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ADVERTISING MEDIA PLANNING
By JACK Z. SISSORS ROGER B. BARON
McGraw-HillCopyright © 2010 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIntroduction to Media Planning The Art of Matching Media to the Advertiser's Marketing Needs
It was the client's annual advertising review at a large Midwestern advertising agency. The creative team was presenting digital animatics of the new campaign from the flat-screen monitor on the wall. The media director was glancing at the BlackBerry in his lap below the table, waiting for a response from ESPN about the base package for this client. The light in the corner was still blinking green as the creative director finished up, but he could see from the smile on the client's face that it was a success. The creative director had sold the campaign. Now it was media's turn.
The client turned to the media director and said, "This creative is great. Now I want to know how you're going to spend the $100 million I'm giving you so my customers will see it. I want to know what my competition is doing, who you are targeting, what media you are going to use and why, where it will run, and when it will run. I want to know how many of the target audience will see the campaign and how often they will see it. But mainly, I want to see how you plan to creatively integrate this campaign across all the different platforms we have today—the conventional TV set, the PC, the online search, and the mobile, social, and other opportunities from emerging media that didn't exist just a few years ago. If you make a good case, I'll authorize the $100 million. So let's see your media plan."
A bit overdrawn perhaps, but it is the job of the media planner to answer these questions and to develop a plan that delivers the creative message to the target as effectively and efficiently as possible. It is a fascinating job that combines marketing, psychology, show business, law, research, technology, and the planner's sensitive, creative insights into the human condition. It has the planner playing the dual roles of both salesperson and client—sometimes alternating between the two from one minute to the next. In the sales role, planners must convince the advertiser and his or her own agency team that they have developed the most effective media plan. Then with a ring of the telephone, a planner becomes the client of the media sales representatives who want their website, cable television network, magazine, or other medium included on the plan—that is, included so they receive an order for some of that $100 million budget. These are the outward manifestations of the core job of the media planner: to make the most effective use of the advertiser's media budget.
Media: A Message Delivery System
Media exist primarily to deliver message content—entertainment, information, and advertisements to a vast audience. Media should be thought of as both carriers and delivery systems. They carry advertisements and deliver them to individuals who buy or choose media first on the basis of the kind and quality of entertainment and information and second on the kinds of advertisements they deliver. Advertisers find media to be convenient and relatively inexpensive delivery systems compared to direct mail or other channels that do not carry entertainment and information.
This definition applies to online media as well as traditional mass media—the banner ads on websites and the sponsored links that accompany paid search keywords serve the same function as the commercials and printed advertising that accompany information and entertainment in traditional media.
It is important to recognize that consumers have specialized needs that media can meet, such as providing information about certain kinds of products and brands. Readers can browse a magazine or newspaper, stopping to look at any advertisement that seems interesting. When there is a clear need for information, 15 minutes spent with Google, Bing, Wikipedia, and the other search engines will give a person top-line knowledge about any topic on earth.
Advertisers who want to reach both a mass and a specialized audience find it is more expensive to buy media that reach the specialized audience. However, no matter which kind of audience advertisers want to reach, it is imperative that someone plans the purchase of media as far ahead of publishing or broadcast dates as possible. Advertisers cannot afford to buy media impulsively or capriciously. Therefore, the planning function is a major operation in advertising and media agencies and at client companies. There is too much money involved to not plan ahead of time, and this book concentrates on the planning function.
Two words are sometimes used as if they mean the same thing: medium (the plural is media) and vehicle. They are not exactly the same. A medium refers to a class of carriers such as television, newspapers, magazines, and so on. In other words, it refers to a group of carriers that have similar characteristics. A vehicle is an individual carrier within a medium. For example, the website CNN.com is a vehicle within the online medium. "60 Minutes" is a vehicle within television. Martha Stewart Living and People are vehicles within the magazine medium.
Media planning consists of the series of decisions made to answer the question, "What are the best means of delivering advertisements to prospective purchasers of my brand or service?" This definition is rather general, but it provides a broad picture of what media planning is all about.
A media planner attempts to answer the following specific questions:
How many prospects (for purchasing a given brand of product) do I need or can I afford to reach?
In which media should I place ads?
How many times a month should prospects see each ad?
During which months should ads appear?
