6 media planning strategies to boost your marketing efforts (2023)

tables of contents

  1. What is media planning?
  2. media planning strategies
  3. Steps to developing a media plan
  4. Media planning vs. media buying
  5. Media planning and marketing

6 media planning strategies to boost your marketing efforts (1)

You've probably heard it before: "The medium is the message." But who said it? Why does it matter in the world of media planning? The statement is from Chapter 1 of Canadian communications scholar Marshall McLuhan's 1964 book,Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. McLuhan helped shed light on the power of language, images, and the mode of messaging to influence human thought and behavior.

Marketers and professional communicators need to know how to use this power to get the message across to the right people. Regardless of the type of message, it must be delivered through some form of media.

And to ensure the message gets to the right people at the right time, marketers and communicators need to understand the media planning that dictates what, when, and how often messages are delivered in traditional forms (print, broadcast, outdoor, etc.) or digital forms .

The financial investment in the digital advertising industry is high. CorrespondingResearch by the Winterberry Group, online media spending reached $145.3 billion in 2019, with investments growing 19.1% from 2018. The categories with the highest growth included digital video, digital audio (podcasts and music streaming), and paid social ads.

OthersPricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) reportreflects that online media spending has outpaced advertising spending for television, radio, magazines and newspapers, all of which are experiencing flat or declining revenues. Mobile ad spend is expected to grow from 70% to 81% of online ad sales between 2019 and 2023.

media plannerare responsible for ensuring that these billions of advertising dollars are not wasted. You must understand every aspect of media planning to support a messaging strategy that delivers the results you want.

It starts with understanding the definition of media planning as well as its components, the types and purposes of different media platforms, and the factors that make up a media plan.

6 media planning strategies to boost your marketing efforts (2)

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What is media planning?

Media planning is the process of determining how, when and to which audience a brand or advertising message will be delivered. A media planner analyzes how a message should support a marketing or advertising strategy, and then develops tactics to share that message in the right places with the right people.

In an advertising or marketing agency, the responsibilities of a media planner may be delegated to a content director, marketing manager, account manager, or a combination of individuals with knowledge of media, budgeting, content creation, and other marketing-related specialties.

Regardless of who is responsible for development, the process requires an in-depth understanding of the components of a media plan, the platforms that can deliver the message, and the factors that go into an effective plan.

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The components of media planning

Before developing a plan, the media planner needs to fill in the gaps in certain components. Attempting to create a media plan without first understanding its components would be like riding a bike blindfolded.

The component checklist serves as the basis for the plan and should consider the following:

  • Audience:Who is the message aimed at? Why is the message relevant to them? How does the message serve them?
  • Advertising budget, advertising budget:How much is available to deliver the message?
  • Conversion Goals:What action do you want the message to inspire the audience to take? How will this action support the strategy?
  • Definition of success:What key performance indicators should be tracked? How do you support the strategy? How are they measured and reported? What is the expected return on investment?
  • Message frequency:How often should the message be shared? how much is too much
  • Message reach:How many people should receive the message? Where do you live? Is the news platform scalable? How reach is measured depends on the platform used to deliver the message. It is important for media planners to understand the nature, use, and usefulness of each available form of media.

The media forms

Marketing and promotional content takes the form that best conveys the message and drives the desired action in the consumer. Digital media encompasses all the assets a consumer finds online: paid search engine ads (pay-per-click), banner ads coupled with targeted remarketing, videos and static ads on social media, website development, and more.

In 2019, digital ad spend exceeded traditional ad spend for the first time. According to digital marketing publication eMarketer, digital marketing spend was estimated at 54.2% of total spendUS advertising spending in 2019.

Across traditional and digital media, efforts to spread messages can be categorized as follows:

  • Own media:Own media consists of original content, such as blog posts and videos, published directly to platforms owned and operated by the organization that seek to spread the message. The ultimate goal of owned media content is to go viral—a nice but unpredictable condition that should never be seen as the linchpin of a media plan.
  • Earned media:Earned media are assets that share the organization's message but are created by separate parties, such as: B. News or profiles in a newspaper or online news site. This is typically a function of public relations or media relations.
  • Payment media:These are assets associated with ad spend, such as B. social media advertising, paid search ads, paid advertising on television or radio, or the paid placement of an asset, such as. B. a guest blog post on a news website.

