The two basic tasks of marketing communications are message creation and message dissemination. Media planning supports message dissemination. Media planning helps you determine which media to use–be it television programs, newspapers, bus-stop posters, in-store displays, banner ads on the Web, or a flyer on Facebook. It also tells you when and where to use media in order to reach your desired audience.
Simply put, media planning refers to the process of selecting media time and space to disseminate advertising messages in order to accomplish marketing objectives. When advertisers run commercials during the Super Bowl game at more than $2.5 million per thirty-second spot, for example, media planners are involved in the negotiation and placement.
O2 UK is a good example of goodMedia planning, http://www.o2.co.uk/ have successfully launched large scale online and offline media campaigns.
Media planners often see their role from a brand contact perspective. Instead of focusing solely on what medium is used for message dissemination, media planners also pay attention to how to create and manage brand contact. Brand contact is any planned and unplanned form of exposure to and interaction with a product or service. For example, when you see an ad for Volkswagen on TV, hear a Mazda’s “zoom zoom” slogan on the radio, are told by a friend that her iPod is the greatest invention, or sample a a new flavor of Piranha energy drink at the grocery store, you are having a brand contact. Television commercials, radio ads, and product sampling are planned forms of brand contact. Word of mouth is an unplanned brand contact — advertisers normally do not plan for word of mouth. From the consumer’s perspective, however, unplanned forms of brand contact may be more influential because they are less suspicious compared to advertising.
The brand contact perspective shows how the role of media planners has expanded. First, media planners have moved from focusing only on traditional media to integrating traditional media and new media. New media — cable and satellite television, satellite radio, business-to-business e-media, consumer Internet, movie screen advertising and videogame advertising — is playing an increasingly significant role. Spending on new advertising media is forecast to grow at a compound annual rate of 16.9 percent from 2005-2009, reaching $68.62 billion by 2009, while traditional media advertising is expected to rise only 4.2 percent on a compound annual basis during the same period to $192.28 billion.
Second, media planners are making more use of product placements now, in lieu of advertising insertions. Advertising insertions, like print ads or television commercials, are made separately from the content and are inserted into it. The ads are distinct from the articles or TV programs, not a part of them. As a result, the ads seem intrusive. In contrast, product placement (also called brand placement or branded entertainment) blends product information with the content itself. Whether content is a television program, movie, video game or other form of entertainment, product placement puts the brand message into the entertainment content. For example, in the movie E.T., the extraterrestrial eats Reese’s Pieces candy. The candy was authentically integrated into the movie ?and sales of Reese’s Pieces soared 80% after the movie, catapulting the new product to mainstream status. On the other hand, inappropriate or excessive product placements may do more harm than good to the brand.
Finally, the role of media planners has expanded as media planners have moved beyond planned messages to take advantage of unplanned messages as well. Whereas planned messages are what advertisers initiate — like an ad, press release or sales promotion — unplanned messages are often initiated by people and organizations other than advertisers themselves. Word of mouth, both online and offline, is one form of unplanned message. Although advertisers have little direct control over the flow of unplanned messages, they can facilitate such a flow.
For example, advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky (CP+B) created a viral marketing mascot, the Subservient Chicken, for Burger King to illustrate its slogan “Have It Your Way.” Visitors to the www.subservientchicken.com site can ask the chicken to make a move, such as jump, dance or lay an egg. In the first two weeks after the site’s launch, the Subservient Chicken story appeared on 63 broadcast segments, including five separate segments in television shows unplanned success. Within months, the site had generated 426 million hits from 15 million unique visitors averaging six minutes per session. Many visitors learned about the site through word of mouth, both online and offline. More recently, specialized agencies have started to hire word of mouth agents to work for advertisers on a fee basis. Initial research suggests that many consumers react positively to this kind of word of mouth communication. For example, Rock Bottom brew pub chain, reported a 76% jump in 2003 revenues after hired gun Bzz-Agent launched a 13-week word of mouth campaign employing 1,073 of its “agents” to get the word out.
