Advertising, Media Buying

Media Buying 101: The Media Plan

Most companies understand the importance of advertising their products or services through traditional and digital channels, but it’s unlikely that they know how to get from A to Z or are aware of all the intricacies involved in efficiently advertising their business. As a result, their best bet is to hire an agency to develop a comprehensive media plan as well as negotiate, place and monitor the ads.

Many agencies have media departments staffed with media planners and media buyers or a hybrid of a media planner/buyer. The role of a media planner is to understand and strategically determine the media channels that will most efficiently reach the client’s target audience within the budget. Then the media buyer will contact the media outlets, negotiate placements and costs, and create insertion orders for the agreement between the client/agency and the media outlet.

When the planner begins working on a buy, they need to know five key components to develop a successful strategic plan:

1. Advertising Objective

Advertising objective is the “why” of the buy. Why is the client choosing to advertise and what does it hope to accomplish with this buy? It may be trying to change public opinion about the company or a product, educate the target audience, build brand awareness, etc.

2. Target Audience

Target audience is the “who” of the buy. Who is the client trying to reach with the buy and what demographics and psychographics do we know about this audience?

3. Geography

Geography is the “where” of the buy. Where is the target audience located and specifically what are the media markets, zip codes, counties, etc.?

4. Timing and Seasonality

Timing and seasonality is the “when” of the buy. Branding campaigns typically run on a consistent basis, while flighting involves scheduling ads to run during optimal periods for maximum exposure. Flighting is usually required for certain products or services such as an open enrollment period for insurance.

5. Budget

Budget is possibly the most critical component of a plan. This is a planner’s guide — the budget dictates the media outlets used in the buy as well as the frequency and duration of the buy.

Reach & Frequency

When buying media, it is imperative to understand the relationship between reach and frequency for a successful campaign. Reach is expressed as a percentage and is the number of individuals (or audience) you want to expose your message to over a given period of time. Frequency is how many times, on average, the individuals in your target audience should be exposed to your message. Reach and frequency, attained by the media schedule, is one of the most important aspects of any media buy.

The two elements are also intertwined. Reaching broad numbers of the target without enough frequency to influence the target audience’s behavior is ineffective. But reaching too few people with a great deal of frequency may not produce the desired result either.

The best media plans will focus on the client’s advertising objective and target audience along with being aligned with the company’s brand. If the budget allows, the plan will also diversify efforts by using unconventional channels to reach the audience.

Finally, a good media planner will measure the media plan’s performance throughout the campaign and at its completion. For certain campaigns such as direct response ones, you may see an immediate ROI. However, it is important to keep in mind that an ROI for a media plan can take time, especially for brand awareness campaigns.

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