No type of media can be dismissed as unimportant. The type of media used can make or break a campaign, which is just one of several factors that determine the potential effectiveness of a media plan.

The factors of effective media planning

The three pillars of an effective media plan—purpose, audience, and reach—are interconnected but need to be considered separately in the early stages of plan creation. Here is an overview of the factors of effective media planning.

  • Purpose:What is the aim or goal of the campaign? Should brand awareness be generated? Encouraging a user to share contact information or fill out a form? How does the asset support the broader marketing strategy? All of these questions need to be answered very early in the planning process.
  • Audience:Who is the target consumer? Who benefits from viewing, hearing or reading the content? Who is likely to buy the service or product or develop a long-term relationship with the brand? Purpose and audience go hand in hand.
  • Reach:How many people are targeted by a particular media platform and with what frequency? Reach and frequency—the number of times a potential customer is offered the opportunity to read, watch, or listen to the content—are related. Not every potential viewer consumes media at the same rate. The more times a video or ad is shared, the more likely it is to be seen.

Once the three pillars have been identified, a media planner can flesh out the plan to develop a broader strategy and supporting tactics.

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media planning strategies

Researching media planning strategies can help marketers effectively choose the right media platforms to get a message across to relevant audiences.

The following is an overview of some of the key considerations to take into account when preparing to develop a media plan.

1. Selection of relevant media channels

Media planners have a choice of which channel or channels to choose to share content. Channels are digital or traditional platforms that provide content to users.

Traditional channels are television, radio and print advertising. Digital channels are social media, websites, email and other online platforms.

The channel chosen should be a platform that the target audience is likely to visit frequently. Channels target users based on age, gender, socioeconomic status, and other demographics.

For example, a business-to-business (B2B) audience would be more likely to be reached on LinkedIn, where companies and employees interact on a professional level. On the other hand, a business-to-consumer (B2C) audience could be found on a channel like YouTube or Instagram.

2. Determination of the relevant schedule

What determines the schedule of a media campaign? This depends on the product/service, the message goals, the target audience and the calendar of events.

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Setting the media campaign schedule requires a project plan to determine what resources will be required to support the campaign. When determining resource needs, it can be helpful to start at the bottom. When is the optimal release date (or dates)? Against this background, the planner is free to plan the necessary work.

Each aspect of the plan must be given the proper time to develop. For example, if the planner knows that a lot of market research is required, several days should be devoted to this part of the plan.

The role of each stakeholder must be considered and factored into the deadlines associated with each phase. Communication is key. Any person involved in executing the plan should have an opportunity to share setbacks or ask relevant questions.

3. Coordinating the channel mix

Rarely does a media plan include just one channel. Most campaigns will include at least two - and possibly more - to ensure that as many people as possible are exposed to the content. However, companies need to ensure that the message is consistent across all channels.

When used wisely, channels can be complementary. For example, a long-form profile of a subject can be paired with a short-form video containing an interview with the subject. The video and in-depth article can be packaged together in a blog post or shared separately on different social media platforms for increased reach.

The concept applies in particular to social media channels. When a message is relevant to multiple audiences, it's important to get that message out there on platforms that those audiences frequent. For example, a smartphone app with strong appeal could be promoted on a platform like TikTok to reach a younger audience and on LinkedIn to target business-minded professionals. Marketing teams should consider the timing and tone of these ads to avoid conflicting messages across platforms.

How to choose a digital channel: Additional resources

4. Use audience targeting

Audience targeting is about who to share a message with and how to find it. Most marketers begin the audience targeting process by developing buyer personas, or fictional versions of the people they want to reach. Once a business has developed its target audience, it can better choose the right marketing platform to reach the intended audience.

