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Is ChatGPT the Future of Media Planning?

August 2023

Is ChatGPT the Future of Media Planning?

Will AI Replace Strategic Media Planners? 3 Questions We Asked ChatGPT to Find Out

The world of paid media planning is always changing, so we, as strategists, are constantly on the move. I lovingly call Paid Media “a discipline of science” as we’re continuously analyzing and testing – new channels, new ways of measuring attribution, new AI marketing integrations and so on. It feels like we’re surfing and we must ride the wave of progress, or wipe out and fall behind. Cowabunga!   

There are many ways to keep up with emerging media trends and I wish I could say I heard of ChatGPT from an esteemed source. Instead, it was from a digital advertising meme account. The meme featured Ben Affleck working the Dunkin drive-thru with this caption: “Advertisers in the near future when ChatGPT is used to replace them.” With that, I was in exploration mode.  

Spoiler alert: the ad team doesn’t need to dust off their resumes but instead learn to utilize our new analytical partner by integrating the strengths from ChatGPT’s delivery.

What is ChatGPT and how does it function? 

ChatGPT is an AI-powered chatbot that responds to questions with thoughtful answers positioned to educate the inquirer. Inquiry results feel conversational as if you’d asked the subject matter expert your question over coffee.   

ChatGPT is still a developing technology, and, like most, there are associated strengths and weaknesses. ChatGPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) was launched by research company OpenAI in November 2022 and is free to use. I won’t go into all the details specific to the technology here, but instead review the takeaway from running the technology through an exercise in building out a paid media plan.  

My goal was to test ChatGPT’s ability to build advertising strategy for a client looking to increase business in the banking industry. My first realization was that to use ChatGPT effectively, you need to know what questions to ask and how to structure them, especially for this exercise.  

Our clients come to us because they know they want to grow their business but lean on our expertise for the input and data points needed to formulate the strategy. We know which questions to ask, and success stands on our discovery process.  

Here’s how I guided ChatGPT with keywords to generate the strategy:

Question: “Where should I place ad spend to reach decision makers in the banking industry?”

ChatGPT Response: There are several ways to place ad spend to reach decision makers in the banking industry. Here are a few suggestions: 

  1. Trade publications: Advertise in trade publications that target the banking industry, such as American Banker or Banking Tech. 
  2. Digital advertising: Use digital advertising platforms such as Google Ads or LinkedIn to target decision makers in the banking industry with display ads, sponsored content, or sponsored email campaigns. 
  3. Conferences and events: Attend or sponsor conferences and events that are relevant to the banking industry, such as Finovate or the ABA Annual Convention.
  4. Referral marketing: Leverage referral marketing by asking satisfied customers to refer your company to decision makers in the banking industry.
  5. Influencer marketing: Identify and reach out to industry thought leaders or influencers who can reach decision makers in the banking industry on your behalf. 

It is important to keep in mind that reaching decision makers in the banking industry may require a multi-channel approach and a combination of the above methods may be the best way to achieve your goal.  

The ChatGPT result provides an integrated marketing response to accomplish the goal. You can see a combination of online and offline tactics that stretch outside of traditional ad placements to events, referral and influencer marketing. The answer lists industry or platform specific examples on how to make these recommendations come to life such as “Banking Tech” or “AVA Annual Convention”. The result also sets expectations that our goal will best be achieved through a multi-channel approach.  

Okay, I was impressed but not done yet. We have seen incredible success with our B2B audiences through LinkedIn and email campaigns, but for high performance via Google Ads, a brand’s foundation must be established. ChatGPT’s digital recommendation proposes a quality v. quantity analysis, a commonly run paid media test. The agency can overlay historic performance data and test frameworks to enhance the strategy.  

I dug further with the burning question every CMO is waiting to ask:  

Question: Which of those options is the most cost–efficient?

