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Media Planning

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Media planning is the series of decisions involved in delivering the promo­tional message to the prospective consumers. It is the process of directing the advertising message to the target audience by using the appropriate channel at the proper time and place.

The media plan marks on the best way to get the advertiser’s message to the market. Generally, the goal of the media plan is to find that combination of media that allows the marketer to communicate the message in the most effective manner to the largest number of potential customers at the lowest cost.

Media planning assists in controlling wasteful advertising. It ensures die optimum-utilisation of resources spent on advertising. In media plan, media objectives are decided keeping in view the advertising objectives of the organisation. Media plan specifies media strategies. Media strategy means plans of action designed to attain media objectives.

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Fryburger opines, “Media planning involves selecting appropriate media for carrying advertising message to target audience and deciding how much to spend on each media and scheduling (deciding the time) when the advertisement is to run.”

Learn about:- 1. Introduction to Media Planning 2. Meaning of Media Planning 3. Definitions 4. Factors Affecting 5. Importance 6. Steps Involved in the Process 7. Media Plan 8. Problems.


Media Planning: Introduction, Meaning, Definitions, Factors Affecting, Importance, Steps and Problems

Media Planning – Introduction

Media planning refers to an analytical method for making media decisions, and describes the process of taking the message across to the target audience at the right time and place, and using the right media vehicle.

As we know by now, media planners work in close cooperation with the creative people. The creative execution often decides the direction of media planning. Conversely, media planning also shapes the creative execution.

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Media Plan is derived from advertising plan. Advertising plan itself, in its turn, is derived from the marketing plan. Marketing plan considers the total marketing environment and sets the marketing objectives.

To realise these objectives, we formulate marketing strategies. There is an action plan to implement these strategies. Advertising plan is derived from market­ing plan, and lays down promotional strategy as a part of the marketing strategy.

We also set before us advertising objectives in terms of sales and communications. To realise these objectives, advertising plan formulates the advertising strategy. Advertising strategy is in other words the message strategy and decides what to say.

This strategy is executed by art directors by selecting proper production values. It is called creative strategy or execution. The whole advertising plan is to be imple­mented to a predetermined cost – the advertising budget.

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Our media plan is derived from the advertising plan. It sets the media objectives. The objectives are realised through media strategies. We have to select media vehicles and a media schedule.

Media planning is the series of decisions involved in delivering the promo­tional message to the prospective consumers. It is the process of directing the advertising message to the target audience by using the appropriate channel at the proper time and place.

The planning should concentrate on:

i. Whom to reach,

ii. When and where to reach,

iii. The total target group,

iv. The frequency of exposure,

v. The affordable cost involvement.

After rationalisation of all the above issues, decisions are taken to formu­late the media plan. Media planning involves the coordination of three levels of strategy development – a) Marketing Strategy, b) Advertising Strategy, c) Media Strategy. Based on the marketing strategy, the advertising strategy and media strategy are generated.

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The media strategy involves the interrelated activities like – (i) selecting the target audience, (ii) specifying media objectives, (iii) selecting media and ve­hicles, and (iv) buying media.


Media Planning – Meaning

The media planning marks on the best way to get the advertiser’s message to the market. Generally, the goal of the media planning is to find that combination of media that allows the marketer to communicate the message in the most effective manner to the largest number of potential customers at the lowest cost.

It is a document laying out objectives, strategy, tactics, resource allocation, and media schedule and media mix to be used in reaching a targeted audience.

The series of decisions concerned in delivering the promotional message to the prospective purchasers and/or users of the product or brand is called as Media Planning. It is a process, of making a number of decisions each of which may be altered or abandoned as the plan develops.

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It comprises of media plan brief, understanding budgets, goals and market scenario, target audience analysis using research-driven tools, and different media sites and ad. It determines how advertising time and space in various media will be used to achieve the advertising objectives and marketing objectives of the company.

The basic goal of media planning is to find out that combination of media which enables the advertiser to communicate the ad-message in the most effective manner at lowest cost.

Media planning assists in controlling wasteful advertising. It ensures die optimum-utilisation of resources spent on advertising. In media plan, media objectives are decided keeping in view the advertising objectives of the organisation. Media plan specifies media strategies. Media strategy means plans of action designed to attain media objectives.

Therefore, deciding media objectives, media strategies, selecting of media, selection of appropriate media-mix, deciding media-scheduling, etc., is known as media-planning. It also involves monitoring media performance (follow up) and review of media plan.

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For the advertiser, the media for marketing would include the sales force, distribution network, the brand, the package, display on the dealers’ shelves and also sales promotion, public relations and mass media advertising. He allocates his budget resources in such a way that he gets the best returns on his spend.

At the same time, he needs to coordinate the efforts so that the combined impact exceeds his targets in terms of tasks accomplished, sales achieved, market share improved etc.

Some of these he controls. However, when it comes to mass media, the Media Planner in the advertising agency (some advertisers have their own planners too) is the person who does the planning. He first sets the media objectives.