Personas are derived from data such as age, gender, occupation, purchasing behavior, hobbies, socioeconomic status, geographic location, and personal or professional goals. This data can be compiled using a template that incorporates original research into a current customer base, or collected using tools such as Google Analytics.

An important element of persona development is determining which media platforms are visited by the real people represented by the persona. Services like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter offer audience segmentation tools that break down their users' demographic information to target users accurately.

Resources for audience segmentation of social media ads

5. Setting reach and frequency targets

Another important aspect in a media plan is reach, which is closely related to frequency. As mentioned above, reach is a measure of the number of viewers, readers, or listeners that the content is being shown to. Frequency, also known as impressions, is the number of times they are likely to see or hear the content over a given period of time. Advertisers need to decide what they want to achieve with reach and frequency when considering media plan options.

Reach and frequency typically depend on how much money is spent to reinforce the message. Occasionally, content may go "viral" organically without an associated ad buy supporting it. But these opportunities are rare, so a media plan must consider the amount of money required to get the content in front of the right number of people.

Ad monies are provided to social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook based on an estimated number of users to whom the content is served. The advantage of this type of advertising as opposed to traditional media like an outdoor billboard or a magazine ad is that the social media platforms allow marketers to target specific users with their advertising.

6. Choosing a voice

A piece of content's "voice" is the sound used to convey the message. It is determined in written material by factors such as word choice and sentence length. In visual media, the use of color and shape conveys "voice".

Content voice is important because people respond to authentic messages. Consumers are savvy - they know when someone is trying to sell them something. The visceral response is to reject messages that look or sound inauthentic or irrelevant.

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How is an authentic voice created? As mentioned above, it starts with the development of personas. An important element of persona creation are determining factors such as educational level, occupation and personal interests. Different demographics have their own slang, and marketers who capture that in an absolutely perfect voice are more likely to succeed with their media plans.

Understanding the difference between reach and frequency: Additional resources

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Steps to developing a media plan

A solid media plan ensures that content has the best chance of effectively performing the function it was created for. Without a well thought-out media plan, the marketing team will act without rudder. Success, when it does occur, is more a matter of luck than precision execution.

6 media planning strategies to boost your marketing efforts (3)

After evaluating the best media planning strategies, marketers need to create the right plan for their business. Below is an overview of theSteps to developing a media plan, starting with researching the market.

1. Conduct market research

Before setting a goal, developing an editorial calendar, or creating content, the marketing team needs to know a few things about the people they hope will consume or buy their product or service. That requires market research, which is the first step in creating a media plan.

Market research reveals buyer persona characteristics such as age and other demographics. It provides information about purchasing habits and personal preferences. It tells content creators what voice to use, which platforms potential customers visit frequently, and what type of content resonates with users.

In short, market research is the backbone of the plan. It should be done thoroughly and updated regularly based on test data and customer feedback.

2. Clarify the goal

It's virtually impossible to create a successful marketing asset—an ad, blog post, video, static image, etc.—without first determining why the asset is necessary. The goal will inevitably shape every aspect of the content.

What goals can a piece of content help the marketing team achieve?

  • Brand awareness and loyalty:Tell or show a user what the company and its people are about.
  • thought leadership:Show or tell a user why the organization and its employees are experts in this field.
  • Information:Give users data or history to use in their professional or personal lives.
  • lead generation:Build the pool of potential customers by showing how a product or service could be useful.
  • Lead Conversion:Offer a potential customer the opportunity to actively seek more information or establish a lasting connection with the organization.

Setting the goal or goals in advance allows content creators to keep their work focused and focused. It streamlines the creative process and reduces the time spent on revisions. The time you spend early figuring out the endgame is time saved along the way.

3. Identify the target audience

HubSpot Ocean,targetingis "the method of segmenting consumers based on interests and demographics." Characteristics of segments can be age, income, interests, gender, geographic location, and purchasing habits.

The main purpose of segmentation is to ensure the right people are getting the message. The “right people” are those who are likely to consume the product or service being offered.

