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Media Planning 101

By Hannah Hill on Tue, Apr 22, 2014 @ 10:59 AM |


Selecting the right media platforms to advertise your products or services can be a daunting task and requires time, energy and strategy. A “set it and forget it” approach isn’t going to prove very successful as media planning should never be put on autopilot. With the plethora of media options, and the rate at which new options become available, careful consideration should be given to each alternative at the onset of each advertising campaign. Some advertisers handle the media planning on their own, but it’s no surprise why some enlist the help of an agency. What follows is an introductory course on the ins and outs of media planning.

Determine the campaign objective

First things first: figure out the goal of the advertising campaign. Without a clear objective you won’t be able to evaluate whether or not the campaign is successful. Goals can vary from increasing brand awareness to driving store traffic to stealing breakfast business from McDonald’s.


Determine the right media mix

As I alluded to in the introduction, media planning isn’t getting any easier, especially since technology continues to affect consumers’ media consumption habits. The days of deciding between newspaper, television and radio are long gone as new media have joined the party, but this doesn’t mean advertisers should neglect traditional media altogether. Traditional media, when paired with non-traditional channels, can greatly increase the reach of a campaign. Figure out what your target audience is reading, watching and listening to, and then include it in your media mix.

Determine the media schedule

Once you have selected the right media mix for your ad campaign, you have to wisely pick the dates the ads will appear on TV, in the newspaper, on the radio and on your local news website. Pay close attention to holidays and other events when planning your schedule and know that circulation can vary from one day to the next.

Pick one: frequency or reach

You can’t have it all, at least not without investing a significant chunk of change. Do you want to cast a wide net and reach as many people as possible, or would you rather repeatedly hit fewer people with your message? This decision will be harder to make than “paper or plastic” at the grocery checkout but easier than accepting a marriage proposal from someone you’re not entirely sure is “the one.” Determine which is most important to you and adjust your media schedule accordingly.

Set the budget

Your budget may help narrow available media options. In addition to determining the overall media budget, you will need to determine how to best allocate it across your options. Will you evenly distribute it across media or focus primarily on one medium with a couple supporting channels? Consider which outlets offer the best return on investment and spend wisely.

Evaluate success

HS-thumb-up-thumb-downJust as you shouldn’t hop on the scale every day to see if you’re losing weight, you shouldn’t expect to see immediate results. Set benchmarks before kicking off the campaign and measure success at the end of every week, month or quarter. Make changes as needed to ensure the continued success of the campaign.

Now that you have completed Media Planning 101, you have two options. You can either use the steps outlined above to determine the media strategy for your next advertising campaign, or if you’re not feeling up for it you can give us a call at 888-672-2100 and leave it to us. The choice is yours.

Download the CMO's Guide to Media Buying


Hannah Hill is a marketing specialist at Mediaspace Solutions. Her marketing experience includes writing, inbound marketing, social media and event management. You can connect with Hannah on LinkedIn, Facebook or Google+.

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