As you read in the previous blog, media planning is a four steps process. We have discussed first one in detail and now we know about tools such as BDI/CDI matrix that many media agencies including Armani Media Agency use it to be a guide for their clients in determining their media budget. Now we are going to go deep inside the next step, establishment of media objectives.
Establishment of Media Objective
Just as the situation analysis leads to the establishment of marketing and communications objectives, the media situation analysis should lead to the determination of specific media objectives. The media objectives are not ends in themselves. Rather, they are designed to lead to the attainment of communications and marketing objectives. Media objectives are the goals of the media program and should be limited to those that can be accomplished through media strategies. For instance, media objectives could be creating awareness in the target market through “using broadcast media to cover 80 percent of the target market over a six-month period”, “reaching 60 percent of the prospects at least three times over the same six-month period”, or “creating a positive brand image in a creative way”. Next job that has to be done is media strategy development and implementation.
Developing and Implementing Media Strategy
Establishing the media objectives determined what is to be accomplished, so media planners consider how to achieve these objectives. That is, they develop and implement media strategies, which evolve directly from the actions required to meet objectives and involve the criteria below:
- The media mix
- Target market coverage
- Geographic coverage
- Reach and frequency
- Creative aspects and mood
- Budget considerations
In the following, we’ve concentrated on five of the nine in this list.
1. The Media Mix
A wide variety of media and media vehicles are available to advertisers. While it is possible that only one medium and/or vehicle might be employed, it is much more likely that a number of alternatives will be used. The objectives sought, the characteristics of the product or service, the size of the budget, and individual preferences are just some of the factors that determine what combination of media will be used.
By employing a media mix, advertisers can add more versatility to their media strategies, since each medium contributes its own distinct advantages. By combining media, marketers can increase coverage, reach, and frequency levels while improving the likelihood of achieving overall communications and marketing goals.
2. Target Market Coverage
The media planner determines which target markets should receive the most media focus. Developing media strategies involves matching the most appropriate media to this market but the issue here is to get coverage of the market, as shown in Figure 1. The optimal goal is full market coverage, the second from left. But this is a very optimistic scenario. More realistically, conditions shown in the third and fourth charts are most likely to occur. In the third chart, the coverage of the media does not allow for coverage of the entire market, leaving some potential customers without exposure to the message. In the fourth chart, the marketer is faced with a problem of overexposure called waste coverage in which the media coverage exceeds the targeted audience.
Figure 1- How covering the market could get done
3. Geographic Coverage
Wrestling is much more popular in some areas of the country like the north of Iran than in others. It would not be the wisest of strategies to promote wrestling in those areas where interest is not high unless you could generate an increase in interest. It may be possible to promote an interest in wrestling in that other areas, but a notable increase in sales of wrestling equipment is not very likely. The objective of weighting certain geographic areas more than others makes sense, and the strategy of exerting more promotional efforts and monetary resources in those areas follows naturally.
Companies would like to keep their advertising in front of consumers at all times as a constant reminder of the product or brand name. In reality, this is not possible nor is it necessary. The primary objective of scheduling is to time promotional efforts so that they will coincide with the highest potential buying times. Three scheduling methods are available to the media planner as shown in Figure 3: Continuity, Flighting, and Pulsing.
Continuity refers to a continuous pattern of advertising, which may mean every day, every week, or every month. The key is that a regular (continuous) pattern is developed without gaps or non-advertising periods. Such strategies might be used for advertising for food products, laundry detergents, or other products typically known as FMCGs and consumed on an ongoing basis without regard for seasonality.
Flighting employs a less regular schedule, with intermittent periods of advertising and non-advertising. At some time periods there are heavier promotional expenditures, and at others, there may be no advertising. Many banks, for example, spend no money on advertising in the summer but maintain advertising throughout the rest of the year.
Pulsing is actually a combination of the first two methods. In a pulsing strategy, continuity is maintained, but at certain times promotional efforts are stepped up. In the wedding industrial at certain times such as Norooz or other holidays such as Eid al-Qadir promotional efforts are stepped up.
Figure 2- Comparison of the three strategies of scheduling
On the basis of the idea that it is important to get exposure to the message as close as possible to when the consumer is going to make the purchase, the study concludes that advertisers should continue weekly schedules as long as possible. The key here may be the “as long as possible” qualification. Given a significant budget, continuity may be more of an option than it is for those with more limited budgets.
