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The Importance of The Fundamentals of Media Planning

February 2, 2023
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The media industry is changing by the day, literally. Google and Facebook are both known to adjust their algorithms daily, and sometimes even more often than that. Linear television viewership is declining, folks are canceling their cable packages, and people are streaming their content more and more. Pandora used to be the darling of streaming radio, but now it competes with 5 million podcasts all vying to enter consumer headphones. People used to consume news through a daily newspaper, or by sitting down for their nightly news television program. Now? News is a daily barrage of information fed to us from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, The Daily (and other news podcasts), live feeds on a variety of news websites, and more. Media habits are shifting, the media landscape is ever-changing, and it’s causing confusion about where to invest advertising dollars.

Lewis Media Partners has been helping our clients navigate the changing media landscape for 25 years. The recent changes, although accelerated, aren’t inherently new. We’re accustomed to shifting tactics as needed to help our clients meet their goals. The constant that we lean on year after year and decade after decade? The  fundamentals of media planning. To deliver an effective and efficient media plan, you must begin with the fundamentals: Who is your target audience? Where do they live?  What are their interests and content habits? How often should you reach them? When should you advertise to them? These questions may seem elementary, but really diving into finding the answers is what can set media agencies apart. It takes time and the right resources to really understand each client’s target audience and then structure a strategic and efficient media plan accordingly.

By contrast, it can be tempting to start with the tactics, to jump into the latest and greatest… without really addressing the why of it. When we onboard new clients, we typically review any existing media plan they have in place to get up to speed on what the prior approach was. We recently reviewed a media plan that our client had paid a pretty penny for. And honestly? It was mediocre at best. Why? It lacked an understanding of the fundamentals of media planning.

We’re hearing it from a variety of sources. Some agencies have put training and fundamentals on the back burner. They’re focused on acquiring new business, and not on investing in their team and developing experts. They create tactical plans and not in depth strategic media plans. But with the endless channel options available to the consumer, it’s never been more important to take the time to understand and develop the structure of each media plan. It’s crucial. But it’s being skipped.

First, you nail down the fundamentals. Then, and only then, can you develop and deliver  the smart, well-researched strategy that clients are after. Deciding between advertising  on Facebook, TikTok, Search, Connected TV, Radio or the hundreds of other options  out there — it’s all informed by the overall goals and strategy. You simply shouldn’t put  the tactics before the plan. In the case mentioned above, the agency missed the  opportunity to gain a stronger reach by diluting the spend to cover more weeks. They  missed the mark by so much that no one could even recall seeing the advertising over an entire 3-month period. Which brought the client to us. Because the whole point of advertising is that your audience sees it, and it resonates with them.

The bottom line is that when you choose a media agency, you should be seeking three things at a minimum: a team that understands media plan fundamentals, who can develop a strong media strategy, and can execute in the recommended media channels. Lewis Media Partners delivers on all three fronts, and then some. Ready to work with an experienced media agency? Call or email us today, we’d love to talk.

Aurelia Lewis