Media Planning Tools: An In Depth Analysis of MediaOcean and 4 Top Alternatives
Tools like MediaOcean are an industry favorite for media planningand execution. As you develop complex marketing plans, these platforms save you time and ensure your clients easily understand and accept your proposals.
Most of the existing roundups of media planning softwareare basic lists, product pages, or review sites. In this article, we're going to take a different approach and do a deep dive into the top choices in the market.
We'll compare their core features, use cases, strengths and weaknesses, and discuss who they are best suited for. For brands, agencies, and media companies who use media planning tools, this article will help you see opportunities to more easily scale your business with complementary planning tools.
In closing, we'll share how companies who use media planning tools, like the ones listed below, have been benefiting from using TapClicks to integrate their media planningwith the rest of their marketing operations.
Want to connect your media planningwith the rest of your marketing operations? TapClicks can integrate with any of the following tools to manage performance, analytics, and reporting all in one place. Try our 14 day Free trial.
MediaOcean: A Classic Media BuyingTool for Digital Marketing Agencies
Core Features: A Wide Range of Coverage for Media Agencies
MediaOceanis the tried and true option in the media planningspace.Their range of services reflects the time they have spent supporting agencies in this niche, and they include all the basics for rolling out media strategy, including media planning, media buying, plan development, budget allocations, presentation ready proposals, media plan approval through a client portal, and some billing.
Use Case: Making It Easy to Develop Proposals for Multiple Different Media Channels
MediaOcean has a time tested use case for developing a proposal for multiple media channelsand media types, and in some cases executing that plan. This means when you're developing rich marketing plans and buying ads for your brand or clients across multiple platforms, MediaOcean is there to support you.
Even the MediaOcean billing system is designed for the way large brands and agencies buy media on different advertising platforms. This means if you're selling advertising on behalf of another party, their services are geared to you.
After Years on The Market They've Consolidated Many Features in One Place
MediaOcean has been around quite a while and this has given them time to develop and integrate a long list of features into their platform. One that shines in particular is their sophisticated method for inventory checks, marketplace, and evaluating inventory.
Built for Agencies to Use as a Tool for Creatives
MediaOcean was developed with the creative media agencyin mind and it shows in their features. They make it easy to modify and proof creative assets, and offer tools to refine content and move it through the review and approval process.
Slightly Less Modern UI
Having been in business for over a decade, MediaOcean's UI is a bit less modern than some of the other options. While this doesn't change their functionality, it does impact the ease of use for you and your clients.
Limited Integrations for Connecting to Other Systems
The number of connections MediaOcean has is lower than some of the other media platforms. While there are some programmatic integrations for planning purposes, the ability to integrate and interconnect with other systems is limited and can be difficult to work with.
Limited Reporting and Analytics
With fewer connectors, your ability to communicate your value and monitor campaigns through MediaOcean is limited.
Who MediaOcean Is Best For
Their platform is best suited for their target audience: ad agencies with a strong creative focus. The way the platform is organized makes sense for an agency dynamic and the tasks they handle day to day, and in this sense there is no one else in the market quite like them.
Mediatool: Big Brands Go-To Tool for Managing Multiple Regional Agencies
Core Features: A Spreadsheet-Based User Experience That Many Brand Managers Prefer
Mediatooloffers planning, visualization, flowcharts, and strategy tools using a spreadsheet-based interface. They're known for delighting brand managers with this spreadsheet functionality, so marketers who learned the ropes using Excel to manage their data (but need to reduce human error and labor intensive number crunching)feel right at home in Mediatool.
Use Case: Helping Brands Manage Spend Across Multiple Agencies
Mediatool is favored by large brands, such as Coca Cola, who need to buy media through multiple agencies. When your brand needs to manage multiple agency relationships to place and coordinate cross agency buys, Mediatool helps you make sure these agencies are in alignment across multiple regions and that all programs are performing well.
