planning an advertising campaign, media planning is one of the
most important considerations, although other aspects of the
process often overshadow it. Spending time and effort on a
“creative” ad is a waste of resources if it is not exposed to
the right audience. Because the media vehicle is usually an
afterthought, the potential marketing return on investment
diminishes significantly. There are efficient media vehicles
for every target audience.
How does one go about
selecting what media vehicle to use? The answer is—it depends.
It depends on the target market composition and what your
goals are. Demographics and psychographics usually determine
Take a look at your goals in terms of
demographics. Advertising media are comprised of two
categories; mass media and niche media. Media like newspapers,
television and radio are considered mass media; the message is
widely spread and the audience is anonymous. Niche media, such
as direct mail and cable television, reach a narrower
audience, with unique demographic characteristics. Is your
firm looking to target the average consumer, or an audience
with specific needs?
When who you want to target has
been established, what next? Should you book a series of radio
spots, or buy 2-page spread in magazines? Don’t book anything
just yet. Pick a few options and compare them in terms of
reach and frequency. Reach and frequency analysis is the most
common method of planning media. Reach is defined as the
proportion of your target audience that would be exposed to a
media schedule. Frequency is the number of times on average an
audience member is exposed to a media schedule in a given time
Keep in mind that to cover more of your target
audience, either the reach has to be broader, meaning you
would have to use a nationally distributed magazine as opposed
to a regional publication or your frequency must go up. Both
scenarios can be costly; there is no point in aiming for a
high reach and/or frequency if your firm does not have the
resources. Determine the minimum cost of entry for each media
category and compare it to available resources.
media vehicle reaches your audience best, broadcast or print?
Maybe neither, it could be the Internet. It is important to
understand the dynamics of each. Advertising in the wrong
media can be detrimental to the return on your marketing
An Argument for the
The Internet is a dynamic medium. It can
be classified as both mass media and niche media. In addition
to being a method of communication, it is the only media that
interacts with the prospect via mouse click. In many cases, it
is also the means of completing a transaction. On top of all
that, the Internet dominates any other medium in the daytime
in terms of usage among working adults.
As amazing as
the Internet is in terms of communicating with an audience,
there is one pitfall: it is extremely difficult to measure
reach and frequency with Internet advertising. No established
system has emerged with a precise way to record demographic
information. Of course you can see how many times a link has
been clicked or how many visitors viewed a page, but the users
are anonymous. Otherwise, no demographic information is
available unless the Internet user provides it.
this mean you should invest heavily in your website, search
engine marketing and pay-per-click advertising? Not
necessarily. Look at the available demographics of the
Internet. Do they match those of your target audience? Nielsen
ratings suggest that in the online-at-work audience spends 27
hrs, 51 mins and 25 secs online per month on average with the
number of web pages viewed at 1,806.
Power of the
Print media is best if your copy has a lot of
detail, information or if the objective is an immediate
response. Newspapers provide a broad reach and precision in
terms of demographics. The usage for this media is consistent.
Reading the newspaper is a daily habit.
for this medium according to the National Newspaper
Association, include a readership of 48% of the total 18+
populations on average nationally on weekdays. Sunday
readership is a bit higher, at 56% of all adults.
the other hand, newspapers are one-shot deals— they are seldom
looked at more than once and are often discarded after use.
Retention of the ad or message lies in frequency. Newspapers
are dependent on frequency, because of the nature of the
medium. If your budget does not allow for a consistent
campaign, then newspaper advertising is not for you.
A Matter of Magazines
capable of reaching the narrowest audience with precision. In
addition, the advertisement is usually related in some way to
the editorial content. When your target audience members pick
up a magazine, their mindset is relevant to the
Magazines are not so time sensitive as
newspapers. Magazines for the most part are read over and
over. Think of how many times patients in a doctor’s office
leaf through the same magazine, once for an overview and then
a second time to actually sit with articles of interest to
them. A common trend for all magazines is that readers spend
more time with magazines than any other print media because
they want “the bang for their buck.”
You’re not the
only one that knows the power of advertising in a magazine.
More likely than not, your competitors are on the bandwagon,
especially in trade publications. Having your ad stand out is
based on where in the magazine it is placed, in addition to
the genius of your art director and copywriter.
Radio for Real?
Contrary to popular
belief, radio advertising has not died. Radio advertising is a
way to give the brand a personality, or that of a smooth
sounding actor. It is easy on marketing budgets and can reach
target audiences effectively.
Almost everyone listens
to the radio for news, music, talk, etc. Radio can be listened
to at home and is a portable media outlet, unlike television.
Most businesses have the radio on all day in the background.
During the morning commute, the car radio is usually tuned to
some news program or radio talk show. Radio stations already
have an established audience, hopefully your target audience.
Take advantage of it.
According to the Radio
Advertising Bureau, radio reaches 96.4% of adults weekly, age
25-54, and 75% of those adults every day. Average listening
time of adults age 18+ is 3 hours and 12 minutes. Even more
amazing is the fact that radio is the highest ranked medium
closest to times of purchase. In any 24-hour period, 63% of
adults 25-54 are exposed to radio within one hour of making
their largest purchase of the day. Television comes in at 22%
in 24 hours.
Television is the most popular medium
overall. Evidence of this is the skyrocketing rates to buy
spots. An effective commercial, even if viewed once, can have
a lasting effect. Brand awareness is established quickly with
television, partly because of the combination of audio and
The reach can be broad or narrow,
depending whether you choose network or cable advertising.
Media research companies, such as AC Nielsen are highly
effective in tracking demographics for this medium. While the
Internet comes out on top for usage during the day, television
has the highest usage during the evenings. A disadvantage to
television advertising is that it is seasonal. During the
summer, when major networks air re-runs, viewer ship isn’t
Another downside is the cost of booking a good
spot. Network broadcast expenditure for the second quarter of
2004 alone was $6 billion, while local broadcast TV was $4
billion and syndicated TV was a few thousand shy of $1 billion
in expenditure according to the Television Bureau of
Dealing with Direct
The targetability with direct mail is
almost limitless. You can base direct mail campaigns by
geography, previous purchases or interest based on purchased
lists for personal and business purposes. Reach can range from
extremely broad to narrow. With direct mailings, the prospect
has as much time to view your advertisement as they want. It
is also easy to tailor your ads to your target markets, if
targeting more than one segment in the population, since you
already know so much about who will be receiving your
The pitfall is in the response rate. According to
the Direct Response Association, the response rate for direct
mail in 2003 was 2.73%. While it can be costly to provide
prospects with an incentive to respond, your company develops
a one-on-one relationship, which to some marketers, is
When you determine which media meets your
reach and frequency requirements, consider resources necessary
to attain these goals. A competitive analysis for the media
selected would also be of benefit. It is good to advertise
where there is little or weak competition, but where you
advertise should have a target audience of interest to you.
Copy for advertisements should be relevant to the audience
that the media vehicle reaches.
The truth about media
planning is that it depends on your brand’s wants. There are
no tricks or secrets in selecting to advertise in one media or
another. Every type of media has a segment that can
potentially be yours. One important consideration is where do
you want to reach them? Do you want to reach your audience
online at work, at home watching television or listening to
the radio on the go? The bottom line is planning media is the
most important decision when laying out an advertising
campaign, so choose wisely.
Mark Levit is the managing partner of
Partners & Levit Advertising/New York and a professor of
marketing at New York University. For more information, please
visit www.partnerslevit.com, call 212.696.1200 or e-mail