By Martin Thomas
President & Owner, Always On Communications
“I already know what media I need.”
“The people who buy my product don’t read magazines.”
“I don’t need media planning services – I already know where to advertise to my key prospects.”
We’ve all most likely heard statements like this before during our advertising and marketing careers. There is a certain type of person, and they exist on both the client-side and the agency-side, who decide what media they’re going to use before doing any research.
We wrote about this in one of our first blog posts over a year ago, called “The Art of Targeting”. We noted that this particular art is one that’s being lost, as marketers are starting to spend more time on understanding new technologies and how to achieve one-on-one relationships with their consumers in digital media and social media.
This is of course a very important step, but not at the expense of developing a rich, holistic target audience profile to understand the entirety of consumers’ media and shopping habits.
Developing target profiles is typically a skill learned by media planners, specifically general media planners who do not specialize in planning any one specific media type. This is important, as it means the person creating the target profile does not have any biases toward what media or media mix is best.
Consider this scenario: As a marketer, you ask a digital media planner to develop a target audience profile. Chances are very high that the digital media planner never learned how to pull data from a wide variety of research studies, nor do they have access to them. It’s very likely what you’d get back is simply a ranker of the top sites visited by the people that you as the marketer said were most likely to buy your product, based on your gut instincts.
An experienced, seasoned and well-rounded media planner, on the other hand, will take the information you provided on your customers as a mere starting point – and develop an in-depth target profile that will illustrate how likely the target is to use certain media types, how much they use each media type per day, their favorite method of watching videos (online, mobile, on traditional set-top boxes, etc.), where they prefer to do their shopping, if they listen to input from their friends on buying products or if they prefer to do their own research, how often they buy particular products, and so forth.
This type of profile is much more useful – as well as more actionable – than a mere ranker of sites (which is also important, but should only come after a detailed target audience profile, in conjunction with the objectives of the campaign, has indicated that using digital media is important for a particular advertising plan).
An unbiased approach in target profile development is necessary, if only to dissuade people of their gut instincts and predispositions. Recently, one group of marketers we worked with were convinced that by switching to a younger female target (essentially moms under the age of 35), they could rely entirely on a purely social media strategy to market their product.
Well, we did the requisite research, and it showed that “Millennial Moms” actually read more magazines than older moms, and consume more media in general than older women – including digital, magazines, television, radio, and yes, social media. Thusly, we were able to point out the fallacy in the marketer group’s guess-work – a singular strategy focusing on only one form of communications was not the best choice for this target. Not at all.
As digital media becomes more and more integrated into our everyday lives, it’s also becoming more and more integral to clients’ media plans. It deserves the same level of scrutiny, and respect, that has been given to traditional media over the years. But that analysis should start with a well thought-out target audience profile, not with calculating the efficient CPM of an online buy.
Martin Thomas is the Owner and President of Always On Communications, a full-service media planning and buying agency located in Pasadena, CA. If you would like more information about crafting an in-depth target profile, or media planning in general, please contact Martin at 626.698.0698 or email@example.com. Always On Communications always provides its clients and partner agencies with media recommendations rooted in solid planning methods, regardless of the medium.