These new approaches have altered how media planning works in the advertising process. “Seven years ago media was the last five minutes of the presentation. Now it’s reversed,” said Rishad Tobaccowala of Publicis Groupe Media, whose fast-growing Starcom division helps clients buy and measure interactive, mobile, and gaming ads. Media planners are playing an increasingly important role in today’s advertising industry because of the continuing proliferation of new media options and the increased complexity of media and audience research.
2. Media Objectives
How is a media plan developed? Media planning is a four-step process which consists of 1) setting media objectives in light of marketing and advertising objectives, 2) developing a media strategy for implementing media objectives, 3) designing media tactics for realizing media strategy, and 4) proposing procedures for evaluating the effectiveness of the media plan.
Let’s take a look at the planning process through an example: P&G’s launch of the Gillette Fusion shaving system for men in early 2006. First, P&G’s media objectives called for a $200 million media blitz to reach men in the U.S.
Second, P&G’s strategy included a mix of national media to introduce the brands. For example, television advertising, such as a $5 million Super Bowl ad campaign, portrayed Fusion as an advanced technology found in a secret government UFO lab. The TV ads also established the brand’s signature orange and blue color scheme. In store aisles, 180,000 display units promoted Fusion, using the brand’s colors to catch consumers’ attention. “We’re trying to put the product wherever men shop,” said Pauline Munroe, marketing director for blades and razors in P&G’s Gillette business unit.
Third, P&G’s media tactics — such as a Father’s Day sweepstakes, an episode of NBC’s The Apprentice in which the show’s teams competed to promote the razor, and sponsorship of competitive surfing — helped the company reach men of all ages. “Fusion will get so much attention that it will drive a lot of men to try these grooming products,” said Gary Stibel of New England Consulting Group. Finally, P&G used sales and market share targets to assess the effectiveness of the media plan. P&G expects sales of Fusion to reach $1 billion in sales by year three. P&G knows that the brand has already achieved 25% market share in the U.S. Thus, although $200 million seems like a lot to spend on advertising a new product, it represents a sound financial investment toward the tremendous future profit that P&G will gain from the new shaving system.
Now, let’s take a deeper look into the media planning process. Media planning, such as planning the marketing communications for the launch of the Fusion new shaving system, starts with setting media objectives. Media objectives usually consist of two key components: target audience and communication goals. The target audience component of the media objectives defines who is the intended target of the campaign. For example, P&G’s target audience objective for its Fusion shaving system was men 18-40 years old. The communications goals component of the media objectives defines how many of the audience the campaign intends to reach and how many times it will reach them. In short, media objectives are a series of statements that specify what exactly the media plan intends to accomplish. The objectives represent the most important goals of brand message dissemination, and they are the concrete steps to accomplish marketing objectives.
The next two sections (2.1. and 2.2.) provide details on target audience and communication goals. You’ll learn about sources of data to use to identify your target audience. You’ll also learn how to quantify communication plans.
2.1. Target Audience
The first objective of a media plan is to select the target audience: the people whom the media plan attempts to influence through various forms of brand contact. Because media objectives are subordinate to marketing and advertising objectives, it is essential to understand how the target audience is defined in the marketing and advertising objectives. The definition may or may not be exactly the same, depending on the marketing and advertising objectives and strategies.
A common marketing objective is to increase sales by a specific amount. But this marketing objective does not specify a target audience, which is why the media objective is needed. Consider Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and all the different strategies the advertiser could use to increase sales among different target audiences. For example, one target audience might be current customers — encouraging people who eat one bowl a day to also “munch” the cereal as a snack. Or, the advertiser might target competitors’ customers, encouraging them to switch brands. Or, the advertiser might target young adults who are shifting from high sugar “kids cereals” to more adult breakfast fare. Finally, the advertiser could target a broader lower-income demographic. The point is that each campaign could increase sales via a different target audience.
