What is Media Planning and How to Create an Effective Media Plan

What is media planning

Advertising spend in North America is on the rise. By the year 2022 the total ad spend is predicted to reach $250 billion dollars. With this much money in the balance it’s imperative that marketers have a plan in place to make sure their ad spend dollars are allocated effectively. In order to run a successful ad campaign that maximizes consumer engagement and ROI—and also meets campaign KPIs and the client’s goals—marketers must determine where, when, to who, and how often they will run their advertisements. This process is called media planning.

Going through the exercise of putting a media plan in place is valuable in helping marketers determine:
  1. The messaging being directed at their audience
  2. Campaign timing
  3. Ideal media channels to accomplish their campaign goals

A media plan that has been executed properly results in a clearly defined set of advertising opportunities for the target market, and also fits within the marketing budget.

Considerations when creating a media plan

The desired outcome of media planning for marketers is to reach consumers at a time and place when they’re most likely to click/engage/convert. Of course, to succeed in your campaign goals you’ll also need to have an effective advertising message.

Below are some considerations for marketers to keep in mind when developing a media plan to ensure that the desired outcome is met:

  • Reach – How many people do you want to view the advertisement over a specific period of time?
  • Frequency – How many times will your target audience view your ad?
  • Budget – What is your marketing budget, and what is the approximate cost per action?
  • Goals – How do you define success for this advertising campaign?

Media Plan Benefits

Not only is today’s marketing landscape more competitive than ever, but there are also more forms of media for marketers to choose from. Putting a media plan in place is critical for marketers as it will help them navigate this competitive landscape and create an effective ad campaign.

A few benefits of having a solid media plan are:
  • Marketers get to know their target audience, which in turn allows them to better understand what type of content will convert.
  • It allows marketers to stay on top of the most recent media trends.
  • Detailed budgets are created that can be followed throughout the course of the advertising campaign.
  • It gives marketers the opportunity to track their progress and measure their success as the ad campaign is happening. They also have the ability to look back on the plan along with the results of their campaign, to see how they can improve moving forward.

The Media Plan Process

  1. Set the Campaign Goals
    Whether it be driving brand awareness, generating leads, or increasing social follows and likes— it’s important to identify the primary goals of an advertising campaign and formulate a media plan around those goals.
  2. Do Your Market Research
    The first and arguably the most important step in the media planning process is conducting market research. This part of the process will help to create a plan that gets the most effective content in front of your target audience. Some key aspects of the market research portion of media planning includes: Researching industry trends. Taking a look at the competition – who is doing well and, and what is driving their success? Identifying the target audience. Finding out where your audience is most likely to view content. Understanding what type of content resonates with your audience. Identifying the best form of media to display your message.
  3. Set Your Budget Once goals have been set and research has been conducted, it’s important to identify the marketing budget. This is key, as the budget is a big factor in the type of media that can be purchased as well as the how frequently you can put that media out in the public eye to be viewed by the target audience.
  4. Present to the client/ team! Now, it’s time to present the marketing strategy to the client or team. Outline how you intend to meet the campaign goals, then close the deal by having them sign a Media Purchase Authorization or Authorization To Buy.
  5. Start Running Ads! Equally as important as the media planning itself, is the execution of the media plan. It’s paramount that the plan that was set out is followed! You’ll want to make sure that everyone who is involved has a deep understanding of the media plan, the target audience, and their overall role.
  6. Analyze the Results. Another aspect of the media planning process is analyzing the results. It’s important to not only take a look back after the fact to see what worked and what didn’t, but to also track results while the campaign is live. This allows for tweaks to be made to the campaign in order to make sure that goals are being met. This is a great practice that can benefit marketing teams by highlighting the portions of the plan that worked and should be utilized moving forward, as well as the parts that should be scrapped.

Choose the media that fits your plan

Once goals have been set and the research has been done, an important step in the media planning process is to select the type of media that will best support your plan, all while fitting within the marketing budget.

A great place to start sorting the channels you want in your media plan is to create a media flowchart. Media flowcharts help organize the flow of your media plan, providing a high-level, visual overview of the timing and placements for your media executions.

As our world continues to become more digital, it’s important for marketers to not only understand the traditional media channels that have been around for so long. They must also stay on top of the new digital channels that continue to pop up and evolve.

Below are some examples of both the traditional and digital media channel

Traditional media channels include:

  • Radio
  • Television
  • Print
  • Flyers
  • Telephone

Digital media channels include:

  • Social Platforms
  • YouTube
  • Programmatic
  • Audio
  • Email
  • Search Advertising

Time to start the media planning process

Media planning is essential in making sure that your business is able to achieve the very important task of creating great content and successfully sharing it with your target audience. The process of setting clear goals and creating a detailed plan to achieve those goals helps to ensure any ad campaign will be a success.

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