Where should the ads appear? In which markets and regions?
How much money should be spent in each medium?
When all the questions have been asked and the decisions made, the recommendations and rationales are organized into a presentation (usually PowerPoint) and a written document called a media plan. The plan, when approved by the advertiser, becomes a blueprint for the selection and use of media. Once the advertiser has approved the plan, it also serves as a guide for actually purchasing the media.
It would be a mistake, however, to think of media planning as nothing more than finding answers to a list of questions about media. Such a view is too narrow to provide the necessary perspective. Rather, it is better to assume that each question represents certain kinds of problems that need to be solved. Some problems are relatively simple, such as, "On which day of the week should television commercials be shown?" Other problems are much more difficult, such as, "In which media will ads most affect the prospect's buying behavior, resulting in the most additional sales?"
Media planning should be thought of as a process or a series of decisions that provides the best possible answers to a set of problems. It is the planner's recommended way to balance the many trade-offs within a given budget. A planner might find that a recommended solution to a given marketing problem does not make sense when other factors are considered. Finding the best solutions to a set of marketing problems represents the main task of planners. That is what makes media planning such an intellectually challenging activity. In a sense, media planners are marketing professionals with media expertise.
The Changing Face of Media Planning
Some marketers believe the traditional media forms such as television, newspapers, magazines, and radio are passé. This is a mistake. Although the Internet as a whole is now accessible to 86 percent of the U.S. population, its fragmentation across thousands of sites (the so-called Long Tail) makes it costly to deliver advertising to large numbers of people with enough frequency to communicate the message. Mass media, especially the top-rated television programs and large-circulation magazines such as People, continue to define popular culture in the United States and in the world. Mass media are essential to create broad awareness of new products and services and to reinforce awareness of existing brands. But today's consumers want more information than can be communicated with the traditional media. Because they expect to get this information from the Internet, marketing plans must consider how this medium, and especially search tools such as Google and Bing, will be used to build on the awareness that has been created with mass advertising.
At the same time, advertisers want to reinforce awareness with frequent brand mentions in media that are part of the target audience's daily life. Exhibit 1-1 on pages 6—7 presents the example of Coors Light's use of ESPN cable television, ESPN: The Magazine, mobile advertising on cell phones, and online exposure to men of legal drinking age during the annual personnel draft of the National Football League (NFL).
Traditionally, media planning has asked questions revolving around how media can reach the right persons. The "right" persons came from broadly aggregated data, such as "women ages 18–49" or "men ages 25–54." But these broad demographic characterizations were developed to accommodate the sale of broadcast media, radio, and television, where the available research dictates that age and gender demographics are the currency of a buy. They obscure an almost unlimited array of lifestyles, interests, and even media habits that are relevant to marketers if they want to deliver advertising to their best prospects. Today's media planning requires planners to identify smaller groups of product users and the media that best reach them. Online advertisers can use behavioral targeting to direct ads to people who visit related websites. Sponsored search on Google and many other venues allows delivery of advertising to people who, by definition, have shown an interest in a product or service.
Technology has made it economical to deliver program content that appeals to smaller and smaller groups of people. Audience fragmentation has become the dominant characteristic of media, especially television, in the 21st century. Today the average home can receive 119 channels, up from 61 channels in 2000. Cable television networks, delivered either by wire or by satellite, can now be seen in 90 percent of U.S. households. This proliferation of viewing choices has significantly eroded the audience to the traditional broadcast networks, but total hours of viewing have remained essentially constant.
The result is a splintering of the audience among channels whose content may or may not be relevant to advertisers. For example, marketers of vacation destinations will certainly advertise on the Travel Channel, but the majority of their customers never watch it. Although the target audience composition of the Travel Channel is very high (just about all the viewers are interested in travel), its coverage is very low—there are a great many travelers who never watch the Travel Channel. The planner's challenge is to develop a balanced plan that includes some vehicles that offer high coverage to ensure every product user will see the message, and others with high composition that will minimize waste. This coverage/composition tradeoff will be a recurring theme throughout this book.
