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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.


[edit] Performance

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

[edit] Frequency

To maximize overall awareness, the advertising must reach the maximum number of the target audience. There is a limit for the last few per cent 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 per cent can cost double what it costs to reach 70 per cent, and reaching 95 per cent 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 per cent 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."

[edit] Spread

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.

[edit] Media Buyers

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.

[edit] Types of Media and Their Characteristics

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.

[edit] Press

In the United Kingdom, spending is dominated by the national and 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.

  • National newspapers - These are still traditionally categorized, from the media buyer's viewpoint, on the basis of class; even though this is of declining importance to many advertisers. `Quality' newspapers for example, tend to have a readership profile of in excess of 80 per cent of ABC1 readers, though it is more difficult to segment readerships by age categories. They are obviously best matched to national advertisers who are happy with black and white advertisements, although colour is now available - and high-quality colour is available in some supplements. National newspapers in general, and the quality Press in particular, are supposed to carry more `weight' with their readers (since they are deliberately read, not treated just as `background'); so that an advertisement placed in one is taken more seriously than a comparable one in a regional newspaper, although it may be more transitory (since it is not kept for reference as some local weeklies may be).
  • Regional newspapers—These may be dailies, which look and perform much like the nationals, or weeklies, which are more specialized, though they dominate the classified advertising market. There is usually much more advertising competing for the reader's attention, and the weekly newspaper is now largely the province of the `free-sheet'—typically delivered free to all homes in a given area—which earn revenue from their high proportion of advertising, and accordingly having the least `weight' of all.

Advertisements in newspapers, referred to as `insertions', are usually specified as so many centimetres across so many columns. In these days of metrication, a multiple of 3 cm is used as the standard measure in the UK, instead of the previously traditional inch. Thus, a `30 cm double' is an advertisement that is 30 cm long, down the page, and across two columns of type; where the width of columns varies from paper to paper - an important consideration when you are having the printing `blocks' made. The position is also often specified; so that, for example, an advertiser of a unit trust will probably pay extra to make certain that the insertion is next to the financial pages.

  • Magazines—These offer a more selective audience (which is more `involved', with the editorial content at least). Magazines are traditionally categorized into general interest, special interest and trade or technical. The advertiser will, therefore, be able to select those that match the specific profile demanded by the advertising strategy. The weight, or `authority', of magazines is correspondingly high, and they may be kept for a considerable time for use as reference - and passed to other readers (so that `readership' figures may be much higher than `circulation' figures). They can offer excellent colour printing; but, again, the clutter of many competing advertisements may reduce the impact of the advertiser's message.
  • Trade and technical - In the trade and professional fields there are now a significant number of `controlled circulation' magazines. These are like the `free Press', in that they are delivered free to the recipients; but, at least in theory, those recipients should have been carefully screened to ensure that they are of value to the advertisers - and the circulation can, if properly controlled, represent a wide cross-section of the buyers, and influencers, in the advertiser's target audience. The rates for positioning are usually more varied than for newspapers, with premiums being paid for facing editorial matter and, of course, for colour.

[edit] Television

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.

Television is relatively unselective, and offers relatively poor coverage of upper class and younger age groups. Being regionally based, however, it can be used for regional trials or promotions (including test markets).

The price structures can be complicated, with the `rate card' (the price list) offering different prices for different times throughout the day. This is further complicated by a wide range of special promotional packages and individual negotiations. This complication provides work for specialist media buyers.

  • Satellite television—long believed the medium of the future, as once was cable television— has largely fulfilled that expectation in the US. It is now an important feature in other countries, though terrestrial 'freeview' broadcasting poses a challenge.

[edit] Posters

This is something of a specialist medium, which is generally used in support of campaigns using other media. On the other hand, some advertisers, particularly those in brewing and tobacco, have successfully made significant use of the medium; although, to achieve this, they have developed the requisite expertise to make efficient use of its peculiarities.

The main roadside posters are described in terms of how the poster is physically posted on to them (pasted on, one sheet at a time, by a bill-poster); as 16 sheet (the main, 10' x 6'8" size in vertical format) and 48 sheet (10' x 20', in horizontal/landscape format). Those smaller ones, seen in pedestrian areas, are typically four sheet (5' x 3'4"). The best sites are typically reserved for the long-term clients, mainly the brewers and tobacco companies (hence one reason for their success in use of the medium), so that new users may find this a relatively unattractive medium.

This industry is also known as Out of Home Media. However, this category is not limited to posters and billboards. It may involve the use of media space in airports, malls, convenience stores, etc., and it could even tie into guerilla marketing, a nontraditional approach to advertising that may involve grassroots tactics (e.g. posting branded stickers or static clings to buildings, restrooms, and other surfaces in metropolitan areas).

In Malaysia there are numerous sizes from 10'x40', 20'x60', 20'x80' to 40'x60'. In both formats..Landscape and portrait. Current Outdoor Media Owners include Seni Jaya and Big Tree.

[edit] Radio

Radio advertising has increased greatly in recent years, with the granting of many more licenses. It typically generates specific audiences at different times of the day—adults at breakfast, housewives, and commuters during rush hours. It can be a cost-effective way of reaching these audiences—especially since production costs are much cheaper than television, though the lack of visual elements may limit the message.

[edit] Cinema

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 24.

[edit] Internet/Web Advertising

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

[edit] Mobile Advertising

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

[edit] Audience Research

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.

[edit] Advertising-free media

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].

[edit] Advertising media scheduling

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.

[edit] Continuity

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.


  • 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.

[edit] Flighting (or ‘bursting’)

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 Points may be delivered in a single month, ‘going dark’ for the rest of the year. Halloween costumes are rarely purchased all year except during the months of September and October.


  • 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

[edit] Pulsing

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.


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

[edit] References