Steps to Media Planning

Every media plan begins with target audience. The target audience can be classified in terms of age, sex, income, education, occupation and other variables. The audience can also be classified as children teenagers, yound adults, office goers, newly married couples,parents, grandparents,etc.  i.e DECIDING ON TARGET MARKETS

The classification of the target audience helps the media planner to understand the media consumption habits, and accordingly choose the most appropriate media or media-mix The media planner can also select the most appropriate programme (in case of radio and TV) to insert advertisement.

Matching media and market

Advertisers must always attempt to match the profile of the target market with the demographic characteristics of a given medium’s audience.Let us consider an example of cigarette advertising. The target market for this is men in the age group of 25 to 60 years. The advertiser would consider placing ads in magazines having a predominantly male readership. Advertising in magazines having a predominantly female readership would be mostly wasteful for this product. It may be true that rarely does any magazine have a 100 percent male readership. Even so, when selecting a predominantly men’s magazine, the advertiser would minimize wasteful expenditure, Some media, such as general interest consumer magazines and newspapers, network radio and television offer to an advertiser the means of transmitting ad messages to a cross-section of the consumer market. Against this, some other media, such as spot radio and television, special interest magazines, business publications, and some business newspapers offer the means of reaching selective group of audience. The selectivity offered by some media is useful for advertisers, for it enables them to reach a distinct target market with minimum waste. In fact, a great deal of information on the media about their demographic characteristics is provided by the media themselves.The objective of any media planner is to achieve the best possible matching of the media and the market.


The media planner has to decide on the media objectives. Media objectives often are stated in terms of reach, frequency, gross rating points and continuity.

Media objectives

You can contribute most to the media process in the definition of objectives (what you want the plan to accomplish). Before media planning can start, companies have to define the marketing objectives of the product/ idea proposed to be advertised.

For example, if a professional camera manufacturer decides to launch an automatic camera to expand his market, his marketing objective would be to reach those segments of the population who are photo enthusiasts but do not want to be hassled by the intricacies of operation of professional cameras, the fun loving people who want to capture moments of joy and togetherness. The manufacturer may also target the existing professional camera users to consider a replacement in order to have the pleasure of an automatic camera, which obviously will be faster, having mastered the manual one. The marketing objective, hence, would be to extend distribution into new geographic markets or income groups as also the current users of cameras


The following could be the media objectives

  • To reach photo enthusiasts of that age and income group who are the chief purchasers.
  • To concentrate the greatest weight in urban areas where the target audience would normally be found and where new ideas gain a quicker response.
  • To provide advertising support at a consistent level except when it needs extra weight during announcements and the holiday season, when such target buyers are planning to visit exotic places or to meet their kith and kin.
  • To select those media, which will help strengthen the creative strategy and help demonstrate convenience, ease of shooting and, of course, excellent results. The “Hot Shot” camera with the’Khatak’ sound became an instant success with the photo enthusiasts in the late eighties in India.
  • To reach target buyers through those media to gain greater frequency and lesser cost per opportunity


Media objectives are built around answers to five questions: who, when, where, how often, and in what way?


After the objectives are defined there is a need to evaluate each media in order to reach a conclusion about the type of media that will be most effective for the accomplishment of the objectives.

The objects of the evaluation are:

  • To see which media are feasible.
  • To pick the main medium.
  • To prepare for the decision on how it should be used.
  • To see whether there are suitable supporting media if required.


Creative suitability:

There may be obvious reasons why a particular medium is especially suitable for the campaign or another is unsuitable, a coupon is to be included or the absence of colour is critical. Often the preference of the creative group is not backed up by concrete evidence but they have strong views nevertheless about the media to use and those not to use.

The agency is not in the business of reaching consumers with exposures of advertisements (which tend to be the media department’s natural criterion), but in the business of selling the product. So if the creative choice looks at all reasonable in media terms, it is usually sensible for the planning to accept it.

Sometimes the creative choice is unreasonable and may have been reached without full consideration of the alternatives.

