Leave Media Planning to the Professionals

by Cassandra Moffitt on

Media planning is the process of determining which media to use and what type of advertisement spots to buy to either support your company’s overall marketing strategy or a specific marketing campaign. The process involves devising a strategy, negotiating and purchasing, while taking into consideration what is being advertised, who the target demographic is, and what the campaign goals are. Due to its importance to the success of a campaign, the relationships needed, the complexity of the terminology and the reports, and the level of previous experience needed to do it correctly, we highly recommend that you partner with a knowledgeable and experienced marketing agency for your media planning.

Advertising Agency vs Marketing Agency
It’s a question we hear often: what’s the difference between an advertising agency and a marketing agency? Media planning is one of the key areas where an advertising and marketing agency differ. Advertising agencies work with media publications, such as radio, tv and newspapers, to purchase bulk groupings of available ad space at a significantly discounted rate and then turn around and attempt to sell that space at a mark-up to their own clients. This type of approach naturally results in trying to offload lower quality advertising spots on unsuspecting clients, or pushing spots that are not appropriate for that specific client’s needs.

On the other hand, a marketing agency approaches advertising buys through a carefully thought out media plan. Although the cost of the actual buys may be a little more expensive than going through an advertising agency, by using a marketing agency you are guaranteed to purchase spots that will align with your marketing strategy, reach your target demographics, and provide an overall better return on the investment.

Developing a Media Plan
The first step in developing a media plan is a careful review of your marketing strategy and an evaluation of your industry, the consumer market, and the state of each individual marketing platform. Through this analysis, we will be able to better understand what framework the marketing campaign will be working in, and what outlets may be more or less effective. For example, if the marketing campaign will happen during an election year, running a radio ad on a news station may reach further than during similar times in non-election years. At the end of this step, we will have a good understanding of what the specific objectives of the campaign are, who the demographics for the campaign will be, and what outside influencing factors may play a role in what media is used for advertising.

The second step is to determine to what extent the target audience must be exposed to the campaign message in order to reach the objectives of the campaign. We determine what reach (the number of different persons or households exposed to the campaign), frequency (number of times within a time period that the target demographic is exposed to the campaign) and continuity (how the campaign is spread out over the time period) will be needed for each component of the campaign in order to reach the objectives.

The third and most intensive step is devising and implementing the actual media strategy. During this step, we make three important decisions: what media mix to use (television, radio, print, etc), where to advertise geographically, and when to advertise, all while balancing the needs against the campaign’s budget.

It’s difficult to emphasize just how much of a role budget plays in this phase, not just from the standpoint of what can be purchased, but also what role every purchase has on the overall campaign itself. For example, if a campaign needs a certain amount of television reach to prove effective but there isn’t enough budget to obtain that amount of reach, it affects the balance of the media mix, which will affect what demographic can be reached, which affects what messaging to use, which could ultimately affect the objectives of the campaign in the first place. The real difficulty in media planning is walking that fine line between maintaining the objectives of the campaign, putting together a plan that can deliver that campaign effectively, and remaining within the budget.

An experienced marketing agency will be able to stretch your budget further than you could on your own through several approaches. First, we will be able to narrow your buys down to only those that will prove the most effective, cutting out the cost of a “spray and pray” approach. Second, we have the experience necessary to negotiate each buy down to the lowest cost possible, without sacrificing reach or frequency. We also have established relationships with media representatives, which gives us more buying power because we are often negotiating purchases for multiple clients at once. Last, most media outlets offer agencies a discounted purchase rate because they know their work will be streamlined by working with a professional agency, as opposed to a business owner who may never have run that type of advertisement before.

The final step to media planning, as with every marketing campaign, is to evaluate the performance of the campaign. You should identify the strengths and weaknesses in the campaign, how (or if) they are related to the media planning itself, what that means for future marketing efforts, if there are any opportunities for follow-up marketing to capitalize on the campaign you’ve already put in place, and determine if any changes should be made to your marketing strategy as a whole.

At Grid, we have over a decade of experience in working with regional and national media outlets to plan and execute media plans for a wide range of types of campaigns. If you’d like more information on how we can help your business with media planning, contact us!