5. Reach vs. Frequency
Since advertisers have a variety of objectives and face budget constraints, they usually must trade off reach and frequency. They must decide whether to have the message be seen or heard by more people (reach) or by fewer people more often (frequency).
- Reach. Thinking back to the famous marketing funnel, you will recall that the first stage of each model requires awareness of the product and/or brand. The more people are aware, the more they are likely to move to each subsequent stage. Achieving awareness requires reach—that is, exposing potential buyers to the message. New brands or products need a very high level of reach since the objective is to make all potential buyers aware of the new entry. High reach is also desired at later stages of the hierarchy. The problem arises because there is no known way of determining how much reach is required to achieve levels of awareness, attitude change, or buying intentions, nor can we be sure an ad placed in a vehicle will actually reach the intended audience.
If I expose everyone in my target group to the message once, will this be sufficient to create a 100 percent level of awareness? The answer again is no. This leads to the next question: What frequency of exposure is necessary for the ad to be seen and to have an impact?
- Frequency. It is the number of times one is exposed to the media vehicle in a specified time period (usually 13 weeks), not necessarily to the ad itself. Today marketers continue to seek ways to increase engagement, hoping to reduce the number of leaving the room during commercial breaks (an example of TVC). A 1:1 exposure ratio does not exist. So while your ad may be placed in a certain vehicle, the fact that a consumer has been exposed to that vehicle does not ensure that your ad has been seen. As a result, the frequency level expressed in the media plan overstates the actual level of exposure to the ad. This overstatement has led some media buyers to refer to the reach of the media vehicle as “opportunities to see” an ad rather than actual exposure to it. One of the experts of marketing says:” Establishing frequency goals for an advertising campaign is a mix of art and science but with a definite bias toward art.”
- Gross Ratings Points. To determine how much advertising volume or weight is necessary to accomplish advertiser’s objectives, marketers rely on ratings (the number of people reached) and frequency (the average number of times exposed) figures. A summary measure that combines the program rating and the average number of times the home is reached during this period (frequency of exposure) is a commonly used reference point known as gross ratings points (GRPs): GRP=Reach×Frequency
- GRPs are based on the total audience the media schedule may reach using a duplicated reach estimate. Duplicated reaches are the ones at which the ad reach the same audience through different media vehicles. Target ratings points (TRPs) refer to the number of people in the primary target audience the media buy will reach and the number of times.
According to one of the experts, most advertisers prefer to get 500 to 700 GRPs to be sure their message is seen and seen often. 8 A number of researchers have explored this issue. David Berger, vice president and director of research at Foote Cone & Belding, has determined that 2,500 GRPs are likely to lead to roughly a 70 percent probability of high awareness, 1,000 to 2,500 would yield about a 33 percent probability, and less than 1,000 would probably result in almost no awareness.
- Effective Reach. Since marketers have budget constraints, they must decide whether to increase reach at the expense of frequency or increase the frequency of exposure but to a smaller audience. Effective reach represents the percentage of a vehicle’s audience reached at each effective frequency increment. This concept is based on the assumption that one exposure to an ad may not be enough to convey the desired message. No one knows the exact number of exposures necessary for an ad to make an impact, although advertisers have settled on three as the minimum. Fewer than 3 exposures are considered insufficient reach, while more than 10 are considered overexposure and thus ineffective reach. This exposure level is no guarantee of effective communication; different messages may require more or fewer exposures.
Since advertisers do not know how many times the viewer will actually be exposed, advertisers typically purchase GRPs that lead to more than three exposures to increase the likelihood of effective reach and frequency. For purchasing GRPs you have note these two statements:
Instead of using average frequency, the marketer should decide what minimum frequency goal is needed to reach the advertising objectives effectively and then maximize reach at that frequency level.
To determine the effective frequency, one must consider marketing factors, message factors, and media factors. In summary, the reach-versus-frequency decision, while critical, is very difficult to make. A number of factors must be considered, and concrete rules do not always apply. The decision is often more of an art than a science.
Now that we know some concepts of planning the media, in the next blog, we will discuss other concepts to have a better insight into the everyday job of media agencies.
Belch, G. E., & Belch, M. A. (2015). Media Planning and Strategy. In G. E. Belch, & M. A. Belch, Advertising and Promotion: An Integrated Marketing Communication Perspective (pp. 337-372). New York: McGraw-Hill Education.