Advertising media selection

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Advertising media selection is the process of choosing the most cost-effective media for advertising, to achieve the required coverage and number of exposures in a target audience.

Performance[edit]

This is typically measured on two dimensions: frequency and spread.

Frequency[edit]

To maximize overall awareness, the advertising must reach the maximum number of the target audience. There is a limit for the last few percent of the general population who don't see the main media advertisers use. These are more expensive to reach. The 'cumulative' coverage cost typically follows an exponential curve. Reaching 90 percent can cost double what it costs to reach 70 percent, and reaching 95 percent can double the cost yet again. In practice, the coverage decision rests on a balance between desired coverage and cost. A large budget achieves high coverage—a smaller budget limits the ambitions of the advertiser.

  1. Frequency—Even with high coverage, it is insufficient for a target audience member to have just one 'Opportunity To See' (OTS) the advertisement. In traditional media, around five OTS are believed required for a reasonable impact. To build attitudes that lead to brand switching may require more. To achieve five OTS, even in only 70 percent of the overall audience, may require 20 or 30 peak-time transmissions of a commercial, or a significant number of insertions of press advertisements in the national media. As these figures suggest, most consumers simply don't see the commercials that often (whereas the brand manager, say, sees every one and has already seen them many times before their first transmission, and so is justifiably bored).

The life of advertising campaigns can often extend beyond the relatively short life usually expected. Indeed, as indicated above, some research shows that advertisements require significant exposure to consumers before they even register. As David Ogilvy long ago recommended, "If you are lucky enough to write a good advertisement, repeat it until it stops selling. Scores of good advertisements have been discarded before they lost their potency."

Spread[edit]

More sophisticated media planners also look at the 'spread' of frequencies. Ideally all of the audience should receive the average number of OTS. Those who receive fewer are insufficiently motivated, and extra advertising is wasted on those who receive more. It is, of course, impossible to achieve this ideal. As with coverage, the pattern is weighted towards a smaller number—of heavy viewers, for example—who receive significantly more OTS, and away from the difficult last few percent. However, a good media buyer manages the resulting spread of frequencies to weigh it close to the average, with as few audience members as possible below the average.

Frequency is also complicated by the fact that this is a function of time. A pattern of 12 OTS across a year may be scarcely noticed, whereas 12 OTS in a week is evident to most viewers. This is often the rationale for advertising in `bursts' or `waves' (sometimes described as `pulsing'). This concentrates expenditure into a number of intense periods of advertising, spread throughout the year, so brands do not remain uncovered for long periods.

Media Buyers[edit]

In the end, it is the media buyers who deliver the goods; by negotiating special deals with the media owners, and buying the best parcels of `slots' to achieve the best cost (normally measured in terms of the cost per thousand viewers, or per thousand household `impressions', or per thousand impressions on the target audience. The "best cost" can also be measured by the cost per lead, in the case of direct response marketing). The growth of the very large, international, agencies has been partly justified by their increased buying power over the media owners.

Types of Media and Their Characteristics[edit]

In terms of overall advertising expenditures, media advertising is still dominated by Press and television, which are of comparable size (by value of 'sales'). Posters and radio follow some way behind, with cinema representing a very specialist medium.

Press[edit]

In the United Kingdom, spending is dominated by the national & regional newspapers, the latter taking almost all the classified advertising revenue. The magazines and trade or technical journal markets are about the same size as each other, but are less than half that of the newspaper sectors.

Television[edit]

This is normally the most expensive medium, and as such is generally only open to the major advertisers, although some regional contractors offer more affordable packages to their local advertisers. It offers by far the widest coverage, particularly at peak hours (roughly 7.00–10.30 p.m.) and especially of family audiences. Offering sight, sound, movement and colour, it has the greatest impact, especially for those products or services where a 'demonstration' is essential; since it combines the virtues of both the 'story-teller' and the `demonstrator'. To be effective, these messages must be simple and able to overcome surrounding family life distractions especially the TV remote.