Media Planning – Definitions

The definition of media planning given by some philosophers are:

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Wells Burnett defines ‘Media Planning’ as, “Media planning is a decision process regarding use of advertising time and space to assist in the achievement of marketing objectives.”

S.W. Dunn holds, “Media planning is the process of determining how to use time and space of media to achieve advertising objectives.”

Fryburger opines, “Media planning involves selecting appropriate media for carrying advertising message to target audience and deciding how much to spend on each media and scheduling (deciding the time) when the advertisement is to run.”

George EL Belch opines, “Media-planning is the series of decisions involved in delivering die promotional message in the most effective manner to the largest number of potential customers at lowest cost.”

Media planning includes the answer to following 5 Ws:

1. Which – Which media is to be picked for communicating with our target audience? i.e., identifying suitable media-mix.

2. When – When the ad is to be issued? i.e., deciding month, day, time of ad.

3. What – What type of message should be communicated? i.e., the message is informative or demonstrative in nature.

4. Whom – Whom does a marketer want to reach? i.e., identifying target audience (potential customers).

5. Where – Where are potential customers located? i.e., identifying geographical area.


Media Planning – Top 13 Factors Affecting Media Planning

Media planning includes various decisions which are taken in delivering the promotional message to the prospective customers. It helps the advertiser to determine the best way to deliver its message to its target audience. The basic goal of media-plan is to select the suitable media, to find their optimum combination and thus enable the advertiser to communicate his message in most effective manner to the largest number of potential customers at lowest possible cost.

Following are the factors affecting media planning:

Factor # 1. Nature of Product:

Product to be advertised can be industrial/technical product or consumer product. Industrial/technical products can better be advertised in specific trade- journals/magazines. Consumer products can be better advertised through mass media such as television, newspaper, outdoor advertising etc. Similarly, products for farmers like fertilizers, seeds etc. can be advertised in T.V., radio, wall painting, etc.

Factor # 2. Nature of Customers:

An appropriate media plan must consider the type or number of consumers, for whom advertising is to be done. Different consumers differ in their age-group, sex, income, personality, educational level, attitude etc. On the basis of consumer traits, consumer groups can be- men, women, children, young, old, professional, businessmen, high income group, middle-income group, low-income group, Literate, illiterate, etc.

Some of the consumer traits affecting media selection are described below:

(a) Age – For advertising for kids-products, television is the best for communicating message. In T.V. ad can be given in cartoon channels. If target audience is young then television, magazines, internet is suitable. If target audience consists of old age-group, then newspaper, television will be good choice.

(b) Level of Education – If target-audience is highly educated, then advertisement should be given in magazines, national newspapers, internet, television etc. If target audiences are less educated as in rural area then local newspapers printed in local languages, T.V. etc. are suitable. If audiences are illiterate, then print-media is not suitable. Here broadcast media is a good choice.

(c) Number of Customers – If number of target customers is more, then mass-media like television, newspaper will be suitable. If number of target customers is less, then direct mail- media, tele-advertising (advertising through telephone) are suitable.

Factor # 3. Distribution of Product:

If the product is to be distributed locally or regionally, then media with local coverage and reach should be considered like local newspaper, cable-network, etc. If product is distributed on national level, then media with national coverage like national dailies (newspaper), national-level T.V. channels will be suitable. If the product is to be sold at international level, then media having reach and circulation in foreign countries will be effective e.g. internet, magazines with circulation in foreign countries, T.V. channels having international coverage like B.B.C., CNN should be considered.

Factor # 4. Advertising Objectives:

The main objective of every advertising campaign is to get favourable response from customer, but the specific objectives can be different. If the objectives of advertising campaign are to get immediate result then fast media of communication like newspapers, banners, pamphlets will be considered. If the objective of advertising is to build corporate-goodwill and brand-equity, then magazines, television, neon signboards will be considered.

Factor # 5. Nature of Message:

If advertising message is informative in nature, then newspaper will be suitable. If ad- message is to persuade consumers, and potential consumers need to be given emotional-appeal, rational-appeal, demonstration of product, then television media will be suitable for advertising. If ad-message is to inform the potential customers of sale-promotion schemes, discount offers, exchange offer, festival offers, then it can be advertised through posters, banners, newspaper-inserts and newspapers, etc.

Factor # 6. Size of Ad-Budget:

If amount of advertisement budget is more, then costly media like television, national dailies can be selected. If amount of ad-budget is less, then low cost media like posters, banners, cable-network, local newspaper, pamphlets will be suitable.

Factor # 7. Media Used by Competitors:

While planning for media the advertiser must consider the media used by competitors and leaders of that industry. If advertiser does not consider competitor’s move regarding media, then it is possible that advertiser’s market share is taken by competition. If industry-leader is using T.V. as media, then the advertiser too must consider the same media. The advertiser must have a close watch on media-strategies and ad-budget of competitors. However, competitor’s strategies should not be followed blindly, as it is possible that decision of competitor is wrong.