Marketers analyze the market situation to identify the potential avenues for boosting sales increase and consider how advertising might achieve those aims. If the advertiser chooses to attract competitors’ customers — like what Sprint does to attract users of other wireless services — the media plan will need to define the target audience to be brand switchers and will then identify reasons to give those potential switchers to switch, such as greater convenience, lower cost, or additional plan features. For example, in 2006 Sprint Nextel ran an ad campaign urging consumers to switch to Sprint because “no one has a more powerful network.”
2.1.1 Demographics and Psychographics
The target audience is often defined in terms of demographics and psychographics. Syndicated research services such as Simmons Market Research Bureau (SMRB or Simmons) and Mediamark Research Inc. (MRI) provide national data on a number of demographics of U.S. consumers, including gender, age, education, household income, marital status, employment status, type of residence, and number of children in the household. Using demographic variables, for example, the target audience of a media plan could be “individuals who are 26-to-45 years old with yearly household income of $50,000 or more” or “all households with children age 3 years or younger.”
Some advertisers believe that demographic definitions of a target audience are too ambiguous, because individual consumers that fit such definitions can be quite different in terms of their brand preference and purchase behavior. For example, think about the students in a media planning class. Even though some of them are the same age and gender, they may like different brands of toothpaste, shampoo, cereal, clothing, and other products. Therefore, media planners use psychographics to refine the definition of the target audience.
Psychographics is a generic term for consumers’ personality traits (serious, funny, conservative), beliefs and attitudes about social issues (opinions about abortion, environment, globalization), personal interests (music, sports, movie going), and shopping orientations (recreational shoppers, price-sensitive shoppers, convenience shoppers). Mazda, for example, doesn’t define its target audience by age, income or gender, but by psychographic principles. Mazda targets people who have a need for self-expression, are young at heart, and love to drive.
One psychographic system which media planners often use is called VALS (short for Values And LifestyleS), which was developed by SRI in the 1980s. VALS places U.S. adult consumers into one of eight segments based on their responses to the VALS questionnaire. The eight segments are: Innovators, Thinkers, Achievers, Experiencers, Believers, Strivers, Makers and Survivors. Each segment has a unique set of psychological characteristics. For example, Innovators are “successful, sophisticated, take-charge people with high self-esteem. Because they have such abundant resources, they exhibit all three primary motivations in varying degrees. They are change leaders and are the most receptive to new ideas and technologies. Innovators are very active consumers, and their purchases reflect cultivated tastes for upscale, niche products and services.” Defining a target audience by psychographic variables helps not only creative directors with the development of advertising appeals but also media planners with the selection of effective media channels. If a psychographic group of consumers likes playing golf, for example, they are likely to read golf-related magazines and visit golf-related Web sites.
2.1.2. Generational Cohorts
In addition to demographics and psychographics, generational cohort is another useful concept for selecting the target audience. Because the members of a particular generational cohort are likely to have had similar experiences during their formative years, they maintain analogous social views, attitudes, and values. Generational cohorts in the U.S. are the Baby Boomers (about 70 million people born 1945-1964), Generation X (about 17 million people born in 1965-1978), and Generation Y (about 60 million people born between 1979 and 1994). Each of the cohorts possesses distinct characteristics in their lifestyles and often serves as a reference group from which finer segments of the target audiences can be selected for specific advertising campaigns.
An interesting example of a generational cohort is “kogals” in Japan. Originating from the world for “high school,” kogals are a unique segment of young women in urban Japan who conspicuously display their disposable incomes through unique tastes in fashion, music, and social activity. They have the leisure time to invent new ways of using electronic gadgets. For example, they started changing mobile phones’ ring tones from boring beeps to various popular songs and changing screen savers from dull defaults to cute pictures. Manufacturers observe kogals and listen to what they say is unsatisfactory about the products. In some cases, manufacturers simply imitate the new usages that kogals spontaneously invented and incorporate these usages part of their own new commercial services, thereby increasing sales.