This media planner is helpful for brands who want to see performance at a high level, and with a little manpower you can use those insights to allocate budget across those regions. They have a specific use case to big brands who want to coordinate their buying process with multiple agencies.
It Uses Familiar Spreadsheet-Style Data Management
It may not be the easiest method, or the prettiest, but when you've spent decades as a brand manager managing data and campaigns in a spreadsheet you know how helpful it can be to manage data with that level of detail in a format you're used to. For those who feel most at home in a spreadsheet for managing campaigns, Mediatool has you covered.
Data Management is on the Manual Side
While Mediatool can help a brand reallocate money across agencies, it's a manual process to track and move spend and a challenge to track things in real-time.
For a marketer in a time crunch, or those looking to scale, integrating Mediatool with a platform like TapClicks, which systematically pulls your data into one place, can be a huge advantage for your analytics workflow (more on this below).
Who Mediatool is Best for
Mediatool's target market is big brands.When you have multiple agencies to manage, and need to allocate budget across multiple regions in an informed way, Mediatool is built to help you accomplish this.
Salesforce: The CRM Standard with Bolt on Tools That Expand Their Reach Into Media Planning
Core Features: When Your Sales Team Is Already Using It, Bolt On Tools Feel Easy
Salesforce is a well known CRM tool, but they've entered the digital media niche with a marketplace full of tools that add project management functionality, as well as media planning and configure price quote (CPQ) solutions. You get seamless integration with your sales team, plus an agile platform that lets you create in-house use cases with their Apex programming language.
Use Case: Refining an Existing In-House Platform with Apex Programming
Larger media companies are a case study in unique needs, and when your sales team is already paying for a license and using Salesforce it can seem like an easy fit to refine the platform further to your specific needs.
It takes skill, and often a big upfront monetary investment, but for media companies with a need for flexibility, the platform allows them to customize for their unique media mix and digital advertising needs.
It's Familiar and Flexible
With a large install base, many people use Salesforce they know it, and they like it. It's likely when you onboard a new sales team member that they will already be well versed in Salesforce.
With the marketplace, the platform is flexible and includes many embedded entities for orders and workflow right out of the box. With Apex, you have the tools to program it however you want.If you have the skills, you can build it.
It's Pay to Play, So Covering All Your Digital ChannelsAdds Up
Their bolt on tools and programming updates will cost you, and this can get expensive fast. Even if your sales team already has a license, to truly take advantage of the agility of the platform and the Apex programming language, expect to invest heavily not only in Salesforce but in the talent needed to build your customizations.
Reporting is Still Coming Together After Acquiring Datorama and Tableau
To fill the gap in their platform for reporting and analytics, Salesforce has acquired Datorama and Tableau. They are being integrated into the Salesforce umbrella as a marketing analytics, reporting, and business intelligence tool that comes with the platform, but the use case has not been well refined yet.
Note: Learn more about how these platforms match up to TapClicks in our article on Datorama alternatives.
In theory, you get access until they refine how they work together, but you should expect to invest time and money into consulting fees to make it work seamlessly. While the future is bright once the tools are fully integrated, if you're hoping to add reporting to your planning process, you may need to bring in other tools for now.
Who Salesforce Is Best for
The Apex programming language makes Salesforce very appealing to large media companies who like the level of flexibility that comes with being able to program their own tools and use cases into the platform they use.
WideOrbit: The Trafficking Program for Radio and Broadcast
Core Features: Built for Broadcasters with Features That Reflect That Commitment
WideOrbit's features show their long time commitment to serving broadcasters. Their billing system is set up for radio ad buys and seamlessly handles traffic, scheduling, and other preparation for radio ads to ensure you easily get paid after a spot runs. They also help larger media companies handle this at scale for their many radio stations.
Use Case: Helping Radio Broadcasters Go Digital
Most broadcasters have entered digital media as the landscape of advertising changes. In response, WideOrbit launched a digital platform to support this shift. They're especially focused on supporting billing and helping broadcasters manage cash flow from their advertising efforts.