Factor # 8. Media Availability:

Sometimes it is possible that desired space for advertisements in print media is booked by some other advertisers and hence not available. For example, advertiser wants to issue an advertisement on front page of newspaper or on the cover-page of any magazine, but this space is already booked by some other advertiser, then this media is not available to the advertiser.

So the advertiser will have to plan for some other media or he will have to change timing of advertisement. Similarly if an advertisement is to be issued on television during a particular programme, then it is possible that it may have been booked/sponsored by other advertisers. So media-availability must be considered for media planning.

Factor # 9. Media Reach and Coverage:

Such media should be selected as has wide reach and can cover our target customers. If the advertiser has two available media, involving same cost, then media with more reach and coverage of our target audience will be selected. Media reach means total circulation/viewership of media in a given period of time, (say, one day). If ad is given on T.V., then expected audience size of that T.V. programme in which ad is issued, in a given period of time is called its reach. It measures the number of persons who are exposed at least once to this media in a specific period of time.

For example, if advertisement is issued on newspaper, then number of copies circulated in a given period of time (say, a day) will be called its reach. Media- coverage means number of advertiser’s target customers exposed to media in a specific time- period.

It is possible that reach of a media is large, but its coverage for advertiser is poor, i.e. the media has wide circulation, but it is not popular among the target customers of advertiser. So such media is not of much use to the advertiser. The advertiser should select that media whose reach and coverage, both are large. For improving coverage of target customers, advertisers generally use combination of media (media-mix).

Factor # 10. Media Frequency:

Media frequency refers to average number of times, the audience is exposed to media- vehicle in a specified period of time. Higher media-frequency is preferred. Greater the frequency, more are the chances of advertisement message making deep impression on the minds of consumers. In case of print media, frequency of newspaper is very less as the receiver is not exposed to the same newspaper for a long period of time.

On the next day he will be getting the new newspaper and old newspaper will be discarded the same day. In case of magazine, media-frequency is more as same magazine may be opened by audience many a time, as he will get the next issue of magazine after a month, a fortnight or after a week. Higher frequency will create better impressions on target audience. So, media with higher frequency should be selected.

Factor # 11. Media Image:

Some media-vehicles enjoy better image in comparison to other media vehicles. Media- image enhances the communication value of advertisement. Good reputation of editorial board and well established media enjoy better image among public, so advertisements given in such media enhance the credibility and trust of advertisements. So media with good image should be selected. Media image also affects the product image and advertiser’s image. So, we should not select media with bad image.

Factor # 12. Media Discount:

Sometimes some media offer attractive discount schemes. The advertisers consider these discount schemes while selecting media as it reduces their media cost. Sometimes some advertisers use only one medium or one class of media regularly so as to get media discount offered by media to their regular users.

Factor # 13. Language:

The advertiser selects that media which communicates in the language well known to our target customers. Like if ad is given for less educated customers, then ad in English newspaper will be of little use.


Media Planning – Importance

Media planning helps the advertiser in selecting most appropriate media, media mix, and in deciding time and space in various media so that available resources can be utilized in an optimum manner. Media planning helps to control wasteful advertising. In the absence of media planning the advertiser may select inappropriate media, or may issue the advertisement at the wrong time and thus the advertising message may not reach the largest audience. It will result in wasteful advertising.

The importance of media-planning is described below:

1. Optimum Utilisation of Resources:

Advertising involves huge cost. Through media planning, the advertiser can use available resources in an optimum manner. In media planning, such combination of media is selected and such time is selected, that helps the advertiser in communicating the advertising message to largest number of target audience at lowest possible cost. In the absence of media planning, the advertiser may select costly media which may not have good coverage of target audience.

2. Helps in Achieving Advertising Objectives:

Media plan is a part of overall advertising plan. Media planning is designed so as to achieve marketing and advertising objectives of the organisation. Media planning includes all such decisions like selecting appropriate media, appropriate media mix and deciding the scheduling of advertisement. All these decisions help the organization in achieving advertising objectives, i.e. to communicate the message to target audience and thus to promote sales.

3. Selection of Appropriate Media:

In media planning, different media are compared on the basis of cost per reader, cost per viewer, media-image, media-coverage, media-rating etc. While selecting media the advertiser ensures that selected media matches with the features of target audience.

For example, if our target audience are teenagers, then television will be appropriate media; if target audience are literate, then print-media can be selected; if target audience is a specific professional group, then professional journals and magazines will be appropriate media. Media planning also ensures that selected media is as per the message requirements e.g. if message involves demonstration, the media with audio-visual effects (viz. T.V.) will be selected.

4. Selection of Optimum Media Mix:

Media planning helps to select optimum media mix. Using different media combination ensures wide and intensive coverage of target audience. It improves the chances of achieving advertising objectives. A single media may not ensure communication with all the target audience. A well planned media mix ensures wide coverage of target audience at minimum cost.

5. Helps in Allocating Advertising Budget:

Media planning helps to decide the amount to be spent on different media. It helps the advertising manager in allocating the ad-budget among different media types/media vehicles. Media plan decides the optimum media mix; this helps the advertising manager in allocating the total ad-budget on different media in a scientific manner.

