Concept Ideation, Design for SaaS, User Research, System Design
UX/UI Designer, UX Researcher
I self-initiated this project as I was wrapping up my first job after college as a digital media planner for the Disney & 20th Century Studios. Handling RFPs for multiple campaigns including Mulan (2020), Free Guy (2021) and many more made me notice the inefficiencies lying in the RFP process and gave me an urge to create a web-based platform to streamline the fragmented steps. The final product incorporated perspectives of many other media planners, addressing pain points they have experienced during RFPs.
The traditional RFP process within the media industry has historically been overly complicated and time costly. There needs to be a revamped process to reduce repetitive steps and increase efficiency.
Through systemic thinking, research, and user interviews, I ideated and designed a centralized, web-based one-stop shop to streamline the RFP process for media professionals so they can efficiently evaluate, negotiate, and plan campaign elements.
Through primary and secondary research, I discovered three main reasons for RFP being a challenge during media planning stages if the issues go unaddressed.
According to Bionic, it takes 38 hours across 4 job functions to conduct the RFP process. For media agencies, it usually costs more than $3,018 per campaign in labor to perform the RFP process.
RFP is usually the first step of starting a new campaign, so it has an impact on all later stages including publisher negotiations, actual campaign planning, and even as a reference for future campaigns.
On average, media planners send out 50+ RFPs and need to manage mass communication - streamlining this step reduces stress and fatigue for them.
In order to decide on the scope & potential functionalities of the platform, I decided to analyze the RFP workflow, interview my colleagues for various perspectives, and brainstorming features that could hopefully solve some of our key pain points.
Summarizing the entire RFP process, find steps that require the most back and forth that could be simplified
Interviewing colleagues as well as friends who also work in the industry but do not work at the same agency as me
Brainstorming functions and capabilities to resolve pain points and to address the problem statement
The first step I took was to dissect the RFP workflow into individual steps using pen and paper. Then I used journey map to summarize the general interaction between media planners and publishers. I found out that media planners spend the most time comparing efficiency, negotiating rates and package elements, and asking questions to publishers through emails.
By interviewing five media planners across show entertainment, CPG, and gaming industries, I was able to get a grip of their points of friction during the RFP process.
I then synthesized my interview findings into the summary below to help me better define the scope and potential features of the product.
Based on my research findings, I found out that most points of friction media planners experience are actually caused by the format that they send out and receive back proposals — emails. Because of that nature, reviewing proposals requires additional steps, including opening up excel sheets and powerpoints, and sometimes even reading important details that are buried in publishers' lengthy emails.
The solution I came up with embodies the below functionalities:
Instead of RFPing through emails, it will be a centralized, web-based platform
Mocks and creative details will be one-click away from the placements - no need to open multiple attachments
Past plan rates and historical placement performances will be stored on the platform for easy comparison
The platform will automate the recommendation building process by having the media planners check the box for the recommended placements
I started off the design process with some rough sketches for the key pages of the platform. With some iterations and re-evaluation of my design decisions, I proceeded with low-fidelity wireframes to help me better visualize the dashboard.
As I was sketching out some key screens, ideas such as creating a tab for supervisors/directors to leave feedback on recommended plans popped into my head. However, I decided to focus on designing the key features instead of turning AutoRFP into an all-in-one media planning platform due to time constraint and priorities.
The final dashboard prototype addresses the key pain points media planners encounter during the RFP stages. Through this web-based, centralized platform instead of utilizing emails to send and receive RFPs, handling proposals is much more efficient and accurate, maintaining key business goals for media agencies and their clients.
With AutoRFP, the RFP process will be much more simple, efficient, and accurate. The tool will help media planners evaluate efficiencies and historical performances among publishers, let them view placements in the actual site environment with the “View Placement Mock” function, and lastly, use one-click import to compile the recommendation plan.