What is a media schedule? (not just social media)

Media Schedule

What is a media schedule?

A media schedule is a tool that media managers use to establish the framework of a plan for their media campaigns across all media channels. This tool will indicate where media spend is going and what return that spend should be producing.

Most media schedules emphasize three key aspects of a company’s media strategy: budget, timing and audience engagement. At a glance, media schedules should deliver information on those three areas across all campaigns and among the various channels being leveraged.

Media scheduling strategies

What does a media schedule look like?

Like other media tools such as a media flowchart or an ad campaign calendar, media schedules can be easily created in any program (like Microsoft Excel) that allows you to create a table. The columns and rows of that table will partially depend on the scope of your media spend and the types of content you are promoting. However, one of the axes will delineate time, while the other identifies the details of your media placements. Those media details can include things like:

  • Expected spend
  • Expected impressions
  • Target audience
  • Frequency of posting/placements

The first key to finding a media schedule format that appeals to you is to find a calendar template that fits the timing of your media. Different calendar templates may work better for some schedules than others.

For example, if you’re solely tracking posts in a social media schedule, you might want to have both axes of your table relate to time, with one axis denoting the day of the week and the other axis denoting the time of day. If your social media marketing strategy includes paid social, though, you’ll want to make sure that the greater details of the spend, the targeting, and any other relevant information is included.

Tracking what time to post across each social network will likely need to be done on a different schedule than tracking your paid media placements that launch and end at wider intervals. 

As another example, if you’re tracking a multi-channel campaign, you could show monthly tracking on one axis and all of the other platforms and spend details on the other. At the bottom and right side of your table, it’s typically helpful to indicate the total spend for a certain column (i.e. month) or row (i.e. platform or channel)

How to schedule media?

When planning content for your content marketing, social media or ad campaigns, it’s critical to understand the full scope of your plan long before launch. Having those three key elements of a media schedule in mind — budget, timing, and audience engagement — will provide all of the data you need to fill out the framework you create.

Depending on your marketing plans, having a few different versions of a media schedule can be beneficial and allow you to view the schedule of your content in different ways. You can have one media schedule for all paid media campaigns, another for your blog posts and other content marketing pieces, and a third calendar for weekly social posts, for example. This kind of setup should make your content planning easy to navigate and review throughout the year.

Why do you need a media schedule?

Media schedules help your team stay on track and get a bird’s eye view of your overarching marketing strategy. It’s easy to get caught up in the details of a single campaign, platform or messaging strategy; media schedules help you zoom out and view your marketing efforts from a wider business intelligence perspective.

This practice helps you stay ahead on financials and also ensures that you can diversify your media, not being too pigeonholed with your spend into one channel or another.


Here are a few frequently asked questions about media schedules that might help you further understand them so that you can start leveraging them for your marketing strategy.
What information does a media schedule need to include?

The components of a media schedule will vary with your goals, but the core components that will likely need to be included are:

  • Platform
  • Timing of media placements/postings
  • Budget
  • Audience engagement, including targeting information and reach goals
How often should you update your media schedule?
Media strategy is a constantly evolving practice, so your media schedule should be updated as often as is needed to reflect your current plans. However, the best times to review and update your media schedule will typically be around the beginning and end of the year, as you strategize for the year of marketing ahead. Then, you can check in monthly or weekly to update, depending on the frequency of change in your planning.
How many media schedules do you need?
There’s not always a one-size-fits-all media schedule for everyone, but every marketer should have at least one to work with. Having multiple can help you better structure and organize the information based on different areas of your marketing efforts, but having one master media schedule can also be the best place to start if it fits your media strategy.
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