6. Ensures Appropriate Timing of Advertising:

Advertising can ensure best results only when ads are shown at the right time. Media planning includes media scheduling i.e. it decides the time and space of advertisement in media. It decides the month, day and time of advertisement. It ensures that advertisement is shown more frequently in seasonal months and less frequently in off-season months. It also ensures that advertisement is shown at that time when more target audience can be contacted e.g. if ad is for school going kids, it is not shown in the morning or before noon time.

7. Helps in Controlling:

In media plan some standards of performance are fixed. These standards are with regard to coverage of target audience. Such standards help the management in evaluating the effectiveness of media, i.e. actual coverage is in accordance with the standards or not. If coverage is less than standard, then it points to the inefficiency of media. So in future, advertising manager can think of some other media type/media vehicle. Or take other necessary action. Thus, media planning helps in exercising control over media.


Media Planning – Steps involved in the Media Planning Process

Following are the steps which are involved in media planning are:

Step # 1. Market Analysis:

Every media plan begins with the market analysis of environmental analysis. Complete review of internal and external factors is required to be done.

At this stage media planners try to identify answers of the following questions:

i. Identification of the Target Audience:

Which is the audience for our product? This happens to be the most important consideration in the media decisions. We first examine our market plans and advertising plans. These provide us details about the audience for our product.

Detailed studies of our audience can be made. We can describe our audience in terms of age, religion, sex, education – these are demographic characteristics. We can describe it in terms of their income and occupation.

Audience can also be described in psychographic terms – activities, interests, opinions forming a lifestyle, personality traits, brand preferences. After having a complete picture of our target audience, we undertake the study of the media’s readership in terms of demographic, economic and psychographic terms.

Agencies conduct their own media research. Even media itself provides a demographic profile of their readers. There are readership surveys to guide us. We have to select those media vehicles whose demographic profile matches the target audience of our product. We can target our product to a segment of the market.

Then we have to select that media vehicle which reaches this segment. We may have to use another media vehicle to reach some other segment. It should, however, be seen that a united image is projected and consistency of message is maintained through different media mix.

The target audience can be classified in terms of age, sex, income, occupation and other variables. The classification of target audience helps media planner to understand the media consumption habit, and accordingly choose the most appropriate media or media mix. Different customers differ with regard to age, income, education level, personality, attitude etc. If target audience or customers are educated and young, print media and T.V., can be selected. If number of target customers is more, then mass-media like, T.V., Newspapers will be suitable.

ii. Study of Factors Affecting Media Planning:

There are various factors which affect media planning.

While making media planning, the media-planner must consider these factors which are described as follows:

(a) Internal Factors – Internal factors are those factors which are directly related to company like size of company, advertising budget, size of organization, distribution strategy of organization, potential market area etc. Advertising budget is very important factor, while selecting media planning. If size of ad-budget is more, then costly media like T.V. can be selected. If size of ad budget is small, the cheap media will be selected.

(b) External Factors – External factors includes media coverage, media image, media adopted by competitors etc. while selecting the media, the advertiser must consider the media selected by competitors and leaders of that industry. Along with cost of various media should be compared.

iii. Identifying the Geographical Area:

Total geographical area of target market is identified. Those areas, where the sale of the company’s product is more, are identified. For low potential market area, smaller advertising budget is allocated. The geographical area also includes whether advertising should be done at local level or national level or international level.

Step # 2. Message Distribution:

The first step in the setting up of objectives was the definition of the target audience. The next step is the distribution of message to this audience. The number of messages and the frequency of their appearance matter a lot.

We have to decide whether a single message is sufficient or there should be several repetitions of the same. These lead us to the concepts of reach and frequency, which are to be balanced.

The overall constraint on both these concepts is the advertising budget. We also have to calculate the total message weight of the campaign.

i. Reach:

Reach indicates a percentage of target audience who is exposed at least once in a given period to a particular media vehicle. It does not matter how many times they actually see or hear the ad message.

We concentrate on one exposure only. Thus, if 3,000 out of a target audience of 10,000 teenagers tune into the FM radio one or more times during a month, the reach is 30 per cent, i.e., 3,000 divided by 10,000.

Though reach measures exposure, it does not actually measure those who have noticed a particular ad. The objective of reaching 30 p.c. of target audience is based on the people who tune in radio FM, irrespective of the fact whether these people have taken cognizance of our ad.

It is a term that is used for all media (print, TV, radio) and indicates the number of people who are actually exposed to the medium in a given period which is normally linked to the periodicity of the medium.

While deciding about the reach, the time period selected is either four weeks or corresponds to the purchase cycle of the product.

ii. Frequency:

Frequency indicates the number of times people in the target audience are exposed to a media vehicle during a given period of time. Average frequency gives the average number of times people or households in our target audience are exposed to a media vehicle.

In our example, we reach 3,000 people 4½ times on an average. It does not necessarily mean that everyone has 4.5 exposures. It is just an average.