2.1.3. Product and Brand Usage
Target audiences can also be more precisely defined by their consumption behavior. Product usage includes both brand usage (the use of a specific brand such as Special K cereal or Dove soap) andcategory usage (the use of a product category such as facial tissue or chewing gum). Product use commonly has four levels: heavy users, medium users, light users and non-users. The levels of use depend on the type of product. For example, Simmons defines heavy domestic beer users as those who consume five or more cans in the past 30 days, medium beer users as those who consumer two to four cans, and light users as those who consume one can in 30 days. For travel, Simmons’ definitions are: three foreign trips per year indicate heavy travel users, 2 foreign trips per year are medium travel users, and 1 trip per year are light travel users. There is a popular saying in the industry: “the twenty percent who are heavy users account for eighty percent of the sales of a product.” This highlights the importance of heavy users for a brand’s performance. Examples of defining a target audience by product usage can be “individuals who dine out at least four times in a month” or “individuals who made domestic trips twice or more last year.”
Similarly, brand usage has several categories. Brand loyals are those who use the same brand all the time. Primary users use a brand most of the time but occasionally also use other brands in the same category; they are secondary users for these competing brands. Brand switchers are those who have no brand preference for a given product category but choose a brand on the basis of situational factors. An analysis of the brand usage pattern is helpful for the identification of the appropriate target audience. Simmons  and MRI  offer brand usage data for many national brands.
2.1.4. Primary and Secondary Target Audience
The target audience in a media plan can be either primary or secondary. A primary target audience is one that plays a major role in purchase decisions, while a secondary target audience plays a less decisive role. In the case of video game players, for example, children’s requests often initiate a purchase process; parents often respect their children’s brand selection. Thus, it is reasonable to consider children as the primary target audience and their parents as the secondary target audience. If the parents are aware of the advertised brand, it will be easier for children to convince them of the purchase. Media planners need to examine and identify the role of consumers in shopping, buying and consuming a product or service to target the right groups of consumers effectively.
2.1.5. The Size of Target Audiences
In the process of defining a target audience, media planners often examine and specify the actual size of a target audience — how many people or households fit the definition. Knowing the actual size helps advertisers to estimate the potential buying power of the target audience. For example, if the target audience of a campaign is defined as working women 26-to-44 years old who are interested in receiving daily news updates on their mobile phones, media planners should estimate the number of these women in the U.S. to quantify the sales potential.
As another example, if the target audience consists of 2,000,000 households in the U.S. and each household purchases the brand two times a month, the monthly sales would be 4,000,000 units. The U.S. Census Bureau  provides the most authoritative data about demographics of the U.S. population by state. Whereas the U.S. Census provides demographic data, market research services such as Simmons and MRI provide demographic data that is linked to product data. This means that media planners can get information about consumers of hundreds of product types.
2.2. Communication Goals
After media planners define the target audience for a media plan, they set communication goals: to what degree the target audience must be exposed to (and interact with) brand messages in order to achieve advertising and marketing objectives. For example, one communication goal can be that 75 percent of the target audience will see the brand in television commercials at least once during a period of three months. Another communication goal is that 25 percent of the target audience will form a preference for a new brand in the first month of the brand launch. The different communication goals can be better understood in a hierarchy of advertising objectives, such as Bill Harvey’s expansion of an earlier model of Advertising Research Foundation (ARF).
The expanded ARF model has ten levels, as shown in Figure 1. The first three levels of goals from the bottom — vehicle distribution, vehicle exposure, and advertising exposure — are particularly relevant for media planning. Vehicle distribution refers to the coverage of a media vehicle, such as the number of copies that a magazine or newspaper issue has, or the number of households that can tune in to a given television channel. Vehicle exposure refers to the number of individuals exposed to the media vehicle, such as the number of people who read a magazine or watched a television program. Advertising exposure refers to the number of individuals exposed an ad or a commercial itself.
