What is Media Planning?

what is media planning

What is Media Planning?

Media planning is the strategic selection of paid media placements across various media channels to effectively advertise a product or service. Media planning in advertising also involves creating a media plan that aims to accomplish any marketing objectives that the company has determined to help measure the success of the specific campaign and the brand overall.

What are the elements of media planning?

The elements of media planning include understanding marketing objectives, setting campaign goals, performing market research, managing a budget, structuring media objectives to establish a media planning strategy, creating a media plan, implementing the plan and evaluating the results of the plan. Media planning is the process based on these elements, which lead media planners to build context before building an actionable strategy.

Most media campaigns begin with a brand or client crafting and delivering a marketing brief that describes all of the long-term marketing objectives and goals for the campaign that they want to accomplish. The brief will also provide more insight into the brand’s products or services that need media advertisements, potential target audience information and other suggestions and contextual information for the campaign.

Media planners start here to build an understanding of what information they already have to work with as they seek the best placements for their ads.

Media planners then perform any necessary market research to continue to better their understanding of the target audience and how similar products or services may have been marketed in the past. They may conduct surveys, consult existing study results, run product tests or discuss with focus groups.

Market research may be done in-house (whether by the brand itself or the agency doing the media planning for a client) or performed by a hired third party. The findings from this research are then analyzed and condensed into key insights that will impact the eventual structure of the media plan.

With the background for the marketing campaign established through initial goals and research, media planners can begin to set specific objectives for the media plan. These media objectives will be narrowed down to create the direct goals for each media campaign, helping to construct the framework for the media planning strategy.

Media objectives should include specific KPI benchmarks, audience requirements and optimal spend levels. Marketers should consider whether objectives like overall brand awareness are more important than driving volume of sales to a specific product, for example. Through these objectives and the initial background research, a media planning strategy is established – this paves the way for the creation of a media plan.

Using the knowledge of the media planning strategy, media planners construct a media plan that incorporates one or more media platforms in which ads will be placed. The channels chosen for the media plan will be cost-effective for the advertiser’s budget constraints, adequate for the required reach and frequency goals of the target audience and relevant in format to the creative and messaging being placed.

Once the team or client has been presented with this plan, the media planners move forward to the media buying phase for implementation. Media planning and media buying teams are often separate, so the media planners may consult with the media buyers to get their plan implemented and the ad space purchased.

After the campaign has gone live, media planners will continuously analyze the results of the campaign to ensure that goals are being met and the plan remains optimized for maximum effectiveness. This analysis will in turn help the planners learn more about their target audiences and craft future campaigns with better success.

Planning tools

In this digital age, there are tons of smart planning tools out there that can help media planners stay organized. Media flowcharts, media schedules and advertising campaign calendars let you visualize your advertising campaigns and understand what media will reach a specific audience segment. Planning tools like these can help you compare real time data from media dashboards, like conversion rates and impressions, to your overall goals set out in your media plan. With the bird’s eye view that certain media planning tools offer, you can better understand how to reach your target audience based on your previous and current efforts. 

Some tools help you earlier in the planning process, such as those that facilitate a relationship with media vendors. An agency RFP scorecard could help you compare RFP responses side by side to determine which vendor has the best offering for your audience and budget. Of course, media buying platforms are one of the most common tools that you may associate with media buying before planning – however, they assist planners in understanding what options are out there. One new and very useful tool for media planners is a media agency RFP discovery tool that helps you discover new vendors, see their offerings and get in touch with them.


Here are a few frequently asked questions about media plans that you might be asking.
What are the objectives of media planning?
The primary objective of media planning is to select the best combination of media channels in which to advertise a product or service to a target audience. Choosing the right media channels and formats can lead to greater effectiveness in reaching the right audience, reaching more of that audience and reaching them in a way that they are more likely to engage with the brand.
How to create media strategy?
Media strategy is founded on background knowledge and data collected through market research and information provided by the brand. In consideration of whatever products or services are being marketed and the audience to whom those products or services are being marketed, media strategy can be established and lead to a data-driven, goal-oriented media plan.
How to create a media plan?

Media planners should follow a set process that incorporates all of the core elements of media planning. Campaign goals must be considered along with background research, a budget must be established and the right media channels for the audience must be considered. Media planners may create a media flowchart to organize and visualize the plan. 

Learn more about how to create an effective media plan in our previous article on media planning.

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