Today’s marketers are often tasked with balancing campaign efforts across a range of different media platforms and assets. This can make it challenging to effectively track each tactic’s success and overall impact on the business’s bottom line. With a thorough media planning strategy in place, teams can more accurately and holistically monitor campaign success and make informed decisions about how to optimize performance in the future. Let’s take a look at some of the key considerations to keep in mind when building a media plan:

What is Media Planning?

Media planning is the process by which marketers determine where, when, and how often they will run an advertisement in order to maximize engagements and ROI. The media plan might split advertising spend and resources between various online and offline channels such as broadcast, print, paid ads, video ads or native content.

In today’s competitive marketing landscape, marketers need to serve consumers with the right message, at the right time, on the right channel in order to see engagements. Media planning is where marketers determine what these “rights” are.

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What is a Media Plan?

An effective media plan will result in a set of advertising opportunities that target a specific audience and fit in with the organization’s marketing budget. When establishing a media plan, marketers will often factor in the following considerations:

  • Who does the ad need to reach?
  • What is the marketing budget?
  • Conversion goals
  • Frequency of the message
  • Reach of the message
  • How to define success

Media planning is most often done by media planners at advertising agencies. Media planners must work with media buyers and the client organization to develop a strategy to maximize ROI on media spend. Media planners are required to have a firm understanding of the organization’s brand and target audience, various media platforms and developing media trends.

Media planning is more involved with formulating a strategy, evaluating its effectiveness, and adjusting, while buying is the execution of the strategy.

As noted, the media planner will evaluate brand and audience to determine the correct combination of messaging and media mix on which to advertise in order to reach consumers in a positive, impactful way.

What Are the Benefits of Media Planning?

Today’s modern marketing often requires marketers to leverage multiple forms of media, and a data-driven media plan provides marketers with centralized information across all platforms. This helps to optimize campaigns and messaging, as well as streamline the campaign review process.

What are the Objectives of Media Planning?

Media planners need to identify the combination of ads to achieve a specific result. Their objectives generally align with business goals, such as long-term growth and improving ROI. Media planning will often utilize a wide range of tactics to increase brand awareness, generate leads, or drive conversions to help their organizations accomplish these goals.

Media Planning vs. Media Buying

Media buying is the process of purchasing ad space across various channels and platforms in coordination with the agreed-upon media plans and monitoring campaigns as they run. This means evaluating platform formats and rates to ensure they coincide with the plan, negotiating costs, keeping abreast of media trends and building relationships with counterparts at various channels and platforms. Media buying often leverages one of the following popular strategies:

  • Manual bidding
  • Direct buys
  • Programmatic buys
  • Real-time bidding

Challenges of Media Planning

Media planning can be challenging because there are so many contributing factors that must be accounted for, and because many believe that media planning strategies and processes have not modernized along with marketing.

Challenges include but are not limited to:

  • Consumer-Level Targeting: The media plan must understand consumers at a granular level to determine what types of messages resonate with them, requiring in-depth marketing analytics.
  • Platform Preference: Brands must also know the various channels and platforms that target audience members engage with and when. This will allow them to effectively choose media on which to run campaigns. All of this must be done with budget and media spend in mind.
  • Heavy Budget Focus: Media planning continues to revolve around budget rather than customer engagement. There is limited flexibility in a budget and plan to allow marketers to course correct as campaigns run and new insights are discovered. Modern media planning requires the flexibility to allocate budget to different channels if they prove to be more successful.
  • Integrating Measurements: Because there are so many channels online and offline, it has become infinitely more difficult for marketers to measure the success of these campaigns alongside each other to determine which are most effective and which should be updated.

Today, media planning has to adapt to focus on the consumer experience using flexible budgets and real-time, unified measurements that allow for media plan optimizations in-campaign.


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