Generally, a single exposure may not work either in creating an awareness or provoking someone to buy. The more the exposures, the better the impact. Besides, more exposures make us rise above the competitive noise. It is good to plan how many we would like our audience to see the message in a given medium.

While introducing a new product more frequency. When the ad size is small, we need more frequency. When the message is complex, we need more fre­quency. Higher frequency helps us stand out in the clutter.

We have to decide the effective frequency-it is not frequency which is needed to communicate effectively with the target audience. It is a difficult thing to settle. There can be a minimum frequency and maximum frequency to be effective.

Lesser frequency makes the communication ineffective. Higher frequency may be a waste of ad resources. There can be also ad fatigue if there are too many repetitions.

While we talk of effective frequency to set the least number of exposures needed, we also consider effective reach to indicate the percentage of the target audience exposed to the ad, some minimum number of times or more. This adds the dimension of repetition to the concept of reach and frequency.

Greater reach and frequency stretches the media budget. It is necessary to optimise both reach and frequency. Balancing is difficult especially when two or more ads are being employed or two or more media are being used. We have, therefore, to consider the message weight of the entire media plan.  

iii. Message Weight:

The sum of the reach number of specific media vehicles in a given media plan gives the message weight. Here, while summing the reach, duplication or overlapping is ignored. Message weight is expressed in terms of gross impressions or gross rating points (GRP).

Gross impressions are a summation of exposures of the target audience to media vehicles in a media plan. Each exposure is counted as one impression. Suppose an advertiser puts advertisements on a programme of a TV channel viewed five times by 6,000 people in the target audience and seven times by 6,000 people in a four weeks period.

Also suppose during the same four weeks period, the ad is put on another programme of a second TV channel viewed 3 times by 3,000 people in the target audience, the gross impressions would be –

The first group receives 30,000 impressions, the second group receives 42,000 impressions and the third group re­ceives 9,000 impressions. Thus, in all 81,000 impressions are received during a four weeks period. As duplication is ignored between the media vehicles while summing up the impressions, we use the term gross.

For a mass media like a TV channel, message weight is expressed in gross rating points (GRPs). It is a sum of the rating points of all programmes in the TV media plan. One rating point indicates one per cent of the target audience. GRPs of the entire media plan are given by –

In the example given for gross impressions, the total target audience was 20,000. The audience reached was 15,000. In other words, it was 75 per cent. The average frequency was (81,000 ÷ 15,000) = 5.4. So the GRPs would be –

GRPs for TV are calculated generally for a week or a month. Television Rating Points in (TRPs) are available in India calculated on the basis of the panel method. The ultimate business of TV is to deliver the eyeballs. It is obviously an issue of audience share. Gross impressions in print media are counted for every ad in every media vehicle used during the whole campaign.

There should be an attempt in the media objectives to balance the reach and frequency. There should be an appropriate message weight at the same time. This will help us realise our advertising plan. To face a heavy competitive campaign, we should have greater frequency to ensure the repetition of the message.

It is not so important to have a wider reach. While advertising an innovation, a greater reach is preferred to a greater frequency. It is also important to have a large message weight. Once the media objectives are set, we are ready to develop strategies to realise them.

Step # 3. Selecting Suitable Media:

For selecting appropriate media, different media are compared on the basis of cost per reader, cost per viewer, media-image, etc. While selecting media, the advertiser should ensure that media matches with features of target audience. The selected media should match with message-requirements, e.g. If message involves demonstration, then media with audio visual effects will be selected. While selecting suitable media, availability of media should also be kept in mind. It is possible that a particular media suits our requirements, but it is already booked, so some other media will have to be selected.

Step # 4. Selecting Optimum Media-Mix:

If the advertiser feels that no single media is sufficient in itself in achieving advertising objectives then different media can be used in combination and their optimum mix is decided by the advertiser. By combining different media, advertiser can increase coverage and improve the chances of achieving advertising goals. Overall ad-budget also influences the ration of different elements of media mix.

For example, to achieve advertising objectives and after considering advertising budget, the advertiser may decide a mix of 45% television, 20% newspaper, 10% magazine, 15% outdoor media and 10% internet media. Different advertisers may decide different media-mix depending upon their requirements, but media-mix should be such that advertiser can communicate advertising-message to the target audience most effectively and at lowest possible cost.

Step # 5. Selecting Suitable Media Vehicle within Each Selected Media:

After selecting media, appropriate media vehicles are to be selected. For example, after deciding that advertising is to be done through newspaper, it is decided that in which newspaper it is be done-whether through Indian Express, Tribune, or Hindustan Times, etc.

If it is decided that advertising is to be done through magazine, then out of various magazines, appropriate magazine/magazines are selected. If advertising is to be done through television, then it is decided that at which T.V. channel or in which T.V. programme advertisement is to be given. Suitable media vehicles are selected to attain media objectives.

Step # 6. Media Scheduling:

In media scheduling, decisions regarding date or time when these advertisements are to be shown are taken. In media-scheduling, time-gap in two advertisements is also decided. Purpose of media-scheduling is to issue advertisements at appropriate time with appropriate frequency so that target audience can be contacted at minimum advertising cost.

