What Is Media Planning? Types, Benefits and How to Implement

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 12 October 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.

If you work in advertising, you might wonder how to develop a comprehensive advertising strategy. Media planning is one approach to ensuring a company creates brand awareness and reaches its target audience. Learning more about this process can help advertisers develop effective campaigns that stay within their budgets. In this article, we define media planning, list its types and benefits, discuss how it differs from media buying and explains how to create an effective strategy.

What is media planning?

Media planning is the process of outlining an advertising strategy for an organisation. It creates various marketing opportunities to ensure the organisation reaches its target audience while remaining within its budget. Throughout its course, an advertiser strives to answer questions such as the following:

  • What is the advertising budget?

  • How can the organisation cater to the needs of the target audience?

  • What's the organisation's unique value proposition?

  • How many people is the organisation aiming to convert?

  • What factors indicate that the strategy was successful?

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Types of media planning

Here are a few common types to be aware of:

Paid media

Paid media is the practice of paying money for a brand's advertising space. The brand seeking to market its products works with advertising partners to create awareness. A common example of paid media is pay-per-click advertising campaigns, as brands pay marketing platforms every time a consumer clicks on the brand's ads. Another example of paid media is display ads, as brands can pay to have their graphics appear across websites, apps and social media platforms. Paid media can be especially beneficial for brands that don't yet have a large following, as advertising dollars can help an organisation maximise its reach.

Related: What Are Banner Ads and How Do They Benefit Companies?

Owned media

Owned media is a more organic way to reach an organisation's target audience. With this strategy, the brand uses the products it owns to spread awareness. A company might publish posts on its blog or create engaging social media posts. The goal is to attract customers who are naturally interested in the product and convert them by appealing to their desire for information or entertainment.

Note that even though owned media involves the use of products the company already owns, it isn't necessarily a free form of marketing. Companies still pay for the resources and time it takes to create content. For instance, a company that publishes blog posts pays for its website domain and the salaries of employees who write the content. Once the brand builds a steady audience through its owned media strategy, the costs become more sustainable and reduce the need for paid media spending.

Earned media

Earned media refers to the publicity that a brand gets from consumers and third-party news outlets. This coverage can be particularly valuable, as consumers may deem advertising from external sources as more credible than anything an organisation releases about itself. Even though earned media originates from external sources, a brand can create a strategy that ensures positive press.

For instance, a company might encourage customers to leave product reviews to boost its online reputation. Companies can also develop earned media strategies by partnering with news outlets and planning events that generate positive press. A company might strive to gain the trust of eco-friendly customers by highlighting its beach-cleaning campaigns.

Benefits of media planning

Here are some of the benefits to review:

Track your budget

Companies have expenses ranging from rent to operational costs, meaning there's a finite amount of money available for advertising. This process allows organisations to create budgets and track their expenses to ensure they keep their spending reasonable. A thorough strategy outlines the funds an organisation can use for everything from paid advertisements to marketing research. Because a media plan can reveal overspending problems, the organisation can cut back on certain expenses or advocate for additional funds from stakeholders if it can justify the need for an increased budget.

Related: Budget Management Skills: Definition and Examples

Target a specific audience

In many cases, a company's products aren't meant for consumers across the entire market. Targeting the appropriate audience can help a company optimise its marketing budget and ensure the success of its advertising campaigns. For instance, a children's toy company might focus on advertising to younger demographics. When it decides to branch out from this audience to target other demographics, the company could strategically market to parents and other consumers who might buy a children's bicycle as a gift. This customised approach involves identifying the value of the company's products and determining how they might appeal to various groups.

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Establish consistency

If a company markets its products across various channels, it can strive for consistency. Uniform fonts, colours and messaging help with brand recognition and ensure consumers feel confident in their relationship with the company. A media plan works to establish these consistent elements so teams can maintain a stable company image. For instance, a social media manager might use the same style guide as a website designer to ensure visitors have similar user experiences across the web.

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Identify improvement opportunities

Yet another benefit of is that it allows organisations to identify improvement opportunities. A media plan often includes a way to measure a campaign's success whether it be in the form of the amount of website traffic or the total number of conversions. If an organisation notices that it's behind on its goals, it can make the appropriate adjustments to meet company-wide objectives. Conversely, an organisation can draw inspiration from and continue implementing the measures that produce positive results.

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Media planning vs. media buying

Media buying is a subset of media planning which involves the purchasing of advertising space across various platforms. The media plan dictates which advertising spaces to buy and helps media buyers understand their budgets and goals. Media buyers evaluate different channels to find ideal rates and ensure the format aligns with the brand's marketing objectives. Examples of media buying strategies include:

  • real-time bidding

  • manual bidding

  • direct buys

  • programmatic buys

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How to write a media plan

Here are steps for writing a media plan:

1. Determine marketing goals

A business might have several marketing goals, but consider being as specific as possible when developing your media plan. For instance, a newer company might focus on selling products to increase revenue. An established company might seek to increase brand awareness to appeal to previously unreached audiences.

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2. Identify the target audience

Your target audience is the group of consumers you want to reach through your media plan. It's usually easiest to target consumers who are naturally interested in the product you're selling, though you might try to convince consumers to try your product who might not have otherwise. This step also involves identifying the traits of your target audience so you can use the appropriate angle when marketing your product.

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3. Consider ad frequency

Understanding your target audience can help you identify the appropriate ad frequency, which refers to how often your ads is going to appear in front of customers. Some companies opt for a consistent ad schedule that ensures consumers constantly see their products. A flighting ad frequency refers to the process of running higher-intensity campaigns in between ad breaks, which is especially common for seasonal products.

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4. Track campaign progress

Once you implement your ads, you can maximise your return on investment (ROI) by tracking campaign progress. Review analytics such as website traffic and number of conversions to determine how effective the ads are. You can also make adjustments based on industry trends and consumer input.

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