As an electrical current flows from one end to the other through a conductor, so the advertising message is transmitted through the advertising media from the advertiser to the target audience. Advertising media are thus the vehicles that carry the advertising messages. Various kinds of media are available to an advertiser. Which one of these should be selected for a particular advertising is a strategic decision.
Effective advertising refers to informing the public about the right product at the right time through the right medium. Conveying a right message through a wrong medium at the wrong time would be a definite waste of resources. Therefore, the right media selection is the crux of the success of the entire advertising campaign. However, the right message, the right timing and the right place of advertising are equally important. Media selection decision refers only to the selection of a specific medium of advertising, such as the newspaper, a magazine, the radio, or television, the mail service or outdoor advertising, whereas media planning is a general term encompassing decisions involving the time and place of advertising in addition to the selection of the medium. A media plan outlines how advertising time and space in various media will be used to achieve the marketing objectives of the company through advertising.
The importance of advertising and its role as a powerful marketing tool need no further repetition, for this has been dealt with at great length in the introductory chapters. Promotion is one of the 4 Ps forming the marketing mix, and advertising is an important part of it. An advertising plan is based on an overall promotional strategy; and media planning follows the advertising plan. Media strategy is thus a part of the marketing strategy. In other words, the media plan is part of the overall market plan, and media selection is the last stage in the process of promotion through advertising. Media decisions are mainly concerned with the following:
What are those available media that will serve our advertising needs best? Examples: Newspaper, magazine, radio, television, direct mailing, outdoor, etc. Which individual medium in each general category of media selected above will be the best vehicle for our advertising? Examples: TOI, India Today, Mumbai- Pune-Nagpur radio and Mumbai TV commercials.
What could be the best combination or mix of media for our total advertising?
What would be the best specific schedule for the release of our ads in each of these media?
Media planning and media selection assume significance in the light of frequent reports that advertising is wasteful. One advertiser confessed: “Half of my advertising is wasted. The problem is, I don’t know which half.” Following the correct methodology and using quantitative models in media planning can achieve elimination of wasteful advertising achieved to a good extent. This is particularly true because, in the entire advertising cost, media charges are fairly substantial. The effectiveness of a well-designed advertising message depends upon “when” and “where” it is released. These are “time” and “place” decisions. In short, we may say that the success of advertising depends upon the right selection of media, the timely release of the advertisement message, its frequency and continuity, and the place of its release. All this signifies media planning.
For the right media planning and selection, the advertiser must know the consumer profile accurately and the market to be reached, i.e., the target market. If you direct advertising to people who have neither the inclination nor the money to buy your product, you are wasting your effort which otherwise may be a good advertisement effort in itself. In this case, the advertisement is effective, while advertising is ineffective. Therefore, in order to get the most out of the rupees spent on advertising, it should be directed to the right audience. For each target, there is an effective message; and it is this effective message reaching the right audience that makes advertising most successful.
Media Planning: New Perspective
In India, we are experiencing an economic slow down. Consumer buying is on the decline. Ad spends are curtailed Agencies are becoming learner. Clients are becoming more discerning about media usage. Though they are cutting and budgets, they want more effectiveness. In common parlance, this is called ‘more bang for the buck.’ Clients have become extremely vigilant on how agencies spend their money on media. Intuitive media decisions and exploratory tactics are out. Everything has to be substantiated. It is necessary to stretch every media rupee more and more. Though the broader media mix is planned annually, media planners are continuously shuffling the actual vehicles they choose channels or programmes in case of TV and publications in case of print. Clients want to know how involved their target audience is with a particular programming. Even though demographics cover the reach objectives, the target audience may be a passive viewer.
Research on the involvement of the target groups is getting more attention. Agencies are making use of proprietary consumer involvement tools that help them measure media preferences of target audiences. There is a shift from planning based merely on reach to planning based on awareness/ involvement. The client wants to know whether his target audience bas actually seen the campaign. He wants to know whether the client was at home when the commercial was telecast. Media planning goes beyond media buying. It has to focus more sharply on consumer decision making process and the importance of media in that process.
Media has to make accountable. Media planners have started using more efficient media evaluation matrices. Audience involvement scores are now weighted while arriving at ROI on media spends. Media planning has become tactical psychographic, consumer and brand strategy-led and accountable.