The Future of Planning is RUBBISH

Gravity Road's head of global planning on how to revamp the planning approach

By Michael Florence

Do I have your attention? Great, because the future of planning is attention, not rubbish.

The timeless principles guiding growth remain solid in our modern landscape. Employing creativity to captivate audiences, leveraging their attention to instigate shifts in attitude and behaviour, and using those changes to fuel commercial energy are as vital today as ever.

Despite these enduring principles, everything surrounding the strategies to implement them has evolved. To be clear, the future of how we plan for attention and find new ways to attract it will radically alter.

As with any change, we find ourselves in the midst of one of the most exhilarating eras in advertising, with technology opening up new avenues for attention. Be it large-scale Vegas spheres or AI-driven sophisticated mass marketing through the rapid creation of multiple executions with built-in predictive analysis.

Change brings endless opportunities, learning, and a chance to revamp the planning approach.

Let’s explore the future opportunities in front of us today, helping to create work that works.

It all starts with the brief, and we often crave better ones. Quality in equals quality out, right? Let’s stop asking and start using apps like This kind of tech can alleviate the challenge when objectives haven't been written down before kick-off.

For fresher and faster insight, apps like Latent Explorer within Pencil Pro, The BrandTech Group's generative AI SaaS platform for brands, provide an aesthetic audit, allowing planners to understand a brand’s visual culture, highlighting the sea of sameness and white space in seconds.

Then there’s TikTok. It's not just a global platform for creativity, humour, and trends in 15-second bursts of pure entertainment; it’s a billion-person focus group.

Just look at #CleanTok with over 78 billion views to date (yes, billions). This community turned the mundane category of cleaning into one of the most loved genres on TikTok - making it an insight and product usage feast. Unilever Home Care is no stranger to the cultural and commercial energy surrounding this content. Their licensing of #CleanTok™ has made the social platform one of Unilever’s shiniest shopping aisles.

Getting attention authentically means trying new things and understanding how to fit in with different platforms without looking out of place. This brings me to future planning approaches. The big one I like right now is 'community is the new consumer.' We’re taught to think about the consumer first, but we should now be thinking about the community—a simple but radical shift in the mindset of planning, development, and execution.

And finally, there’s better measurement. In the future let’s raise the bar. For instance, we are measuring attention in seconds. A good start, but through the merging of real, virtual, and social worlds, we should be striving to plan for attentive minutes and hours, not just seconds.

Embrace the extraordinary. We're on the edge of forward-looking planning, no more looking backward. In fact, in a few years, I expect planners will say, “Wow, this makes some of the old ways look a bit rubbish!”

Mike Florence is the global head of planning at Gravity Road


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