They're Commonly Used By Broadcasters and This Makes for Simplified Invoicing
WideOrbit is familiar to the average broadcaster and has provided billing services for a long time, so most broadcast media companies have billed their customers using WideOrbit for many years and for all verticals of their business. This means your clients get one invoice for all advertising platforms where you run ads for them, plus they include financial reconciliation tools.
Limited in Reporting and Analytics
WideOrbit is often sold as a unified platform, but in reality their reporting and analytics leave much room for improvement. This is another tool where using it alongside TapClicks can be a great match to supplement reporting and better showcase the ROI earned from the ads you run.
Haven't Yet Entered the Workflow Space
WideOrbit doesn't currently offer project management functionality to get a digital ad served. When looking to automate orders, workflow, analytics, and reporting for your clients, you'll need to bring in a heavier lifting tool.
Integrations Are Limited
Because WideOrbit runs on server based rather than cloud based technology, there are less options to integrate with the other platforms you use. We're actively working on integrations with WideOrbit in the broadcast media niche to help fill this gap.
Who WideOrbit Is Best for
WideOrbit is made for radio and broadcasting, and their traffic program is in use by many, if not most, radio stations.
AdBook+ by FatTail: Sales Focused Proposal Generation Tool for Media Companies
Core Features: Media Planner for Building Proposals and Managing Orders
AdBook+was built to help media companies with planning, building proposals, and managing orders. There is some buying functionality baked into the tool, but it's not a major focus. The integrations for inventory are a main feature and their primary goal is simplifying revenue management.
Use Case: Sales Focused Proposal Tool for Big Broadcast Companies
AdBook+ has a strong focus on generating proposals that will help you sell more ads to your clients. Like MediaOcean, they help you develop a media plan with your budgets spread across multiple advertising platformsincluding traditional and digital media.
It Does What It Says It Will Do, Easily
AdBook+ works you won't find yourself slowed down with bugs or complexities. On the media planningside, it can distribute budgets well across your entire media mix, which makes for easier revenue management. The proposals you create with AdBook+ are nice, and it integrates with Salesforce and other CRM tools. It's not a deep, rich platform full of features, but it does what it does quite well.
Limited Flexibility Outside of Its Core Functions
AdBook+ works great with the products it already supports but if you want reporting and analytics to link to other platforms, it's slightly less flexible. For this, AdBook+ has partnered with TapClicks to expand the reach of the platform with integrations, reporting, and analytics.
Who AdBook+ Is Best for
AdBook+ is best for media companies, and is a legacy platform for managing orders well so you can keep customers happy and squeeze every dollar from your valuable inventory of ad slots, while keeping transaction costs low.
How TapClicks Pairs with These Platforms to Centralize Operations and Make Digital Marketing Easier
Strengthening Your Reporting and Analytics Power
If you're using Mediatool, WideOrbit, or AdBook+, our reporting and analytics pairs nicely to support these platforms where they lack in native reporting tools. In tandem, proving the value of your ad buys and marketing campaigns becomes easy. If you're serious about analytics and want to automate your reporting process, TapClicks is a great option for you.
If you're using MediaOcean or Salesforce, while they do have native reporting and analytics functionality, the depth and breadth of our analytics functions and channel integrations can still be a complement to these platforms.
Automating Orders and Workflow
Not including MediaOcean, if you're using any of the other tools listed here today, TapClicks allows you to easily automate the kickoff and management of campaigns through orders and workflow from the moment the sale closes, until it's time to report your results.
For media planning, MediaOcean has long been a favorite, but if you want to manage your operations in a more scalable, efficient, unified way, it may be time to check out how MediaOcean can be complemented with TapClicks.
TapClicks can integrate with any of the tools covered here to manage performance, analytics, and reporting all in one place. Try our 14 day Free trial.