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“Behavioural Planning”: Lucrative Gimic or Effective System?

Tuesday 14th August

“At Total Media we plan around people’s behaviours; how they think, feel and act, not just their demographics.”

It’s a claim made by many, but performed by few. After nearly two years at Total Media this is a good chance for me to explain, briefly, what behavioural planning is and how we at Total Media have applied this philosophy in practice.

A good place to start is with Richard Thaler and Daniel Kahneman, both winners of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for championing what is known as ‘Behavioural Economics’ (or nudge theory to some). They have done a lot of scientific research on why people are often irrational and susceptible to social pressures.

Many people and organisations over the last 20 years have started making use of his research and implementing the principles in commercial and governmental strategies. Total Media  have taken on this research in order to plan and deliver high quality media campaigns, through ‘behavioural planning’. But what does that mean in practice?

A way to start behavioural planning, would be to familiarise yourself with behavioural concepts and insights. Try keeping abreast of what bigger and better resourced organisations have published on the topic, for example the Behavioural Insights Team publishes their findings and updates regularly.  So whenever a client or colleague sends a brief or requests reports, identifying opportunities to exploit these behaviours is easier.

The next important point is that behavioural planning should not be restricted to just planners or strategists. Diverse opinions from people with varying knowledge and expertise will lead to unique ideas. WARC outlines the research surrounding this topic, but the main point is involving the whole team when creating ideas/plans!

Finally, the most important part of behavioural planning is creating a ‘test and learn’ process for each campaign. Every campaign will differ based on clients and business objectives; but each has potential to use this approach. Take an idea/concept/insight; identify the measurable KPIs, then set an expected goal within a certain time-frame. Obviously this one-sentence description is vague, a practical example of this would be A/B split testing creative messages. More detailed examples are easily found.

An example of this process from Total Media is FilmStruck. We have the behavioural planning awards at Total Media, to encourage teams to continue following the philosophy of the agency.
For FilmStruck they established three quantifiable KPIs (# of subscribers, trialists, and cost per trialists), with a set date to achieve them.
They outlined motivations people have for watching films and subscribing to video streaming services. The whole FilmStruck team were drawing insights from Fogg’s Behaviour Model, Ofcom data, and bespoke survey research.
Then from the results they created multiple audiences and corresponding strategies for their social media and programmatic activity. Allowing them to test them all simultaneously and optimise their media spend accordingly.

Finally, after testing and optimising their activity they found the best performing audience/strategy: retargeting the audience “Armchair Culturalists”. Overall the cost per trialist was high, but cost per landing page visit was very low. People were keen to learn more, but apprehensive about ‘buying-in’. So the main objective was not met, but in subsequent campaigns offline cinema/print activity was launched simultaneously to build brand credibility (appealing to “armchair enthusiasts”). Also, they developed optimisations for landing page’s and apps to improve the customer journey to conversion. These improvements were simpler to recognise and implement, because they had followed this test-learn process.

So overall I hope this blog post has highlighted the main structure of how behavioural planning is actioned.

Article Written by

Connor Wright

International Media Assistant, Total Media

Currently in the international client services team, working on the Lenovo/Slack/Lebara accounts.

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