The two basic tasks of marketing communications are message creation and message dissemination. supports message dissemination. Media planning helps you determine which media to use--be it television programs, newspapers, bus-stop posters, in-store displays, banner ads on the Web, or a flyer on Facebook. It also tells you when and where to use media in order to reach your desired audience. Simply put, media planning refers to the process of selecting media time and space to disseminate advertising messages in order to accomplish marketing objectives. When advertisers run commercials during the Super Bowl game at more than $2.5 million per thirty-second spot, for example, media planners are involved in the negotiation and placement.
Thus, reach indicates the media dispersion while frequency shows the media repetition. Notice that the formula for frequency can be flipped to make a formula for GRPs; GRPs are the product of reach multiplied by frequency. If a media plan calls for a broad reach and a high frequency, then it calls for very high GRPs (lots of ad exposures to lots of people). Achieving a very high GRP is very expensive, however, and budget issues may preclude such a high GRP. Thus, media planners may start with budget, then estimate the GRPs that they can afford and then either sacrifice reach to maintain frequency or let frequency drop to one in order to maximize reach.
Media planners also consider frequency distribution in order to fully understand exactly how many exposures different people experience; that is, how many people will see the ad once, twice, three times, etc. This lets the planner estimate the effective reach of the plan at the effective frequency needed by the campaign ?the number of people who see the ads a sufficient number of times for the media plan to be effective.
Media buyers can use tools, like the one shown below, to make the process of selecting a media vehicle easier. To use the selection tool shown in Figure 9I, develop a list of the potential vehicle candidates you are considering. Then, select several quantitative and qualitative characteristics that are relevant to reach and frequency considerations, such as quantitative characteristics like CPM or GRP, and qualitative characteristics like reputation and added value. Next, make a table that lists the vehicle candidates in rows and the characteristics in columns. Now you can rate each of the characteristics of each vehicle on a scale of 1 to 3. Then add all the numbers in each row, dividing by the total number of characteristics (columns) to arrive at the rating for each vehicle. The best media vehicles to choose are those with the highest index numbers. In Figure 8, Vehicle 2 and Vehicle 3 are the best ways to reach the target audience.
This article described the media planning process, starting from establishing media objectives through to developing media strategies and tactics and finally evaluating the effectiveness of the media plan. You've learned how to identify your target audience; evaluate different media vehicles on the basis of reach, frequency and GRPs; make prudent media mix decisions using tools like BDI and CDI and scheduling concepts like continuity, flight and pulse scheduling; make sound budget decisions using tools like CPP and CPM; and, finally, evaluate the effectiveness of your media plan through surveys, feedback devices, tracking and observation. In the next four chapters, we'll delve more deeply into the different types of media ?print media, broadcast media, out-of-home media and interactive media ?to help you understand the ad formats, strengths/weakness and cost structures of each of these advertising media.