It helps to control wasteful advertising expenses. If advertisement is related to product to be used by school/college going children, then it is better to show the advertisement in the evening time in T.V. programmes. If the product is of seasonal nature, then ad should be shown more frequently in the season period and less frequently in the off season period.

Step # 7. Executing Advertising Programme:

After selecting media and deciding its schedule, advertising department is given the task of designing suitable advertising copy and executing it in the selected media. Some companies assign this task of designing advertising to professional advertising agencies.

Step # 8. Follow-Up and Evaluation:

After implementing advertising programme, advertiser evaluates its effectiveness to know whether media objectives have been achieved, whether media-plan has contributed in achieving overall advertising-objectives. Answers to these questions help the advertiser to know success or failure of media strategy. If our media strategy is not effective, then corrective actions will be taken for future media planning, so that in future, better media-plans can be made.


Media Planning – What is Media Plan: Meaning, Concept and Implementation

We can understand a media plan if we know the terms used. Some terms are common to all media, whereas some are applied to the broadcast or print media only.

We have to appreciate that all ads are not seen or noticed by the audiences. There is always an element of wastage. TV viewers may switch to some other programme, or may abandon viewing to pursue some other activity. Sometimes, they may just ignore the ad.

Magazine readers do not see, and read every ad. It means that the measurement of the total audience to which media reach is not an accurate measure of reaching the prospect. It just indicates an opportunity to communicate.

Some Basic Concepts:

Cost Per Thousand (CPM) is the cost of reaching 1,000 households, or men or women or left-handed batsmen. CPM is a comparative measure to judge the efficiency of the media.

If a TV commercial costs Rs. 1,00,000 and reaches 1 crore homes, the CPM is Rs. 10 ( Rs. 1 lakh divided by 1 crore or one thousand part of 1 crore). Mathematically the CPM formula is –

Reach is the number of different units who have the opportunity of being exposed to an ad message at least once. It is also expressed as net audience or unduplicated audience.

A media plan that reaches to eight out of 10 homes has a reach of 80. Frequency is the number of times the message is heard or seen in a defined period of time. It is generally expressed as an average. Reach and frequency are measured together over the same time period, usually four weeks.

Frequency distribution is related to the exact number of times the individuals are exposed to an ad message in a schedule.

A frequency of 12 may be necessary to reach heavy viewers, while just 1 or 2 exposures may enable us to reach light viewers.

Impressions indicate the total number of messages delivered by a media plan, whatever be the media used. Mathemati­cally, it means the number of people who see at least one message multiplied by the number of times they see it.

Share of voice is a brand’s per cent of impressions in a category as compared to its competitors.

Broadcast Media Concepts:

Rating is given on the basis of the per cent of homes or individuals tuning to the programmer. If 4 out of 10 homes are tuned to a programme, it has a rating of 40.

Gross Rating Points (GRPs) is the total of all rating points given by a specific media schedule or campaign.

A media plan with five 60-rated programmes delivers 300 GRPs.

They should be kept in mind in order to arrive at an appropriate plan are as follows:

(i) Reach:

The number of people, households, or businesses in a target audience exposed to media vehicle or message schedule at least once during a given time period is called as ‘Reach’ of media. A time period is normally four weeks. Thus, Reach is the number of people that are given the message.

In other words, how many targeted buyers did the ad reach within a specific time period. It is often expressed as a percentage. If an advertisement placed on the hit network television program like Big boss is watched at least once by 10% of the advertiser’s target audience, then the reach is said to be 10%. Effective Reach concept is based on the assumption that one exposure to an ad may not be enough to convey the desired message.

Represents the percentage of a vehicle’s audience reached at each effective frequency increment. Fewer than 3 exposures are considered insufficient reach, while more than 10 is considered overexposure and thus ineffective reach. This exposure level is no guarantee of effective communication; different messages may require more of fewer exposures.

(ii) Frequency:

The average number of times an individual or household within a target audience is exposed to a media vehicle in a given period of time (typically a week or a month) is termed as frequency. For example, an advertiser places an ad on a weekly television show with a 25 rating (25% of households) four weeks in a row.

The show has an (unduplicated) reach of 50% over the four-week period. So, frequency is then equal to (25 x 4)/50, or 2. This means that an audience member had the opportunity to see the ad an average of 2 times.

(iii) Effective Frequency:

Many factors affect the level of effective frequency. Effective frequency is the number of times a target audience needs to be exposed to a message before the objectives of the advertiser are met either communications objectives or sales impact.

(iv) Reach versus Frequency:

When reach and frequency is multiplied, one gets what is known as the gross exposure to a given campaign. This is the trade-off between reach and points towards opportunities to employ timing in the media plan.

It stands to reason that for a finite amount of advertising expenditure over the mass media, reach and frequency have an inverse relationship with each other. In other words, if one tries to maximize reach, frequency gets compromised. If on the other hand one maximizes frequency, reach will get compromised.

