Media planning is the process of identifying and selecting media outlets—mainly websites, TV and radio stations, magazines and newspapers, and outdoor placements—in which to place paid advertisements.
The person responsible for evaluating the many media options and strategizing campaigns to support a particular product, service, or brand is called a media planner. Media planners typically are employed by advertising agencies.
A media planner’s job is to develop a coordinated plan for a particular client’s advertising budget. They decide where, when, and how often to feature a specific ad.
The more the planner can optimize (or stretch) a client’s budget to reach the largest number of people, the better the odds of seeing results. The whole purpose of advertising is to make potential customers aware of a company’s products or services and to persuade them to buy.
Media planning is one of four key divisions of most advertising agencies, which also include:
- Brand planning
- Account management
Some agencies specialize only in media planning.
How to create a media plan
The goal when creating a media plan is to reach target customers—those who are most likely to buy from you, at the exact moment that they have decided to buy.
Using advertising, you can educate and inform those likely customers to make them aware of your business and to persuade them to buy a particular product from you rather than another business.
To make that happen as cost-effectively as possible, it is important to weigh the following when developing your media plan:
- Reach: One of the two most important factors to consider, reach is the number of people you want to get in front of during a particular timeframe, such as a week or a month.
- Frequency: The second most important factor is frequency, which is the number of times your target customers will see your ad. Obviously, the higher the number, the better, but cost is also a factor. For example, you may want to run an ad daily in your local newspaper, but the cost for such a purchase may exceed your annual budget.
- Cost-per-thousand: One way to measure the cost of advertising is to divide the total cost of advertising in a particular outlet by the media’s thousands of customers, to get the cost-per-thousand value. For newspapers and magazines, you’d divide the cost by total subscribers. For blogs, you’d divide by subscribers.
- Selectivity: Depending on how targeted your product is, you may want a measure of how well the media outlet reaches your particular prospect. For example, advertising Rolls Royces through the local newspaper will attract attention, but what percent of the newspaper’s subscribers are likely to buy? It might be too low a number to make sense.
- Impact: How many senses can the media outlet reach? Magazines can appeal to sight, and perhaps smell (with those perfume inserts), while websites can appeal to sight and sound. The same is true with TV. You should consider what senses will make the biggest impact on a customer’s purchase decision.
Media planning is a science designed to generate maximum sales from all the advertising your company invests in.