It is important to note the difference between vehicle exposure and advertising exposure for many media with editorial content. For example, not all audience members of a television program will watch all the commercials interspersed in the program. A study shows that only 68 percent of television audiences watch the commercials in television programs. Vehicle exposure represents only an opportunity to see an ad, not necessarily that the ad has actually been seen. In reality, advertising exposure is rarely measured, and media planners use vehicle exposure as a proxy measure of advertising exposure.
Another group of communication goals is advertising recall, advertising persuasion, leads and sales. Advertising recall represents the cognitive effect of the ad, advertising persuasion represents the emotional effect of the ad, and leads and sales are the behavioral effects of the ad. Each can be specified in a media plan as a communication goal. For example, a communication goal can specify that 50% of the target audience will recall the radio ad during the month of the campaign, or that a campaign will generate 3000 leads.
ARF Model Expanded for Interactive
2.2.1. Reach, Frequency and Gross Rating Points
Media planners often define the communication goals of a media plan using the three interrelated concepts of reach, gross rating points, and frequency. Media planners use reach to set their objective for the total number of people exposed to the media plan. Reach is one of the most important terms in media planning and has three characteristics. First, reach is a percentage, although the percentage sign is rarely used. When reach is stated, media planners are aware of the size of the target audience. For example, if a media plan targets the roughly 5 million of women who are 18-25 years old, then a reach of 50 means that 50% or 2.5 million of the target audience will exposed to some of the media vehicles in the media plan. Second, reach measures the accumulation of audience over time. Because reach is always defined for a certain period of time, the number of audience members exposed to the media vehicles in a media plan increases over time. For example, reach may grow from 20 (20%) in the first week to 60 (60%) in the fourth week. The pattern of audience accumulation varies depending on the media vehicles in the media plan. Third, reach doesn’t double-count people exposed multiple times if the media plan involves repeated ads in one media category or ads in multiple media categories. Media planners use reach because it represents that total number of people exposed to the marketing communication.
Besides reach, media planners use Gross Rating Points as a shorthand measure of the total amount of exposure they want to buy from media outlets such as TV networks. For example, the 2006 Super Bowl game received a rating of 42, which means 42 percent of U.S. television households tuned in to the program. If an advertiser planned to run a commercial once during the Super Bowl, that ad would appear in 42% of households. If the commercial was run only once, the reach is equal to the rating of the program, a GRP of 42. If the advertiser’s media plan called for running the ad twice during the Super Bowl, the GRP would be 2*42 = 84.
Media planners often think in terms of gross rating points because ad prices often scale with this measure. As a rule of thumb, it costs about twice as much to obtain a GRP of 84 as to obtain a GRP of 42. A media plan that calls for a GRP of 84 doesn’t necessarily mean that the advertiser must advertise twice on the Super Bowl. The advertiser could also buy 6 spots on popular primetime shows that each have a rating of 14 (6*14 = 84) or buy a large number of spots (say 42 spots) on a range of niche-market cable TV programs, radio stations or magazines that have a rating of 2. Some media vehicles are best-suited to specific target audiences. For example, the Nickelodeon TV channel controls 53% of kids GRPs.
Notice the difference between GRP and reach: GRP counts total exposures while reach counts unique people exposed. Thus, GRP does double-count people who see ads multiple times. Frequency connects the concept of reach with that of GRP. To see this relationship between GRP and reach, let’s consider what happens when an advertiser puts two spots on the Super Bowl — one during the first half of the game and another in the second half. As mentioned earlier, this example plan has a GRP of 84. But what is the reach? That depends on how many people watch both halves of the game. Rating services such as A.C. Nielsen monitor who watches the game, when they watch, and whether they watch the first half or the second half or both halves of the game.
