With so many choices in media today, evaluating advertising
is increasingly challenging. Many years of experience and sophisticated tools,
sometimes, cannot prevent marketers from making five common mistakes in media
selection. I have outlined them below.
First mistake: Investing in the
station/newspaper/website that you and your friends like.
With quite some regularity we hear comments like, “I listen
to that station all the time.” Or “I’ve never even heard of that website.” Or
“All of my friends watch that program.” And you know what? We admit that it
does feel good to hear your brand’s spot on your favorite radio station. It is
exciting when friends and family mention hearing it. But making media planning
decisions based on a focus group of family and friends misses the point, which
is: Is that where your customers live? Especially with today’s technological
abilities to target audiences, rather than mediums, it’s more important than
ever to understand your target audience and follow their media habits, rather
than your own. Another important point here is that your favorite medium, even
if it mirrors your customers, may not be the most financially efficient area. You
want a qualitative analysis of a medium’s match to your clients, but also a
quantitative analysis of reach, frequency and cost per impression to ensure the
highest and best use of your ad dollars.
Second mistake:Underestimating the importance
of good creative and content.
In today’s advertising world, the distinction between media
and creative is becoming blurred. For example, is a Facebook promoted post an
investment in media, creative or public relations? Further complicating
matters, consumers are in control of media consumption. They can time shift,
ad-skip and select an ad-free content model. Therefore, it’s more important
than ever for advertisers to earn attention. A bad ad can actually harm your
brand, wasting ad dollars. A great ad can go viral and exponentially increase
your exposure and “earned” media. We’ve seen cases where a brand will allow the
media outlet to create the ad, without expert direction. This sometimes creates
“rookie” mistakes like:missed address/phone/contact information; bad
stock photography; misspelled/mispronounced brand name; wrong
font/color/announcer for product. Quality content can lower necessary media
Third mistake:Get distracted with the shiny new
Remember when we said the first mistake was selecting the
media outlet against personal bias? Getting distracted by the shiny new toy is
the opposite side of the same coin. Often marketers will read about an
innovative new technology or ad model and want to participate without thinking
through how it elevates their message. For example, remember in 2006 there was
this cool new site called “Facebook”? Everyone who’s anyone HAD to be there.
But was Facebook an appropriate advertisingtactic, considering
advertising was limited to a few characters and one thumbnail image? Social
media can absolutely drive sales, but does the nature of your brand’s product
facilitate a social conversation? Do you have the internal resources to provide
consistent, compelling content? Take another example: many marketers are infatuated
with “big data,” with one example being the powerful analytics Google provides.
But are you getting bogged down with data? Are you jumping to conclusions
before a search or display campaign has had time to mature?
Fourth mistake: Underspending or overspending
Often marketers who buy media directly will purchase an
“affordable” medium. They interpret affordability in actual costs. But, under
quantitative analysis, the marketer has actually overspent, by investing in a
medium whose cost per impression, against the marketer’s target audience, is
much higher than more efficient, competing mediums. Or a marketer may purchase
a number of spots in a broadcast medium, without regard to reach and frequency
goals, and underhit the mark. In this case, the marketer has underspent and,
had he invested properly, would have seen a positive return.
Some marketers feel pressure to demonstrate an immediate
return and look for results before a campaign has had time to “season.” This
premature evaluation will lead to trying one tactic for a month, then skipping
to another the next month, all in the hopes of finding the silver bullet. This
is dangerous for two reasons: 1) the campaign may not have had enough time to
allow the development of a relationship with the target audience 2) media
success is more often a result of media mix modeling than one particular
Like the fortune teller who didn’t recognize that her
payment was counterfeit, it can be really, really difficult to craft a media
plan with an outside perspective. A good agency will have the quantitative
tools to provide the proper analysis, to map a media strategy to business goals
and the experience and wisdom to add a creative flair.
Marilois Snowman is founder of Mediastruction,
specializing in media planning, media strategy and media buying.