Effective media planning in a recession

Date posted: March 26, 2013

Odette van der Haar ?>

A MarkLives column by Odette van der Haar (@odette_roper), CEO, Association for Communication and Advertising Media planning is an ever-shifting discipline.  It is a continuous process of reviewing media data (ratings, demographics, rankings, clicks) combined with a great deal of research and, of course, negotiation to deliver the best media schedule for a campaign. In a recession, a good media planner becomes even more crucial.

This is because clients and agencies are held to deliver value, a return on investment and/or a return on objectives. It is also because different Odette van der Haarchannels are clamouring for marketing spend, making it critical for the media planner strategically develop the communications campaign strategy.

In the run-up to the APEX awards which are all about on defining effectiveness in advertising and communications, I thought it appropriate to scrutinise what makes for effective media planning in a recession.

APEX judge and CEO of media specialist organisation Mindshare, Maria Phillips, had this to say:“If clients can manage it in their budgets, we try to encourage them to ensure their Share of Voice (SOV) is higher than their Share of Market (SOM)in a recession. Over the years, research has regularly proven that if you do outspend relative to your competition, an increase in market share tends to follow, as you come out of the recession.”

“However, even more importantly and especially when we talk about double-dip recessions, is that if good, solid investment is made in a brand, it actually becomes recession-proof, thereby increasing its resilience in hard markets as opposed to competitors.”

It may sound counter-intuitive but this is a time to gain a competitive advantage and really entrench the brand in the market. Likewise, companies that retract branding during a recession have real trouble emerging once the economy has turned around.

Phillips also notes that in a recession, brands tend to cut down on the number of channels used. “If, for example, a brand usually spends on TV as a primary medium, in an economic downturn, it will put all its remaining funds into only television. However, we recommend that medium-to-large brands be brave and cover at least three to four different mediums in order to achieve effective reach. Consolidating spend into a single channel works to the detriment of the brand in the longer-term.”

I also found an interesting snippet that furthers this insight and bears outs the advice that many marketers and agencies give in the boardroom, i.e. if you have a brilliant ad campaign, make sure it’s supported with a great digital media strategy.

A recent study conducted by Harris Interactive around TV and tablet usage showed that there is a symbiotic usage of television and the Internet. What happens is that television prompts users to research a product or service on a tablet. 71% of people between the ages of 18-34 indicated that they use their tablet to look up information on a product/service after seeing a television commercial. And, by the way, if you want a case study, just look in my living room on a Saturday afternoon.

It is an ever-changing world and the job of media planning has become an increasingly strategic function. Whilst questions like: how an audience utilises media, whether some media are dying and which are growing ahead of others, as well which makes the most sense for the target audience will always be worrying for an advertise – media planning is one of those disciplines in  advertising and communications that truly balances magic and logic to deliver effectiveness.

– Odette van der Haar (nee Roper) is the CEO of the Association for Communication and Advertising (ACA) which is the recognised industry body of the advertising and communications profession in South Africa.