middle of the debate, others are still, relatively speaking, at the start. And when it comes to sustainability, companies emphasize different areas. While one company is focusing on ecology, others are discussing sustainable economic activity, diversity or gender equality.


What can agencies do?


Agencies such as ours can and should advise and provide assistance in sustainable media planning. The aim is to find objective criteria for the different forms of sustainability (ecology, economy, society) by which media and platforms can be assessed. The decision-makers we have spoken to thus far agreed: such a list of guidelines would be a great help and an important step in the right direction. Therefore, our next step will be to meet advertisers in a workshop setting, in order to develop an initial list of criteria together through an in-depth discussion.


In our choice of media, too, we should set an example of socially correct behaviour. The standards that we adhere to should also apply to media companies. We trust that they too feel a sense of social responsibility


Martina Staudinger, Managing Director mediascale

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