What Is Media Planning? (With Types And Steps To Develop It)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 6 September 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The aim of media planning is to select the right platforms to deliver advertising messages effectively to potential customers. These plans focus on contributing to the accomplishment of marketing goals and helping brands to make informed decisions about marketing campaigns. Learning about media planning can help you better understand why organisations prepare these plans and how various categories of delivery systems help companies to generate brand awareness and target new consumers. In this article, we answer 'What is media planning?', discuss its role in marketing campaigns and outline some steps that an organisation may take to develop this plan.

What Is Media Planning?

The answer to the question, 'What is media planning?', describes a process that involves brands identifying the most efficient ways to implement advertising plans. The process focuses on how, where and when to run the marketing campaigns and includes analyses on varied components, like a campaign's media goals, target audience, frequency, reach, engagement and budget to determine how it may execute marketing efforts. With good media planning, a company is better able to engage with its audience, generate sales leads for products or services and improve the campaign's return on investment (ROI).

Media planners work in collaboration with clients and brand executives to create robust plans that may help companies to utilise their budgets efficiently. Media planners are adept at analysing a brand's persona, goals and audience, along with deciding about appropriate media platforms and trends a brand may use to maximise its benefits and increase consumer engagement. While creating media plans, brands target consumers through a range of online and offline channels.

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Role Of Media Planning

Here is why media planning has an important role in marketing campaigns:

  • Planning: Analysing each step of a marketing process helps organisations to visualise their objectives and make plans accordingly. This planning allows companies to develop countermeasures for deviations in outcomes.

  • Resource optimisation: With media planning, brands are better able to optimise available resources, use media platforms efficiently and budget accordingly to meet the brand's promotional requirements. This helps companies and marketing teams to monitor their marketing and branding expenses better.

  • Platform analysis: Different media platforms offer distinct marketing solutions, along with pricing models and audience reach. Media planners assess distinct features of each media platform to select the ones that align with their requirements.

  • Timing: Marketing focuses on getting the timing right and when brands follow a plan, they are better able to organise their campaigns. Launching campaigns at the right time helps companies to maximise returns on their marketing budget and generate favourable results.

  • Control: Media planning gives greater control to marketing teams over the different stages of execution of branding initiatives. For instance, if a campaign is delivering unfavourable results, marketers can change the plan and deploy alternative solutions to improve the efficacy of marketing.

  • Profitability: With media planning, brands have strategies to increase audience engagement. These marketing strategies are a great way to determine factors that may increase a campaign's ROI and overall profitability.

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Types Of Media For Media Planning

When creating media plans, it is important for media planners to select platforms that remain incredibly impactful throughout a campaign. They conduct market research to collect information about consumers and establish campaign goals. With this data, they choose a combination of channels that may facilitate engagement and result in a successful campaign. There are both offline and online channels that are available for media planning.

Magazines, newspapers and billboards are some examples of offline media channels. Media planners also utilise radio broadcasts, television and telephone for offline advertising. For online advertising, media planners may utilise social media websites, digital publications, streaming services, emails, affiliate marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO) and the pay-per-click (PPC) model.

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How To Develop A Media Plan?

Here are some steps involved in developing a media plan:

1. Conduct market research

In the first stage of media planning, media planners conduct a detailed market analysis to understand the target audience for a brand's product or service. This research usually includes collecting data on gender, age, occupation, market preferences and consumption patterns. A brand may conduct its own market research or hire a specialised agency for a customised analysis of the target audience.

Related: What Are Market Niches? (With Benefits And 10 Examples)

2. Define objective

The second stage is clearly defining the goals of the marketing campaign. These objectives may be different, depending on the brand and its products and services. For instance, the goal may be to grow the customer base or target the existing customers to increase the social media presence of the brand. While defining goals for the campaign, media planners also take into consideration market trends and how other companies are achieving similar goals.

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3. Choose the right combination of media platforms

Among the many media channels available at the disposal of marketers, not all of them may be suitable for each campaign or product type. While social media channels offer different metrics and price plans, traditional channels, such as television and print media, have their own unique styles of campaign management. Brands choose a combination of media channels based on what kind of audience they intend to target, along with frequency and reach level.

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4. Create media schedules

Once media planners have determined the media platforms, they choose the time for launching their campaign. This involves finalising the dates, time-slots and duration for the campaigns. Media schedules allow media planners to determine how much to advertise and when to advertise. There are various cyclical trends in a market, so it is essential for media planners to understand appropriate media timing.

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5. Execute plans

This is an important stage where marketers launch their campaigns. While some brands may assign this task to industry experts, such as advertising agencies, others may choose to employ in-house marketers for the job. In this stage, brands launch a marketing campaign while the planners and marketers prepare to analyse the metrics that show the results.

6. Evaluate campaign performance

After the brand launches the campaign, the message often starts to reach the target audience and show results. While some media platforms, like social media channels and other digital marketing portals, offer tools to take corrective actions even in the middle of a campaign, the traditional media may not always offer options to take such measures. This is the evaluation stage where brands start understanding if their campaign is effective enough.

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Tips For Creating An Effective Media Plan

Here are some tips that may help a brand create an effective media plan:

  • Remain abatable. A brand may remain flexible in its media plan and budget, as it may experience several challenges while executing a marketing campaign. This flexibility helps brands to decide quickly and to keep improvising the campaign as it progresses to ensure its success.

  • Measure the campaign's success. After a campaign starts showing results, a brand may devise a process to measure and evaluate the campaign's success. Companies may select tools that allow them to utilise data to gauge the results, helping them optimise results and improve audience engagement.

  • Understand the audience. Proficient media planners understand the audience, their behavioural patterns, lifestyle and preferences to assess how various customers may interact with campaigns in different ways. Media planners may try to comprehend the audience's thought processes based on their awarenesses, interests and requirements to ensure the audience can relate to the campaign content.

  • Stay original. Original advertising campaigns are more likely to impress potential customers and make them trust a brand. A brand may ensure that campaigns avoid repetition of ideas and focus on refreshing the consumer experience, allowing the brand to initiate conversations.

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Responsibilities Of A Media Planner

Here are some common responsibilities of a media planner:

  • Collaborating with marketing teams of clients to develop campaign strategies

  • Planning a budget for campaigns and ensuring brands utilise marketing funds judiciously

  • Assisting marketers in visualising stages of a marketing campaign and developing result projections

  • Developing a detailed blueprint for each stage of the media planning process

  • Selecting the right combination of media platforms to get the best results for the brand and its campaigns

  • Gathering performance data on the results of different media channels

  • Monitoring campaign metrics to make data-driven decisions

  • Suggesting changes to marketing teams to ensure campaigns reach the maximum number of potential customers

  • Creating pitches and briefs for media channels and buyers, along with liaising with brands and media channels


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