An idea:

Sometimes a media idea, or better an idea which involves media and creative content, is ‘obviously’ right or simply a novelty, which is expected to attract attention and so work. A press advertisement in the shape of the product, using publications that have never before carried this type of advertising, a radio commercial announcing ‘officially’ there is now no shortage of the product, a TV commercial that starts with silence and black screen, a poster that looks like a shop window and so on. Sometimes a change is as good as an increased budget.

Proven effectiveness:

When there is evidence that a particular medium is the most efficient, the choice is obvious. The evidence may come from the tests on our own product or from a study of competitor’s activities.

The advertiser often insists on using the same medium as before, even without testing its effectiveness. The best predictor of an advertising schedule is the schedule for the previous year. This is not always laziness. It is partly because the media scene is not very different from year to year: media change is dictated by a major shift in the market place, a new medium, a new definition of the target, or a new advertising idea. Advertisers resist change because it involves more risk than to continue with a proven, viable strategy.

Availability and timing:

The type of product or copy claim may prevent the use of a medium- this is most likely to r
ule out TV, on which, for example cigarettes are not advertised. The flexibility required by the advertiser, for example being able to cancel or change advertising at a few days’ notice, may also rule out a medium-for example it may make colour press impossible.


“We can’t come off the box, that’s where our competitors are.”

‘Look, there’s no advertising for this product in women’s magazines: let’s dominate there.’

Of the two policies- match the competition or avoid it- the first is more common in media choice. This may be because the main purpose of the advertising is defensive- to reassure existing buyers and reassure existing buyers and diffuse competitors’ attacks. It may also be a fear of leaving him to dominate a medium. Or the medium normally chosen is simply the most suitable for that product group. Or the consumer and the trade have come to expect the advertising to be in that medium and look for it there, so it works best there.; on the same principle, shops often do better together in the High Street than scattered over the town.

These arguments apply to large advertisers: McDougalls will not leave spillers to be the only large flour manufacturer on TV, nor Cadburys leave TV to Mars. But for the small budgets it could be inefficient to hit competition at knee-level. A small advertiser might do better to dominate a less used medium.


The media planner has to know the capacity of the major media types to deliver reach, frequency, and impact. The major advertising media along with their costs, advantages, and limitations are to be well understood. Every media plan requires that specific media types be selected – Doordarshan, Direct mail, satellite TV, newspapers, magazines, etc. Media planners must consider several variables before choosing among major types:

Target –audience media habits:

This is the most important factor. Housewives watch more of television, whereas, working women go for magazines. Again television programmes have different viewers. For instance, “world this week” is viewed by teenagers and young adults. Therefore, it would be advisable to advertise during “World this week” such products which are of interest to teenagers and young adults. Radio and television are the most effective media for reaching teenagers.


Products that require demonstration can suit for television. For example, the demonstration of the use of a vacuum cleaner by Eureka Forbes. Financial advertising such as new issue of shares is good in newspapers. Women’s dresses are best shown in color magazines, and Polaroid cameras a best demonstrated on television. Media types have different potentials for demonstration, visualization, explanation, believability, and color.

Again there are media restrictions on certain products. For instance, alcoholic drinks and cigarettes cannot be advertised in press as well as on DD and AIR, hence these two options are totally ruled out.


The type of message dictates the type of media. For example, an ad that features technical information is best suited for specific magazines. Again, an ad from retailer announcing major sale on discount requires more of local newspapers.

Cost Factor:

Television is very expensive, where as, radio is very economical. However, cost is not the only factor, even if it is calculated on the basis of cost per- person reached. The impact of the media is to be taken into account.


Once a decision is made on media types, specific media vehicles within each medium must be chosen. For instance, the media planner may take a decision to select only magazines. The question now appears in which magazines. There are several classes of magazines- General interest like Reader’s digest, Women Interest magazines like Femina, Savvy, Elle, Business interest magazines like Business India, Business Today. If the decision is to select Business Interest Magazines- then the media planner may consider the following:

  • Business India
  • Business World
  • Fortune India
  • Dalal Street Journal
  • Business Today
  • Advertising & Marketing

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