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Setting Media objectives

How is a media plan developed?

Media planning is a four-step process which consists of

(1) Setting media objectives in light of marketing and advertising objectives,

(2) Developing a media strategy for implementing media objectives,

(3) Designing media tactics for realizing media strategy, and

(4) Proposing procedures for evaluating the effectiveness of the media plan.          

Let’s take a look at the planning process through an example: P&G’s launch of the Gillette Fusion shaving system for men in early 2006. First, P&G’s media objectives called for a $200 million media blitz to reach men in the U.S.

Second, P&G’s strategy included a mix of national media to introduce the brands. For example, television advertising, such as a $5 million Super Bowl ad campaign, portrayed Fusion as an advanced technology found in a secret government UFO lab. The TV ads also established the brand’s signature orange and blue color scheme. In store aisles, 180,000 display units promoted Fusion, using the brand’s colors to catch consumers’ attention. “We’re trying to put the product wherever men shop,” said Pauline Munroe, marketing director for blades and razors in P&G’s Gillette business unit.

Third, P&G’s media tactics — such as a Father’s Day sweepstakes, an episode of NBC’s The Apprentice in which the show’s teams competed to promote the razor, and sponsorship of competitive surfing — helped the company reach men of all ages. “Fusion will get so much attention that it will drive a lot of men to try these grooming products,” said Gary Stibel of New England Consulting Group. Finally, P&G used sales and market share targets to assess the effectiveness of the media plan. P&G expects sales of Fusion to reach $1 billion in sales by year three. P&G knows that the brand has already achieved 25% market share in the U.S. Thus, although $200 million seems like a lot to spend on advertising a new product, it represents a sound financial investment toward the tremendous future profit that P&G will gain from the new shaving system.

Now, let’s take a deeper look into the media planning process. Media planning, such as planning the marketing communications for the launch of the Fusion new shaving system, starts with setting media objectives. Media objectives usually consist of two key components: target audience and communication goals. The target audience component of the media objectives defines who the intended target of the campaign is. For example, P&G’s target audience objective for its Fusion shaving system was men 18-40 years old. The communications goals component of the media objectives defines how many of the audience the campaign intends to reach and how many times it will reach them. In short, media objectives are a series of statements that specify what exactly the media plan intends to accomplish. The objectives represent the most important goals of brand message dissemination, and they are the concrete steps to accomplish marketing objectives.

Target Audience

The first objective of a media plan is to select the target audience: the people whom the media plan attempts to influence through various forms of brand contact. Because media objectives are subordinate to marketing and advertising objectives, it is essential to understand how the target audience is defined in the marketing and advertising objectives. The definition may or may not be exactly the same, depending on the marketing and advertising objectives and strategies.

A common marketing objective is to increase sales by a specific amount. But this marketing objective does not specify a target audience, which is why the media objective is needed.  Consider Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and all the different strategies the advertiser could use to increase sales among different target audiences. For example, one target audience might be current customers — encouraging people who eat one bowl a day to also “munch” the cereal as a snack. Or, the advertiser might target competitors’ customers, encouraging them to switch brands. Or, the advertiser might target young adults who are shifting from high sugar “kids cereals” to more adult breakfast fare. Finally, the advertiser could target a broader lower-income demographic. The point is that each campaign could increase sales via a different target audience.

Marketers analyze the market situation to identify the potential avenues for boosting sales increase and consider how advertising might achieve those aims. If the advertiser chooses to attract competitors’ customers — like what Sprint does to attract users of other wireless services — the media plan will need to define the target audience to be brand switchers and will then identify reasons to give those potential switchers to switch, such as greater convenience, lower cost, or additional plan features. For example, in 2006 Sprint Nextel ran an ad campaign urging consumers to switch to Sprint because “no one has a more powerful network.

Demographics and Psychographics

The target audience is often defined in terms of demographics and psychographics. Syndicated research services such as Simmons Market Research Bureau (SMRB or Simmons) and Media mark Research Inc. (MRI) provide national data on a number of demographics of U.S. consumers, including gender, age, education, household income, marital status, employment status, type of residence, and number of children in the household. Using demographic variables, for example, the target audience of a media plan could be “individuals who are 26-to-45 years old with yearly household income of $50,000 or more” or “all households with children age 3 years or younger.”

Some advertisers believe that demographic definitions of a target audience are too ambiguous, because individual consumers that fit such definitions can be quite different in terms of their brand preference and purchase behavior. For example, think about the students in a media planning class. Even though some of them are the same age and gender, they may like different brands of toothpaste, shampoo, cereal, clothing, and other products. Therefore, media planners use psychographics to refine the definition of the target audience.

