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Part III | Media Buying / Trading Audiences
In my first post on this topic I touched on Pen Portraits, Personas & Attitudinal Audiences.
This was to share how in my opinion, they’re super useful for the design of communications, but less so for the construction of a media plan.
In my second post I dived deeper into Category Buyers.
Emphasising how I try to pull apart who is and who isn’t buying from a category into different segments, and put them back together again to understand who a brand actually needs to actually deliver communications to in order to grow.
Using that new understanding of what’s going on in a market, to unpack what might really stand in the way of growth.
All of the above, is academic however, unless you have a tangible sense of how much investment is required to reach the right amount of people, in the right contexts, in the right ways… to get them to think, feel and act in the way you wish them to.
Which is why I thought it would be helpful to round off this first topic by touching on Media Buying / Trading Audiences.
Helpfully each media channel (and in many cases each vendor within each channel) trade their valued commodity, attention, in many different ways.
Some rules of thumb on how vendors trade their audiences
Regardless of the trading mechanism, four rules of thumb come into play when thinking about which channels you might use, or contexts you may wish your brand to show up within or alongside, to connect with the audience as you’ve defined them.
Firstly… audiences are traded like any other commodity.
The scarcer the audience, or the more highly demanded they are by advertisers, the more you pay to reach each person.
Secondly…for every layer of specificity that you add to the targeting of any media you buy, be that the type of person you wish to reach, or the contexts you would like to reach that person within, the price you pay to reach each person tends to go up accordingly as illustrated by the graphic below.
For example it will cost more to reach someone watching Succession, rather than Loose Women. Or reading The Economist, rather than The Sun.
Thirdly… The audiences that broadcast media such as TV, Outdoor, Newspapers, Magazines & Radio etc will be willing to trade, will rarely be a perfect fit with those you might wish to reach on an ongoing basis to grow the brand.
This means you’ll need to figure out which traded audience on offer by the vendor, is the best fit both thematically and mathematically with your target audience and what you’re trying to achieve.
Let me illustrate this with an example.
If you’re launching a new beer brand for young adults, you can’t ask the TV station to “only show our adverts to your young beer drinkers please” - you’ll need to choose between a range of audiences they trade such as 18-34s or All Adults, then calculate which of those traded audiences on offer will enable you to reach the most of your real target audience for each $ you invest.
You can do this by using a number of different panel-based tools to figure out in this instance which % of that TV station, or a particular TV program’s traded audience, crosses over with your desired target audience.
This will enable you to compare and contrast the relative cost of reaching the real people your campaign needs to reach, to achieve your desired outcomes, in different media channels, formats and placements.
Lastly… the larger or longer the format, the more you’ll most likely end up paying for each person you reach as well.
Crudely, in broadcast media, the price will go up at a placement level.
A 60 second spot takes up twice the amount of space in an ad-break as a 30 second spot, so the vendor will charge you doubleish. The same goes for printed media such as newspapers, magazines or outdoor billboards.
In digital media however, the cost of each person you reach might be similar, but because people can skip or flick past it a little easier, the price goes up when you start to calculate the cost of someone getting to the end of your epic 3 minute manifesto ad on YouTube.
Reach and response curves can help make better choices
Therefore, when building out the foundations of what will later become the media plan, I try to sense-check the out-of-market and in-market audiences as I have defined them, with the relative cost of media to reach them, in the channels, contexts and formats that make the most sense to deliver a campaign’s objectives.
Working top-down using a reach-curve like the graphic below, to understand how much investment it will take to reach the broader category buyer audience as I have defined it, in meaningful ways throughout the year.
Not just calculating these figures for the total campaign, but for each week a campaign is live so optimisations can be made. Either on how the campaign is flighted across time, or what the proposed channels and formats might be in a given week.
Or working bottom up using a Response Curve to understand…
1. How much it costs to drive visits to a website, sales via an eCOM merchant, or downloads of an app via which channels that are under consideration
2. The relative conversion rate of these paid activities into revenue and profit
3. The cost of incremental sales at different investment levels to ensure in-market media tactics are still delivering profitable sales and growth for a client
Another crude example.
If I’m a marketer at Peloton, it may be really cost-efficient to convert sales using paid-search for keywords such as “Peloton” or “Exercise Bike”, where the people you’re paying to reach are already likely to be interested, or a really good fit with what your product is offering.
However there are only so many people searching for those. Not enough to sufficiently grow anyway.
When you start to broaden the in-market tactics to grow, for example by using paid search to reach people searching for more generic terms such as “getting fit” or competitive terms such as “gyms near me”, you’re much less likely to convert those people from browsers, to buyers.
This means that even if the cost of each click is the same, your conversion rates from clicks to sales will drop, meaning the relative cost of each conversion will go upwards accordingly - thus nudging you up to the point of diminishing or even damaging returns.
So there’s a quite a bit to get your head around at first in these first three posts. Especially if you’re new to media planning, or some of the nuance within it.
The main things I hope you takeaway from this topic are as follows.
Part I | Pen Portraits and Attitudinal Audiences
Are helpful for brand positioning, less so constructing media plans. Design for the attitude but always aim to deliver to the collective category buying base where resources allow.
Part II | Category Buyers | Out-of-Market vs. In-Market Audiences
Construct a category view of who is buying from the category relative to who is buying your brand, to better understand what your advertising and communications really needs to achieve.
How does your brand or business index against the population, the category and the segment? What types of people buy you vs. used to buy you vs. are outright rejectors of your brand? When are they coming into market, how do they do so and why? Which group of people am I measuring the success of this campaign against and why?
Being armed with this info will help unpack what the opportunities are to drive growth and what might stand in your way. As well as building a stronger argument for certain choices that might rub up against what you may have originally been briefed.
Part III | Media Buying / Trading Audiences
Learn the relative cost of reaching audiences in different channels and contexts.
In doing so you’ll have a clear sense of how much it will cost to do what you need to for a client or colleague, sooner rather than later in the process.
This can help you build the case for sufficient media budget… help your creative teams focus their creativity into suitable channels and contexts… help your buying teams build more robust media plans that are likely to be successful.
The sooner you figure it out, the more it might be able to help other parts of a client’s in-house or x-agency team.
Once you have a trail of logic that links these 3 audiences in your mind, then you can start to better answer the brief and create some magic, to follow this admittedly heavy dose of logic.
More on that next time…where B will be for Better Briefs