Radio[edit]

Radio advertising has increased greatly in recent years, with the granting of many more licenses. It typically reaches specific audiences at different times of the day—adults at breakfast, housewives during the day, and commuters during rush hours. It can be a cost-effective way of reaching these audiences—especially since production costs are much cheaper than for television, though the lack of visual elements may limit the message. In radio advertising it is important to identify the right timing to reach specific radio listeners. For instance, many people only listen to the radio when they are stuck in traffic, whereas other listeners may only listen in the evenings. The 24-hour availability of radio is helpful to reach a variety of customer sub-segments. In addition, it is a well-established medium to reach rural areas.

Cinema[edit]

Though national audience numbers are down, this may be the most effective medium for extending coverage to younger age groups, since the core audience is 15 to 35.

Internet/Web Advertising[edit]

This rapidly growing marketing force borrows much from the example of press advertising, but the most effective use—adopted by search engines—is interactive.

Mobile Advertising[edit]

Personal mobile phones have become an attractive advertising media to network operators, but are relatively unproven and remain in media buyers' sidelines.

Audience Research[edit]

Identifying the audience for a magazine or newspaper, or determining who watches television at a given time, is a specialized form of market research, often conducted on behalf of media owners.

Press figures are slightly complicated by the fact that there are two measures: readership (total number of readers of a publication, no matter where they read it), and circulation (the number of copies actually sold, which is mostly independently validated).

Advertising-free media[edit]

Advertising-free media refers to media outlets whose output is not funded or subsidized by the sale of advertising space. It includes in its scope mass media entities such as websites, television and radio networks, and magazines.

The public broadcasters of a number of countries air without commercials. Perhaps the best known example of this is the United Kingdom's public broadcaster, the BBC, whose domestic networks do not carry commercials. Instead, the BBC, in common with most other public broadcasters in Europe, is funded by a television licence fee levied on the owners of all television sets.

A 2006 report by the Senate of Canada suggested that the country's public broadcaster, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, be funded sufficiently by the federal government so that it could air without any advertising.[1]

Advertising media scheduling[edit]

Scheduling refers to the pattern of advertising timing, represented as plots on a yearly flowchart. These plots indicate the pattern of scheduled times advertising must appear to coincide with favorable selling periods. The classic scheduling models are Continuity, Flighting and Pulsing.

Continuity[edit]

This model is primarily for non-seasonal products, yet sometimes for seasonal products. Advertising runs steadily with little variation over the campaign period.

There may be short gaps at regular intervals and also long gaps—for instance, one ad every week for 52 weeks, and then a pause. This pattern of advertising is prevalent in service and packaged goods that require continuous reinforcement on the audience for top of mind recollection at point of purchase.

Advantages:

  • Works as a reminder
  • Covers the entire purchase cycle
  • Cost efficiencies in the form of large media discounts
  • Positioning advantages within media

Program or plan that identifies the media channels used in an advertising campaign, and specifies insertion or broadcast dates, positions, and duration of the messages.

Flighting (or "bursting")[edit]

In media scheduling for seasonal product categories, flighting involves intermittent and irregular periods of advertising, alternating with shorter periods of no advertising at all. For instance, all of 2000 Target Rating Poinered in a single month, "going dark" for the rest of the year.[clarification needed] Halloween costumes are rarely purchased all year except during the months of September and October.

Advantages:

  • Advertisers buy heavier weight than competitors for a relatively shorter period of time
  • Little waste, since advertising concentrates on the best purchasing cycle period
  • Series of commercials appear as a unified campaign on different media vehicles

Pulsing[edit]

Pulsing combines flighting and continuous scheduling by using a low advertising level all year round and heavy advertising during peak selling periods. Product categories that are sold year round but experience a surge in sales at intermittent periods are good candidates for pulsing. For instance, under-arm deodorants, sell all year, but more in summer months.

Advantages:

  • Covers different market situations
  • Advantages of both continuity and flighting possible

References[edit]