Generational Cohorts

In addition to demographics and psychographics, generational cohort is another useful concept for selecting the target audience. Because the members of a particular generational cohort are likely to have had similar experiences during their formative years, they maintain analogous social views, attitudes, and values. Generational cohorts in the U.S. are the Baby Boomers (about 70 million people born 1945-1964), Generation X (about 17 million people born in 1965-1978), and Generation Y (about 60 million people born between 1979 and 1994). Each of the cohorts possesses distinct characteristics in their lifestyles and often serves as a reference group from which finer segments of the target audiences can be selected for specific advertising campaigns.

An interesting example of a generational cohort is “kogals” in Japan. Originating from the world for “high school,” kogals are a unique segment of young women in urban Japan who conspicuously display their disposable incomes through unique tastes in fashion, music, and social activity. They have the leisure time to invent new ways of using electronic gadgets. For example, they started changing mobile phones’ ring tones from boring beeps to various popular songs and changing screen savers from dull defaults to cute pictures. Manufacturers observe kogals and listen to what they say is unsatisfactory about the products. In some cases, manufacturers simply imitate the new usages that kogals spontaneously invented and incorporate these usages part of their own new commercial services, thereby increasing sales.

Product and Brand Usage

Target audiences can also be more precisely defined by their consumption behavior. Product usage includes both brand usage (the use of a specific brand such as Special K cereal or Dove soap) and category usage (the use of a product category such as facial tissue or chewing gum). Product use commonly has four levels: heavy users, medium users, light users and non-users. The levels of use depend on the type of product. For example, Simmons defines heavy domestic beer users as those who consume five or more cans in the past 30 days, medium beer users as those who consumer two to four cans, and light users as those who consume one can in 30 days.

Primary and Secondary Target Audience

The target audience in a media plan can be either primary or secondary. A primary target audience is one that plays a major role in purchase decisions, while a secondary target audience plays a less decisive role. In the case of video game players, for example, children’s requests often initiate a purchase process; parents often respect their children’s brand selection. Thus, it is reasonable to consider children as the primary target audience and their parents as the secondary target audience. If the parents are aware of the advertised brand, it will be easier for children to convince them of the purchase. Media planners need to examine and identify the role of consumers in shopping, buying and consuming a product or service to target the right groups of consumers effectively.

The Size of Target Audiences

In the process of defining a target audience, media planners often examine and specify the actual size of a target audience — how many people or households fit the definition. Knowing the actual size helps advertisers to estimate the potential buying power of the target audience. For example, if the target audience of a campaign is defined as working women 26-to-44 years old who are interested in receiving daily news updates on their mobile phones, media planners should estimate the number of these women in the U.S. to quantify the sales potential.

As another example, if the target audience consists of 2,000,000 households in the U.S. and each household purchases the brand two times a month, the monthly sales would be 4,000,000 units. The U.S. Census Bureau provides the most authoritative data about demographics of the U.S. population by state. Whereas the U.S. Census provides demographic data, market research services such as Simmons and MRI provide demographic data that is linked to product data. This means that media planners can get information about consumers of hundreds of product types.

Communication Goals

After media planners define the target audience for a media plan, they set communication goals: to what degree the target audience must be exposed to (and interact with) brand messages in order to achieve advertising and marketing objectives. For example, one communication goal can be that 75 percent of the target audience will see the brand in television commercials at least once during a period of three months. Another communication goal is that 25 percent of the target audience will form a preference for a new brand in the first month of the brand launch. The different communication goals can be better understood in a hierarchy of advertising objectives, such as Bill Harvey’s expansion of an earlier model of Advertising Research Foundation (ARF).

The expanded ARF model has ten levels. The first three levels of goals from the bottom — vehicle distribution, vehicle exposure, and advertising exposure — are particularly relevant for media planning. Vehicle distribution refers to the coverage of a media vehicle, such as the number of copies that a magazine or newspaper issue has, or the number of households that can tune in to a given television channel. Vehicle exposure refers to the number of individuals exposed to the media vehicle, such as the number of people who read a magazine or watched a television program. Advertising exposure refers to the number of individuals exposed an ad or a commercial itself.

It is important to note the difference between vehicle exposure and advertising exposure for many media with editorial content. For example, not all audience members of a television program will watch all the commercials interspersed in the program. A study shows that only 68 percent of television audiences watch the commercials in television programs. Vehicle exposure represents only an opportunity to see an ad, not necessarily that the ad has actually been seen. In reality, advertising exposure is rarely measured, and media planners use vehicle exposure as a proxy measure of advertising exposure.

Another group of communication goals is advertising recall, advertising persuasion, leads and sales. Advertising recall represents the cognitive effect of the ad, advertising persuasion represents the emotional effect of the ad, and leads and sales are the behavioral effects of the ad. Each can be specified in a media plan as a communication goal. For example, a communication goal can specify that 50% of the target audience will recall the radio ad during the month of the campaign, or that a campaign will generate 3000 leads.

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