Introduction to Media Planning

Media planning is the process of identifying and selecting media outlets in which to place paid advertisements.

This 5minute case study will explain:

– What is Media Planning and Buying?

–  Media Planning key terminology 

– Key Media Planning Strategies


What is Media Planning?

Media Planning is the process of selecting the optimal combination of media outlets for advertising a particular marketing message.

Until recent times Classical ecocomics theory assumed people would always make optimal decisions that provide them with the greatest benefit and satisfaction.  It was considered that people would choose the option that maximizes their individual satisfaction. This theory assumes that people are capable of making rational decisions by effectively weighing the costs and benefits of each option available to them.

A media planner’s job is to develop a media plan for a particular client’s advertising budget. They decide where, when, how and how often an ad should show.

Media planning is a science designed to generate maximum sales from all the advertising your company invests in. It involves researching the market and competition, identifying target audiences, analyzing, comparing, planning, and working around a brand’s budget. Often, the more the planner can reach the largest number of people in target audience group, the better odds for results.

In today’s competitive landscape, serving the right message, at the right time, on the right channel is critical.   Media plans will split advertising spend between various online and offline channels such as broadcast, print,  online or native content.

What is Media Buying?

Media buying falls into the paid media category and generally means the procurement of media space and time for ad creatives. 

Media Buying is the process where an individual or agency takes the insights from the media planner and begins to find and negotiate buying ad space across the intended media channels.

This can be automated or done manually depending on preference, objectives, audience, budget, etc.

When buying media, the goal is to find the right place, time and context to deliver relevant ads to the target audience and increase conversion rates, sales or brand awareness.

Media buying can be compared to stock exchange brokers or real-estate agents.. Buying media is a time-based process, meaning the buyer is paying for “renting” an ad placement from a publisher inexchange of a set fee.


Types of Media in Advertising


The media mix included in media plans will vary greatly dependent on the aim and objectives of campaigns. Factors such as charecteristics of the target audience, the creative scope and capabilities of brand assets and available budgets are also key factors that affect the media selection.

The core  media types used within advertisers media mix include:

TV Advertising

A broadcast medium, Television advertising is one of the most expensive yet effective types of advertising.

Radio Advertising

Radio advertisements are broadcast medium. Airtime is purchased from a station or network in exchange for airing the commercials

Online / Digital Advertising

Online advertising is a form of promotion that uses the web – apps – connected devices for marketing messages

Print Advertising

Print advertising describes advertising in a printed medium such as a newspaper, magazine, or trade journal.

Outdoor Advertising

Large structures located in public places which display advertisements to passing pedestrians and motorists. 

Sponsorship Advertising

Sponsorship/Product Placements  Covert advertising is when a product or brand is embedded in entertainment and media.

Direct Marketing

The of selling products or services directly to the public using direct response channels (ie. vouchers, emails, tele-sales)

Guerilla Marketing

Guerrilla marketing is an advertisement style  where audiences are targeted with  unconventional interactions in order to promote a product or service.


Key Media Planning Terminology

Marketers and Advertisers love their jargon. The accronyms and basic terminology used may sound initimadating at first, but fear not, the concepts are pretty straightforward. 
Popular media planning terminology incldue: 


Reach is the number of people you want to get in front of during a particular timeframe.


Frequency is the number of times your target customers will see your ad.


Cost Per Thousand is the cost of advertising calculated by dividing total cost by thousands of customers reached.


Impressions are the number of times your content is displayed, no matter if it was clicked or not.

Cognition lab

Types of Media Planning Techniques

Media Planners use a range of tools and tecnqieues when planning campaigns. One of the most populartimings approach is Burst – Drip or Pulse strategy.

Burst   involves a great surge of ads in a relatively short space of time. The burst strategy suits new (frequecncy) and seasonal (timeliness) products.

Drip  stretches your advertising coverage over a longer period with a slow burn effect. This often suits brands with no seasonal peak such as supermarkets

Pulse  strategy tends to adopt a ‘week on, week off’ output. Good If brand has a fairly modest budget but wants to remain on the air as long as possible.

Always on strategy …


Largest Media Planning Agencies 2020

The media sector is scomeptitive landscape where many international and independent agencies compete against each other. Someof the key players in 2020 based on annual billings and head counts are:

Mediccom Media Agecny logo

MediaCom (WPP)

MediaCom is part of the UK’s most successful full service media and planning agency.

saatchi & saatchi media planning agency logo

Saatchi & Saatchi

 S&S are a full service agency, with 114 offices in 67 countries. Saatchi & Saatchi is part of the Publicis Groupe

adam & eve media planning  agency logo


Partnered with Omnicom – Adam&Eve/DDB have 250 staff, with hq located in London.


A symbolic media agency, reputed for attracting talent withhin the sector. Ogilvy offers a brand association company want to tie into.

"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur."

– Red Adair

"Planning without action is futile, action without planning is fatal."

– Cornelius Fichtner


“If you’re looking for the next big thing, and you’re looking where everyone else is, you’re looking in the wrong place.”

 – Mark Cuban


“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” 

-Peter Drucker

“We all are emotional beings looking for relevance, context and connection.” 

– Beth Comstock

“Our job is to connect to people, to interact with them in a way that leaves them better than we found them, more able to get where they’d like to go.” 

– Seth Godin