ChatGPT Response: The cost-efficiency of the different options for placing ad spend to reach decision makers in the banking industry will depend on various factors, such as the specific target audience, the ad format, and the budget. However, in general, some options may be considered more cost-efficient than others: 

  1. Referral marketing: This is often considered one of the most cost-efficient methods of reaching decision makers, as it relies on satisfied customers to refer your company, which can be done at little or no cost. 
  2. Influencer marketing: Identifying and reaching out to industry thought leaders or influencers can be cost-efficient as well, as it allows you to leverage their reputation and reach to target decision makers in the banking industry. 
  3. Trade publications: Advertise in trade publications can be cost-efficient as well, as it allows you to target a specific audience with a higher likelihood of conversion. 
  4. Digital advertising: Digital advertising can be cost-efficient as well, as it allows you to target specific segments of the banking industry, and with a well-defined budget you can reach a specific number of people. 
  5. Conferences and events: Sponsoring or attending conferences and events can be more expensive than other options, as it requires a significant investment in terms of time and money. 

It is important to note that cost efficiency is not the only factor to consider when placing ad spend to reach decision makers in the banking industry, it should be balanced with the effectiveness of the method and the return of investment. 

Alright, ChatGPT, I see you! The response provides clarity around cost-effectiveness but without actual data input. Here again, we see the importance of the discovery process and how it influences your marketing plan. The more data you have, the more prescriptive you can be in formulating your strategy.  

As an agency, we can forecast actual cost per goal framework allowing the prioritization of efficiency from discovery process inputs. We also work with clients to determine how success should be measured. Cost is one factor but, as ChatGPT mentions, it’s not the only framework we should be looking at. One channel’s performance may cost more but is more effective at goal completion. We also look at volume of goal completions and rate of goal completions in addition to cost.  

I was beginning to carve out the swim lanes between the agency team and our new AI friend but went in for the kill. Could ChatGPT give me a real data input if I asked for it specifically?  

Question: How much money should I spend?

ChatGPT Response: The amount of money you should spend on a Google Ads campaign targeting decision makers in the banking industry will depend on several factors such as the size of your target audience, the competition, the cost per click, and your business goals. 

However, generally speaking, you should set a budget that is realistic and allows you to test the waters, measure the results and adjust the strategy. A good starting point could be between $500 and $1000 per month. With that budget you will be able to test the effectiveness of your campaign and optimize it accordingly. 

It is important to note that a higher budget does not always translate into better results. It’s important to focus on creating a highly targeted and effective campaign rather than increasing your budget. Also, you should track your campaign’s performance closely, and adjust your budget according to the results you’re getting. If your campaign is performing well, you may want to consider increasing your budget to reach more decision makers in the banking industry. 

It is recommended to work with a professional agency or professional with experience in the industry, they can give you a better insight on the average cost per click and the budget that is needed to reach your goals. 

 Ah, ChatGPT, thank you so much for the referral! ChatGPT is self-aware of its swim lane, navigating back to us at the agency level to establish a holistic ROI by reviewing multiple inputs to generate a tailored budget recommendation with an ability to scale efforts. Overall, ChatGPT does an excellent job of ensuring that you are factoring in all considerations throughout building your ad strategy.  

ChatGPT can outline the framework for paid media decisions but cannot evolve the strategy based on specific input. This level of expertise is still held by agency media strategists.  

So while we won’t be replaced by ChatGPT anytime soon, this exercise did shine a light on how AI can be leveraged in strategy development. AI reminds us how important the process of identifying impactful data inputs, data collection and analysis is in formulating a custom strategy for our clients and their goals.  

ChatGPT specifically reminds us to continue ensuring the recommendations we provided are actionable, that we are providing tangible examples along with our recommendations, and that we should avoid planning in silos. After that, it’s just a matter of considerate utilization. So although I appreciate our AI friend’s insights when I need a quick gut check, I won’t ask it to present media strategy to our clients anytime soon.  

Media Planning & Strategic Marketing 

If you’re ready to start or evolve your paid media strategy, Jackson Spalding is here to help. Contact us to discuss a tailored plan to help meet your organization’s goals. (We promise it’ll be developed by thoughtful, experienced humans who can connect the dots where AI can’t.)