The expansion of video content to pre-roll commercials before streaming video on the PC, mobile cell phones, and other platforms will further fragment the audience into hundreds, if not thousands, of video sources that reflect the media equivalent of what has been called the Long Tail. The term was first coined by Chris Anderson in a Wired magazine article in October 2004. It expresses the concept, exploited by Amazon.com and other online retailers, that business can make a profit by selling relatively small quantities of a large number of items, versus the traditional model that relies on quantity sales of a relatively short product line. Applied to media, it means that an advertiser needs to spread the message across many small channels to reach the widely scattered audience. The typical cable advertiser will buy time on 20 to 30 cable networks in addition to schedules on the broader-reach broadcast networks.
The Changing Role of Media Planners
As a result of technological advancements and audience fragmentation, the role of media planners has changed in advertising and media agencies. Today, media planning ranks in importance along with marketing and creative planning, but in the early days of advertising agency operations, media planning consisted of simple, clerical tasks. There were fewer media available in those days, and little research on media audiences had been done to guide planners in decision making.
Today, planning has become much more complex and important. Planners must have a greater knowledge base from which to formulate media plans. They not only must know more about media, which have increased tremendously in number over the past 10 years, but also must know how the media plan can contribute to the overall marketing plan. And most important, planners must have an almost intuitive sense of their target's life so they can select media that will expose the advertising at the most opportune time. This makes media planning today a more challenging, but also a far more creative, process than ever before.
Exhibit 1-2 presents a campaign created by McCann Erickson, Detroit, the ad agency for Travel Michigan (the state department responsible for promoting tourism to Michigan) as a good example of this. As part of a multimedia effort, the group ran advertising on the sides of tour buses in Chicago, knowing that people who visited the city would be good candidates for extending their vacation to include neighboring Michigan. Their marketing rationale follows:
At the heart of the Pure Michigan campaign is a simple idea: Your time off should feel a world away from your everyday life. Applying the idea to out-of- home gave the state of Michigan a powerful tool for drawing a contrast between daily life and the idealized vacation getaway: putting a little piece of Pure Michigan right in the middle of the everyday world. Whether alongside a suburban interstate, on a city wallscape, or wrapped around a downtown Chicago tour bus, each out-of-home ad showcases a glimpse of Michigan's natural beauty. This startling contrast creates an oasis-like feel in the middle of an ordinary day—giving consumers a sample of what their Michigan vacation will feel like.
What brought about this need for a broader knowledge base? Foremost was the rise of the marketing concept, which changed media planning from an isolated activity to one closely related to marketing planning. In fact, one way to evaluate a media plan is to measure how effectively it helps attain the advertiser's marketing objectives. Another cause of the change was the development of new and more definitive media audience research techniques. As a result, more research is available to help planners choose from myriad alternatives.
The change is also due to the universal availability of the Internet and low-cost, high-speed computers that make routine the physical acquisition and manipulation of vast amounts of data. The Microsoft Excel spreadsheet is the workbench that planners use to compare and cost out media alternatives. Planners are expected to have a thorough knowledge of this tool, including the most commonly used functions and the four methods of database management (sort, filter, subtotal, and pivot table). Finally, the Microsoft PowerPoint presentation system is used to develop the presentation that will ultimately sell the plan to the client.
Media planning, then, is not so much a matter of being able to answer such relatively simple questions as where to place advertisements or how many advertisements to run each week. It is a matter of proving that optimal decisions were made under a given set of marketing circumstances. Advertisers demand such explanations, and media planners must be able to provide them. Today's media planners have changed as requirements for planning have changed. The new planner must have a breadth of knowledge, marketing understanding, research familiarity, computer literacy, creative planning awareness, and media acumen to do the job competently. It is within this framework that media planning now takes place.
Classes of Media
Planners like to separate media into various classes as a form of shorthand for the capabilities and characteristics that derive from their physical form. Typically, planners identify traditional media, nontraditional media, online media, and specialized media. However, even these distinctions break down with the convergence of media forms. Video is displayed on three screens: the television set, the personal computer in the form of streaming video, and the mobile platform that displays information and video on the cell phone. Magazines and even newspapers (their news content) are delivered electronically, posing a threat to the advertiser-supported business model that has sustained them for 100 years. Digital billboards vastly expand the capabilities of the oldest mass medium.
Excerpted from ADVERTISING MEDIA PLANNING by JACK Z. SISSORS ROGER B. BARON Copyright © 2010 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of McGraw-Hill. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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