The six-step guide to getting more out of your media plan

When businesses invest in advertising to drive sales, the planning of that investment to maximise return. Ralf Schweitzer highlights six critical factors for success.

The process that leads to a media plan is fluid. Proposals are changed frequently as business priorities shift and budgets are revised. To ensure the final media plan is as effective as the initial proposal, it’s crucial to bear in mind the factors that can be compromised by revision and change. Keeping sight of the following six steps will ensure that even the most-reworked media plan will deliver the best impact for the business.

1. Understand the business environment you operate in.

This should go without saying, but as advertising impact is affected by lots of other factors, timing is crucial. Aligning advertising and promotional activity will trigger multiplier effects, while stronger seasonal leverage might be offset by adverse competitive campaigns. Such complexity can only be understood when you have a solid understanding of all factors affecting your business.

2. Understand the trade-off between seasonality of demand and seasonality of media cost.

The cheap summer months for TV often get overlooked because “everyone is on holiday”. When we look at actual data, we often find that whilst sales are usually lower, the percentage fall certainly does not imply that nobody is buying. If the low season coincides with months when media is cheap, then it can be an attractive opportunity to earn a good return on your marketing investment.

3. Understand the memory effect of your advertising.

An advertising message doesn’t lose its impact the moment it ceases to appear on TV or elsewhere. The message stays with the consumer for a period of time. The exact period of retention varies from product to product and campaign to campaign, but understanding how long consumers will continue to act on your message is essential to getting the spacing between each burst of advertising right.

4. Understand the number of contacts a consumer needs to take action.

Every consumer is different but there are frequencies of contact that are more effective than others. These are influenced by the product category and the complexity of the message. Having an idea of the number of contacts that work best can strongly affect your media optimisation, making your campaign much more successful. You’ll know whether to follow a reach or frequency strategy in mass media or when to set frequency caps in digital. Over the years, we have observed that adverts with a strong call to action require a lower OTS than adverts with a softer, image-focused message.

5. Understand that the world is changing and the effectiveness of media with it.

The media world is changing at an increasingly rapid pace. Combined with technical innovation and shorter product life cycles this means the effectiveness of advertising can change quickly as well – from the launch of a product to on-going campaigns or as a medium loses significance. It is important to re-evaluate regularly to ensure that the latest findings are reflected in your current plan.

6. Test and learn.

Change brought about by digital represent a new frontier for many brands. Digital advertising includes a range of formats from display to affiliate to search and their place in the media mix is not established. The power of these platforms to deliver changes in behaviour alongside other media, in particular, is not fully understood. See this as an opportunity to test and learn. Allow some space in the plan to try new things, but don’t forget to make sure they are tried in a way that can be measured, so you can apply any learnings to the next round of planning.


Ralf Schweitzer is Manager, Marketing Effectiveness at Ebiquity (Germany)



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