Making an Ad Schedule

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Advertising pays its freight when it reaches the people you're aiming to influence with enough frequency to change their perceptions and actions.

The first step toward getting your ad dollars' worth is choosing the right media vehicles. The second step is setting the right ad schedule. The following sections help as you decide which media to use and how to put your ad schedule through the planning hurdles.

Matching media vehicles to your communication needs

Good media schedules include ads placed with media outlets that get your message in front of exactly the audiences you want to reach. For example:

1 If the objective of your advertising is to reach and influence your prospects and customers, place ads in media with audiences that match your customer profile (turn to Chapter 5 and complete the Customer Profile Worksheet if you're not sure how to define your customer).

For example, if you're branding a private golf club and you know your prospect pool is comprised of affluent golfers, you probably want to place ads in sports sections of newspapers, on golf tournament broadcasts, or in golfing magazines.

1 If the objective of your advertising is to reach and influence those who influence the success of your brand — through their investments, referrals, or for any other reason — create a definition of the kind of person you're working to reach and then find media outlets that count people who match that profile within their audiences.

For example, if you're branding a senior citizen assisted-living housing community, you may decide that your success depends upon referrals and recommendations from the attorneys, physicians, and adult children of your prospects. Therefore, in addition to advertising in publications that reach adults 75 and older, you also want to announce open houses and offer information packets in media outlets that reach physicians, attorneys, and middle-aged adults in your market area.

You need to know the definition of your target market before you can select the right media outlet for your ad. In most cases, a number of outlets fill the bill in terms of reaching your audience. When that's the case, you can make media selections based on which outlets best reach your market within the cost and timing realities you face. See the sidebar "The media menu" for a quick look the costs, placement considerations, and advantages of various media outlets.

The media menu

Mass media falls into a few widely recognized categories, each offering unique advertising requirements and advantages and each offering a number of media choices — from highly targeted vehicles that reach narrowly defined audiences to widely distributed vehicles that reach diverse audiences. In nearly all cases, you can expect to pay the most to reach the most targeted audiences.

Media Category

Cost Realities

Placement Facts

Advantages

Newspapers, which reach broad cross-sections of local, regional, or national populations

Reasonable cost to reach readers; reasonable ad production

Deadlines allow for quick placement decisions; ads are read immediately upon publication

Good at immediately reaching adults with new product and sale announcements

Magazines, which reach targeted audiences that share unique characteristics and interests

High cost to reach highly targeted audiences; high production costs to create visually competitive ads

Ad commitments are due months before the publication date; ads are read over a long time period from date of issue

Good at establishing credibility and building a competitive reputation over time

Out-of-home media, which reaches audiences in target geographic areas on a repeated basis

Costs are based on ad traffic counts and audience exposure

Prime locations are reserved far in advance billboard ad commitments usually span multimonth periods

Good at building name awareness and conveying single-sentence messages

Radio, which reaches audiences with defined interests, often in concise geographic areas

Costs are low and negotiable except during peak listening times; quality ad production enhances image and impact

Ads must run repeatedly to catch listeners; stations welcome last-minute ads except during peak periods

Good at building immediate interest and prompting responses

Television, which reaches audiences with defined interests via network or local-station ad buys

Costs soar when audience counts are high; quality ad production requires a significant budget

Ads must run repeatedly to catch viewers; ads in prime-time slots are expensive and hard to reserve

Good at building credibility, engaging viewers, and showing or demonstrating products

Online media, which reaches Web users with site ads, directory listings, search engine ads, digital communications, and links to and from related sites

Costs are usually based on ad views or clicks, making online ads among the most measurable ad investments; production costs are low

Ads on major sites book far in advance and at increasingly high prices; pay-per-click ads can be placed on short notice and can be quickly replaced if they aren't drawing results

Good at reaching targeted online users with call-to-action messages that prompt click-through responses to obtain more information

Balancing advertising reach and frequency

Media schedules balance two objectives:

1 Reach: The size of the audience that will be exposed to your ad. Print media outlets use subscriber or circulation figures to describe their reach, whereas broadcast outlets base their reach on the number of people who see or hear an ad.

1 Frequency: The number of times the average person is exposed to an ad message over a specified time period of usually one month or less.