Here are a few tips for effective audience targeting:

  • Mine the analytics.Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and other platforms provide deep insights into consumer data such as geographic location, websites visited, and personal and professional interests. Search these sources for information to learn more about consumers who are already in contact with the company.
  • Conduct focus groups and polls.Invite current users and customers to participate in fact-finding sessions, or use polls to ask questions that shed light on why people use products, when, and how.
  • A/B-Test.Testing public reactions to different types of content can reveal what works and what doesn't. An A/B test presents slightly different versions of content, such as B. An ad with the same words but different images. The better performing version can be duplicated while the other can be tweaked or used for further testing.

4. Set the budget

When creating a media plan, all possible costs must be considered. A campaign may require payment for display advertising, social media ad placement, sponsored social media posts, paid search engine ad placement, influencer marketing costs, and more.

The media buyer's role is to provide an estimated cost for all of these items. The media planner then uses this information to determine cost-effective ways to create and distribute content.

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Hidden or unforeseen costs can derail a marketing campaign. Be sure to set up an "emergency" fund to cover additional costs such as fees, commissions, tests, and unforeseen expenses.

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Media planning vs. media buying

A media planner develops the plan. A media buyer executes the plan. They work together to ensure content is delivered to the right people, in the right place, at the right time.

A media buyer, as the title suggests, oversees efforts related to paid media. Media buyers need to have a working knowledge of the platforms used to distribute content – ​​and how much it costs to use those platforms.

This includes social media advertising and paid search advertising, as well as traditional advertising methods such as outdoor billboards, television, radio and newspapers. In most cases, a media buyer is assigned a budget once the media plan is created.

Below you will find an overview of the cooperation between media planners and media buyers.

How media planners and buyers work together

A media planner and a media buyer usually consult at the beginning of the planning process. The planner relies on the expertise of the buyer while the buyer works to ensure the plan is executed as expected.

The buyer's role is to keep up to date with the costs and availability of paid platforms such as search engine advertising (pay-per-click or banner advertising), website advertising, social media ads, and traditional forms of advertising. The buyer can also recommend which platform or platforms makes the most sense for the planner to integrate based on the campaign goals.

The planner relies on the buyer to place the content and monitor the amount of money spent. A buyer can also monitor key performance indicators such as reach, frequency, audience retention, conversions, and other important data.

Run the media plan

On the organic or unpaid side of the campaign, the media planner may rely on a content manager or social media manager to distribute the content. On the paid side, the role of the media buyer is to:

  • Recommend paid advertising options
  • Buy advertising space for a specific campaign
  • Negotiate pricing for content distribution
  • Work with the content team to ensure all visual and language guidelines are followed (especially for social media ads).
  • Set spending limits for paid search campaigns
  • Conduct campaign analytics to ensure cost effectiveness

A media planner and media buyer should maintain communication throughout a campaign to ensure all elements of the campaign are in sync. For example, if a media buyer finds that a particular paid search keyword has proven ineffective, they can subtract spend from that keyword and allocate it to another.

The bottom line for the relationship between media planners and media buyers: neither can work effectively without the clearly communicated input of the other.

Mediaplan Resources

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Media planning and marketing

The average US consumer spends more than 12 hours a day consuming media in some formconsumer researchconducted by eMarketer. It's up to marketing teams to develop an effective media plan to reach consumers where they are.

Media planning requires a thorough understanding of the use of different forms of media (digital and traditional). A media planner needs to understand the platforms that can deliver the message and the costs involved. A well thought-out media strategy saves time and money, efficiently delivers content to the right people, and helps a company focus its creative energy on developing content that supports sales, marketing, and brand awareness goals.

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The four stages of the content marketing funnel are awareness, evaluation, purchase, and delight. Each stage serves a specific purpose in the customer's journey, as should the content presented to the customer in those stages.

What is basic media strategy? ›

A media strategy is a type of strategy that implements the use of a particular media to achieve advertising or marketing goals. Media strategies are frequently used in advertising campaigns to increase brand awareness and interest in a company's products or services.


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