These rating services know that, for example, 1/3 of the game-watching households stop watching after the first half and 1/3 of game-watching households start watching during the second half. This means that, although 42% of households are tuned in to the game during each half, it’s not the same 42% for both halves. Thus, the reach of the first ad is 42, but then one-third of these households (42%*1/3 = 14% of all households) tune out before the second ad during the second half. This means that only 28% of all households watch both first and second halves of the game and see the ad twice. This 28% of households who are still watching when the second spot shows won’t add to the reach when they see the second spot. During the second half, a different 14% of U.S. households tune in. These new watchers do count toward the reach during the second half because they didn’t see the ad during the first half. Thus, the total reach for the game for the two-ad plan is 42+14 = 56.
Frequency is the ratio of GRP over reach. Frequency is a measure of repetition. The formula of calculating frequency is:
Frequency = Gross rating points / Reach
Using the Super Bowl example again, if the GRPs were 84 and the reach was 56, then the frequency would then be 1.5 (84/56=1.5). A frequency of 1.5 would mean that, on average, audience members of the Super Bowl game had one-and-a-half opportunities to watch the ad.
The media objectives of a media plan often call for some combination of reach and frequency. Media planners want the highest reach possible because that means more people will be exposed to the campaign, which should lead to more brand awareness, customer loyalty, sales, and so on. Media planners also seek high frequency if they feel that consumers will only take action (that is, buy the product) after multiple exposures to the campaign. For example, launching a new brand or teaching consumers about the features of a product (like the features of a five-bladed shaving system) may take several impressions.
Thus, reach indicates the media dispersion while frequency shows the media repetition. Notice that the formula for frequency can be flipped to make a formula for GRPs; GRPs are the product of reach multiplied by frequency. If a media plan calls for a broad reach and a high frequency, then it calls for very high GRPs (lots of ad exposures to lots of people). Achieving a very high GRP is very expensive, however, and budget issues may preclude such a high GRP. Thus, media planners may start with budget, then estimate the GRPs that they can afford and then either sacrifice reach to maintain frequency or let frequency drop to one in order to maximize reach.
2.2.2. Frequency Distribution, Effective Frequency and Effective Reach
Media planners also consider frequency distribution in order to fully understand exactly how many exposures different people experience; that is, how many people will see the ad once, twice, three times, etc. This lets the planner estimate the effective reach of the plan at the effective frequency needed by the campaign ?the number of people who see the ads a sufficient number of times for the media plan to be effective.
Effective frequency refers to the minimum number of media exposures for a communication goal to be achieved, while effective reach is the reach (% of households) at the effective frequency level. Media planners choose an effective frequency based on the communication goals. Communication goals vary across the continuum from awareness, preference, attitude change to trial, purchase, and repurchase. To change brand attitude requires more exposures (higher effective frequency) than does creating brand awareness. If the effective frequency is set for a given communication goal, the reach at that effective frequency level will be the effective reach.
Let’s go back to the Super Bowl example. A total of 28% of households see the ad twice by watching the entirety of the game. During the first half, 14% of households see the ad once but then don’t watch the second half. Another 14% join the game in progress and see the ad once during the second half. Thus, 14+14 = 28% see the ad just once. This leaves 44% of households (100% – 28% – 28%) who never see the ad. In summary, the frequency distribution is: reach of 28 at the frequency of 2; reach of 28 at the frequency of 1; and reach of 44 at the frequency of 0 (also called non-reach).
Let’s extend this example by continuing this hypothetical campaign. On the Thursday after the Super Bowl, the advertiser does one more media blitz ?showing an encore of their Super Bowl ad on all major networks during the prime time slot of 8:00 to 8:30 PM. This practice of advertising on multiple channels at the same time ensures that most people will see the ad regardless of which channel they watch. Table 2 shows the viewer data, collected from households across the country, with the percentage of households who were watching during various combinations of the three time slots.