There are two important ratios:

(a) Target Ratings Points (TRPs):

It is the number of times (frequency) and the number of individuals in the primary target audience that the media will reach. The data are collected on a weekly basis by a panel of a large number of adults. Each member records the TV viewer ship data of different programmes in a diary given to each panel member.

(b) Gross Ratings Points (GRPs):

It indicates the number of potential audience members are likely to be exposed to a series of commercials it is indicated by this. It combines programme rating and the average number of times the household is reached during the advertising cycle.

It is a measure of frequency of exposure and is expressed as:

GRP = Reach x Frequency

(v) Continuity:

The continuity is the entire dimension of timing, whether the media are scheduled continuously or in separated periods. The message maybe scheduled every­day throughout the period of advertising or maybe heavily concentrated in the first three weeks or the latter part of the period.

Continuity is a function of the media schedule and is a measure of regularity of the advertising effort. Continuity relates to the timing of media insertions. The continuity of an advertisement will be high during the festival seasons.

Insurance companies issue reminder ads in the first week of the month because people get the salary in the first week of the month. Continuity or scheduling is defined as the determination of the time when each items of preparation and execution should be performed.

Also, Continuity is the exposure pattern or schedule used in the ad campaign.

The three types of patterns used in this are as follows:

(a) Continuous:

When the advertisement is scheduled to run throughout the year, it is called continuous option. Product that are of daily use, having regular demand and continuously sold make use of this strategy. Consequently, the advertising expenditure is also evenly distributed among different months throughout the year.

(b) Pulsing:

In this strategy, advertisement will run throughout the year. But at certain time period, ad expenses will be less and at other time period, ad would be more expensive. This strategy is a combination of first two options. In this option continuity of advertising is made, but the amounts of ad expenses are not same throughout the year.

(c) Flighting:

This strategy refers to advertising in time gaps. At some time periods, there are heavier advertising and at other time there is no advertising, i.e., advertising in a certain period and advertising not at all in another period. This strategy is adopted by companies for selling seasonal and festival related products.

Implementation of the Media Plan:

The media strategy needs approval of both the agency and the client. After this, it is put into action.

A media plan has the following components:

(i) Media objectives

(ii) Situational analysis

(iii) Media strategy

(iv) Media schedule and budget.

The agency can summarise the whole plan in an overview. An alternative media plan can be developed. Media plan facilitates the implementation of the media strategy. Maybe, an advertiser uses several agencies for different products. Media buying is then assigned to an Agency of Record (AOR).

AOR buys all the space and time for the client by doing negotiations with the media. Media buyers are important even when there is no AOR. They actually implement the media plan. They take advantage of media offers. They see that the ads are run as per schedule.

Professional media planning started here in the late 70s and early 80s with NRS-II and NRS-III. TV as a medium did show tremendous growth, and programme viewership came to be measured by IMRB-TRP.

That gave a boost to media planning. With the advent of satellite TV, media planning became challenging. The people-meter based TRP system came into being. In ad agencies, formerly the key function was client servicing that dealt with all non-media issues.

These days, however, media services have become equally important. It takes care of all media issues. In the complex ad world of today, the clients have a high awareness of media and they have become media-literate. The need for media services is thus, felt much more.


Media Planning – 9 Main Problems (With Some Other Challenges Faced in Media Planning)

Media planning is a complex task and it requires a lot of skill. Media planning requires lot of information about market, target customers, various media, etc. Moreover, data used in media planning like cost per reader, cost per viewer, media rating is continuously changing. Selection of media, media mix, media scheduling etc. involves various difficulties.

The main problems in media planning are as follows:

1. Insufficient Information:

Media planning requires lot of information regarding nature of target customers like their age, education level, their geographical concentration, their size, etc. It also needs information about competitors, media strategies of competitors; information about media like their rates, Image, rating etc. Collecting all such information is a tedious job. Sampling technique is used for collecting all such information. If this information is not sufficient or is incorrect then whole process of media planning will fail.

2. Time Pressure:

Sometimes environment changes are sudden and quick. These sudden changes require immediate decisions regarding advertisements. In such case, media planning decisions are made without proper analysis of various factors affecting media planning e.g. change in media strategies of our immediate competitor requires immediate counter media strategies. It exerts a lot of time pressure on media-planners, to take quick decisions. So decisions taken in a hurry may be wrong.

It is difficult to assess the effectiveness of a particular media for con­veying relevant message through the media. The reach of the media to the target audience cannot be measured accurately. The study regarding the readership or exposure to the viewers are conducted only for a limited period and the limited study cannot reflect the total effect of exposure; through a medium.

3. Difficulty in Audience Measurement:

Audience measurement here refers to number of persons who are exposed to a particular media. It is very difficult to measure the number of audience of any media especially broadcast media. For example, it is very difficult to ascertain how many persons watch a particular television programme. If the number of viewers of a media is ascertained, even then it is very difficult to ascertain the number of target audience out of total number of viewers. Audience measurements are a key element in selecting media. In the absence of this information, media planning may be wrong.

