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Cultural peculiarities and media planning

Monday 6th March

In a world where the use of data is growing immensely, where artificial intelligence media agencies are rapidly advancing and buzzwords such as ‘Big Data’ follow us everywhere in our daily (work) life, it is worth pausing for a moment to remember that all our media plans are being created to reach real PEOPLE not data profiles.

Working in the international team at Total Media and being a foreigner myself, I know how important it is to look beyond data sets in order to deliver successful media campaigns. There are many cultural differences, of which some are less obvious than others, but the most important thing is to be aware of these peculiarities and to dive deep into the local markets when creating country-specific media plans.

If we, for example, take a look at the whole discussion surrounding data protection and security across Europe, you might know that Germany is more concerned about these topics than the UK. A near-total ban on CCTV in public areas in Germany is just one example that shows the sensitivity for this subject both on the governmental and private level. Being aware of these cultural and behavioural characteristics is the first step to delivering more thoughtful and efficient media plans. Understanding the reasons, scope and significance of it is what makes the difference.


In order to be able to understand the concerns about personal data in Germany, we have to go back to World War II and the following decades of Stasi control in East Germany. The Ministry for State Security (Stasi) systematically spied on the German population for a period of nearly forty years and is often described as the most repressive intelligence agency that has ever existed. Despite the fact that the majority of millennials and younger generations did not actively experience the pressure of being under surveillance 24/7 it has surely shaped the culture and perception of Germany as a nation. Not knowing how their personal data is collected and used by companies such as Facebook, Amazon and Google is a serious concern for Germans. This is surely also one of the reasons why programmatic buying has moved on at a slower place in Germany compared to countries such as the UK and France.

From my own personal experience I know that there is a good amount of people in Germany that chose to not engage with a website or decide not to use messaging apps such as WhatsApp due to privacy concerns. Although the great majority of internet users might not be that strict, it shows that international media planning and buying goes way beyond rate negotiations and target audience analysis.

Article Written by

Kathrin Weiler

International Account Handler, Total Media

Kathrin is a native German working in the international Client Services Team. She is a passionate basketball player, travel enthusiast and her childhood hero is Pippi Longstocking.

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