Marketing 8 min read

The Ultimate Guide to Media Planning

Gerd Altmann / Pixabay.com

Gerd Altmann / Pixabay.com

Main Media Planning Takeaways:

  • Media planning is the process of identifying and selecting the media channels in which to place an advertisement.
  • A media plan focuses on the strategy behind the content that a brand creates, publishes, and shares among customers.
  • A media planner is responsible for developing a coordinated plan that fits a specific client’s advertising budget.
  • Media planning is vital because it creates a way to centralize advertising metrics for quick decisions.
  • A media planner determines the best combination of media to achieve a specific marketing objective.
  • The process of creating an effective media plan is divided into five steps.
  • Some challenges of media planning include access to information, budget restriction, and integrating results.

With so many ways to share content today, media planning has become an essential marketing strategy. Brands across the world now share more media content than ever before to stay relevant. From images and videos to infographics and podcasts, the sheer amount of content can be confusing to track.

That’s why media planning is necessary. It helps determine the best way to convey a brand’s message to its target audience. Here’s an ultimate guide to creating an effective media plan.

What is Media Planning?

Media planning is the process of identifying and selecting the media channels where advertisements will be placed. It also involves determining how, when, and why a brand should share specific media content with its target audience. In other words, a media plan focuses on the strategy behind the content that a brand creates, publishes, and shares among customers.

Content sharing is essential to the success of any brand today, regardless of the size or industry. According to SEMrush78 percent of companies have a team of one to three content specialists.

Along with boosting awareness, content sharing can also increase engagement, conversions, and revenue. Also, media content can help you stand out from other businesses in your industry.

However, media planning is required to leverage several advertisement channels available today effectively. That’s why advertising agencies typically hire media planners.

What is the Role of a Media Planner?

Image shows a media planner looking at a board
Pexels / Pixabay.com

A media planner is responsible for developing a coordinated plan that fits a specific client’s advertising budget. Such individuals decide when, where, and how to feature a particular ad for maximum views. As a result, the most effective media planners can stretch a client’s advertising budget to reach a massive target audience.

In line with the definition above, a media planner determines:

  • The budget that advertisers allocate to an ad medium
  • How many people could be reached through each medium
  • The media and ad channel to place a specific ad
  • How frequent an ad should appear?

A media planner determines the best combination of media to achieve a specific marketing objective. But is media planning a worthwhile investment?

Why is Media Planning Important?

Media planning is essential because it creates a way to centralize advertising metrics for a quick decision. A good media plan describes the advertising result expected from a specific campaign. These include the ad cost, impressions, engagements, and the return-on-investment from a specific ad channel. It makes it easier for media planners to compare and select the most suitable advertising option.

In the end, you’ll have a uniform dataset as reference for building flowcharts, reconciliation reports, or allocation reports. Such uniform values are especially important when comparing campaigns.

What’s more, a detailed media plan provides a way to monitor a brand’s overall advertising health.

Media plans can be used as reference to determine how campaigns across various ad channels are performing. Then, the marketer can make the changes required to maximize the advertising budget.

How do you Create an Effective Media Plan?

Media plan image shows a person writing a list on a book
Glenn Carstens-Peters / Unsplash.com

The process of creating an effective media plan is divided into five steps. It begins with market analysis and establishing media objectives. After that, the media planner must develop the strategy, implement it, and evaluate the result. Let’s explain further.

1. Market Analysis

The market analysis stage begins with identifying your target audience. In other words, you’re looking to determine the number and type of people that the ad campaign targets.

You can classify your audience based on demographics and characteristics such as age, religion, gender, and income level, among others.

Another option is to define your audience based on psychographic terms. These include interests, activities, personality traits, and brand preferences, to name a few.

Performing a market analysis will help you project the cost of your marketing campaign. What’s more, it could help you make an informed media buying decision.

The marketing analysis stage should lead to a specific media objective.

2. Establishing the Media Objective

The second stage of media planning involves establishing media objectives. Like the market analysis stage, this stage should also result in explicit media objectives.

Identifying the following could aid in creating an effective media plan:

  • Reach: The number of people that see a message over a specific period.
  • Frequency: The average number of times the audience see a message
  • Circulation (for print media): The number of prints that are produced and distributed.
  • Cost (CPM) and (CPP): It tells you the best media option for your business.
  • Penetration: The number of audiences that a specific advertising channel reached.

Note that the objectives should only consist of goals that can be obtained through media strategies.

3. Setting the Strategy

At this point, you already know the people that you’re marketing to and how much it costs. The next step is to decide what type of media to use for your campaign.

For example, you could use traditional media such as television, radio, newspaper, consumer, and business publications. Alternately, you could invest in online marketing channels such as pay-per-click, social media, search engine optimization, and video marketing, among others.

Along with fitting it into your marketing budget, the ad channel should also provide the highest reach.

4. Implementation (Media Buying)

Now that you have a media plan, it’s time to set your plan in motion. The implementation stage involves media buying.

Media buying is the process of purchasing media placements for advertising on radio, television, digital signage, publication, or websites. It involves committing to the media provider, submitting the ad, and paying the bill.

Again, the purchased placement must meet the media objectives.

5. Evaluation and Follow-Up

The final stage of media planning is to evaluate its effectiveness. This is the stage where you ask the following questions:

  • Did you achieve your media objectives?
  • How successful are your strategies?

The evaluation stage lets you know which follow-ups are required. More importantly, it tells you whether a similar model will be useful for future campaigns.

Now that you understand the process let’s take a look at the challenges.

What are the Challenges of Media Planning?

An illustration of a computer, a phone, and a sheet of paper
talha khalil / Pixabay.com

1. Budget Restrictions

Media planning requires staying within a specific ad budget.

Since the planners must do more with less, they usually have to focus on the budget restrictions. Sometimes, this could be at the detriment of audience engagement and campaign performance.

It would be best if the media planner invests in the most affordable but impactful campaigns in such a situation.

2. Access to Information

Media planners usually have to create their strategies based on an in-depth knowledge of the target audience.

Along with studying what type of message best resonates with the consumers, you must also understand their routine. That way, you’ll know when they’re most likely to engage with your content.

As you may have guessed, such a level of analysis is not only expensive but also time-consuming.

3. Integrating Result Across Multiple Channels

After collecting data from media channels, planners must figure out how to measure each campaign’s success. They should also be able to compare the results and decide the way forward.

Unfortunately, that’s not as easy as it sounds. Since most consumers interact with multiple ad channels, advertisers may find it challenging to track the campaigns across these platforms.

Note that a well-defined media objective could help address this issue.

Final Words: Start Your Media Planning Process

There’s no denying that media planning is vital to a brand’s ability to create, publish, and share media content.

It ensures that you lay the foundation of the consumer’s journey to prevent missed opportunities. Also, it allows the media planner to devote more budget to high-performing advertisement channels.

So, work through the media planning process outlined above. Not only will you reach more audience, but you would also enjoy an improved conversion.

Read More: Why Integrated Marketing Communications Matters Today

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