Most marketers agree that reach creates broad awareness whereas frequency creates recognition, understanding, and responses.

Betting on frequency over reach

Unless your entire objective is to gain widespread awareness, plan your media schedule to limit your reach and to increase your frequency by concentrating ad buys in media that reach a highly targeted audience on a frequent basis.

¡^NG/ The opposite of frequency is to try to create a big splash with a showy, one-shot ad — perhaps a full-page ad in newspapers or magazines or a bazilliondollar airing on a high-ticket television broadcast like the Super Bowl. The problem is that even high-impact ad buys miss a portion of the target audience. Some readers or viewers aren't available when your ad runs or airs, and if you've placed all your bets on a one-time schedule, you don't have the chance to reach them again.

When planning your schedule, factor in these advertising realities:

1 Most media planners say that you need to place your ad nine times to reach your target prospect once for the simple reason that, at any given time, a portion of the potential audience is tuned out, distracted, or just not in the mood or mindset to hear what you're saying.

1 Media schedulers also factor in the fact that you need to reach a prospect as many as three times to achieve attention, interest, desire, and action.

1 Most ads need to run or air up to 27 times to do the job you want them to do.

There are exceptions, of course. If your ad runs or airs via a publication or program that reaches a highly devoted audience that reads or tunes in almost without fail, you can get away with a schedule that runs your ad fewer times. Be aware, though, that the budget requirement is about the same either way because media outlets charge a premium for ad buys that reach highly targeted and devoted audiences.

Stretching dollars by concentrating on fewer media outlets

To gain frequency within your target market without breaking the bank, limit your media schedule to a few media outlets.

For example, instead of running your ad one time each in six magazines, run it three times in the two that best reach your audience. Or rather than running a light newspaper schedule and a light radio schedule, choose one or the other and run a heavy schedule that achieves the kind of frequency that changes minds and moves markets.

By concentrating your schedule, you gain a number of advantages.

1 You take advantage of discounted rates offered by media to high-volume advertisers.

i You save on production costs by creating ads for fewer media outlets.

1 You increase visibility in your selected outlets, contributing to a perception of brand strength and clout in the minds of the readers or viewers.

1 You reach the audiences of your selected outlets on a more frequent basis than would be possible if you were to divide your budget among a longer list of media outlets.

Scheduling your ads

Few advertisers run heavy, continual ad schedules week-in and week-out, 52 weeks a year. Instead, most advertisers vary their ad presence by following one of the scheduling plans shown in Figure 11-1.

Figure 11-1:

Marketers use a variety of ad scheduling patterns to create visibility and awareness.

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

June

July

Aug

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

Continual

Flighting

Front Loading

Heavy-Up

Pulsing

The types of schedule patterns are

1 Continual schedules, which run week-in and week-out for as long as the marketer advertises. They're used to maintain ongoing awareness. Some continual ad schedules involve ongoing placement of big, splashy ads; for example, an ad may appear on the back cover of every issue of a magazine. However, many continual ad schedules are more economical, involving placement of small-space ads that run on a continuous basis in magazines or local newspapers.

i Flighting schedules, which run ads in bursts. They usually start with a heavy ad buy that makes a strong enough market impression to carry the brand through a dormant ad period. After the dormant period, the marketer comes back in with a light ad schedule to renew awareness, followed by another dormant period and then by a heavy schedule that typically coincides with a buying season or marketing opportunity.

1 Front-loading schedules, which begin with a heavy ad schedule. They aim to saturate the market with impressions before pulling back to a more economical, maintenance-level schedule that sustains the awareness and interest generated during the schedule launch. Front-loading schedules are a good choice for announcing new brands or business openings, promoting new products, or revitalizing lagging sales.

1 Heavy-up schedules, which are similar to front-loading schedules except that they involve several saturation ad periods, also known as ad blitzes. They're used to create and keep a high level of market awareness by alternating intense ad schedules with low-level continual schedules in between.

1 Pulsing schedules, which run ads on an on-and-off basis. On a sustaining basis, the marketer runs a moderate schedule, goes dormant, runs another moderate schedule, and then goes dormant again. Pulsing schedules are rarely used for launches or to rev up interest, but rather they're used to maintain awareness after it's established.

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Top 100 Golf Tips For Every Golfer

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