4. Difficulty in Cost Comparison:

While evaluating the relative effectiveness of different media, cost comparison of different media is done. But cost of different media is available on different basis. Like in case of print media, cost per word or per square centimetre is known; in case of broadcast media, cost per second is known, in case of outdoor media, cost per sign board/sky balloon, etc. is known. All these costs are on different basis. Hence, cost comparison of different media is very difficult. In the absence of proper cost comparison, selection of appropriate media is difficult.

5. Changing Environment Factors:

Media planning is a continuous process. Data used in media planning is affected by external environment factors, these environment factors may change at any time. For example, if at present a particular T.V. programme is very popular, but soon its popularity may decline with the launch of another popular T.V. programme at the same time in another T.V. channel. So the viewership of first T.V. programme may decline. Similarly, other environment factors viz. competitors’ media strategy may change. These fast changing environment factors may render the media planning less effective.

6. Media Decisions Based on Guess Work:

All media decisions are not quantitatively determined. Many media decisions are based on judgment of ad-manager e.g. mangers have to make guess regarding image of a particular media in the market. Sometimes these guess works are made without adequate analysis. So these guess works may be wrong.

7. Inadequate Expertise:

The work of media planning requires the services of talented, experienced and skilled ad- mangers. If the ad-manager does not have sufficient exposure, knowledge, experience, talent then media decisions may go wrong.

8. Confusions Regarding Different Terminologies:

Different terms are used for measuring different forms of media. It is difficult to measure the total effect of the advertisements, focused through different media. For example, in print media the effectiveness is calcu­lated on the basis of cost to reach a thousand people i.e., cost per thousand or CPM.

In broadcast media like TV or radio, the effectiveness is calcu­lated on the basis of cost per ratings point or CPRP. But the media planner should be interested to know the reach and the coverage of a particular medium to assess the ultimate effectiveness of the exposures.

9. Immediate Action:

Considering certain pressures, the advertiser sometimes may be compelled to release advertisements, through different media, without any proper media planning. Some situations like, in case of any important urgent announcement, any particular offer for a very limited period, to take advantage of certain eventualities etc. may inspire or compel the advertisers to release the advertisements through different media without proper planning.

Some Other Challenges to Media Planning:

Media planner’s assignment is just as critical as creative directors as he is responsible for millions of rupees/dollars spent by the client or the marketer. As complexity of the field increases, media decisions become more critical and the clients more demanding. Planners have to be more accountable and inform the marketer about all possible media options to be executed. There are some reasons for media planning becoming more challenging and complicated than what it was a few years before.

1. Increasing Media Options Increases Audience Fragmentation:

In the modern era, many media are available to choose from and each offers more choices. There were times when advertisers could ensure a big audience by simply advertising on Radio or TV. Today it is difficult to reach a big audience even though people spend more hours with media than ever before because there is too much to keep track of and too many things to explore. TV is fragmented into network, syndicated, local and on demand, as well as cable.

Specialized magazines aim at all possible audience and business segment. National magazines publish articles for particular regions or demographic groups. Finally, internet has brought many new media options. Companies spend a sizeable budget on specialized communications like direct marketing, sales promotion, personal selling, public relations etc. The proliferation of toll free numbers, e-mail, websites and now social media makes it easy and cost effective to facilitate consumer feedback. Media is no longer planned and bought, it is created and aggregated and even partnered.

2. Cost of Reaching Audience is Increasing:

People can cope with only a limited number of messages, so the media have to restrict the number of acts they sell. As a result, the cost of reaching target audience is increasing for almost all media. Increasing costs make media planning more challenging than even before, and especially for the small budget advertisers.

3. Increasing Completion:

Competitive environment has completely changed the structure of advertising business. In the older times, independent firms bought advertising space and time at lower bulk rates and then sold it at higher bulk rate or for a handling commission to advertisers or ad agencies that did not have a fully staffed media department. As the media specialists grew, client have realized the virtue of scale, the financial clout emerged as weapon in negotiating media buys.

To respond to the competitive pressure, ad agencies started having their own media department. They set them up as separate media specialist subsidiaries. They could compete with independents as well as other agencies for media accounts. Gradually, these firms became media experts where clients poured in money and made them more competitive with new research tools.

Major giants like Proctor and Gamble realized that they could receive greater impact from their advertisement by consolidating their media budgets within a single large always. Thus, big media shops started winning big accounts and smaller companies could not afford them.

4. Increasing Complexity in Media Buying and Selling:

Both the buying and selling of media has become more complex in today’s environment. In a constant battle for additional sales, many print and broadcast companies came out with ‘value added’ programs to provide extra benefits. These companies offer space or time at rate card prices or below, they offer reprints, merchandizing services, event sponsorship and mailing lists also.

Value added packages are given by media sellers to big companies where they take bigger share of their advertising budget. As the big media shops are winning big accounts, the large agency holding companies are acquiring them and at times merging them with their own subsidiaries and relaunching them as global media firms. Thus, agencies are back in control of media budgets in almost all parts the globe.


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