One of my favorite jokes from this year's White House Correspondents' Dinner came from Joel McHale when he said, "Thanks to Obamacare…millions of newly insured young Americans can visit the doctor's office and see what a print magazine actually looks like."
While you can't help but laugh, it also reminds you that print advertising, something that was once a keystone of most media plans, is now a mere shadow of itself. The sadder thing is that this lack of use as an advertising medium has very little to do with readership and everything to do with a rush to use the new, shiny object in the room -- digital media. Although it's hard to argue its reach now, even in its infancy, before it had the reach it does today, digital media started stealing ad dollars from print and other "traditional media" without so much as a hint of research to discover if a product's target audience was even there.
This is a failing of an aspect of media planning called media mix or media usage analysis. This old-school marketing activity basically uses a collection of different data sources to determine, first and foremost, the types of media, including the internet, that your target uses on a regular basis.
For instance, here's some data that was part of a recent pitch that demonstrates this particular client's target audience is a heavy user of not only the internet (woo!), but also magazines, outdoor, and radio.
Without this type of research, the client may have jumped right into doing TV or newspapers, where their media buying activities would be the least cost-efficient.
Once you have this data in hand, media planners would usually work with other data sources to determine specific publications or websites. For instance, you may utilize comScore to determine a list of websites and programmatic ad networks that make for great candidates to become a part of the final media plan. Additionally, you can work with Google to determine other specific media usage habits, such as their propensity for mobile and tablet usage.
After you have all this data in hand, you can finally start the process of determining how much of your budget should be allocated to specific media tactics like paid search, display, mobile, and so on.
Don't have access to MRI, comScore, and a direct line to Google data? Trust me, with enough research, you can find out plenty of information about your target audience via sites like MarketingCharts.com, Compete, and countless others. But let me assure you, having the good data close by makes those arguments that the entire campaign should be TV-based a lot shorter.
So, the next time your boss/client bursts in and says they want to "own mobile," remind them that you're not even sure if you target is using the internet, much less doing so on mobile devices.
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Fascinating article, Jeff! A lot of articles about marketing in the digital age completely write off old-school marketing, but there are still valuable approaches from the old-school style. On our blog, we have a post about the challenge of developing a marketing strategy that will make an impact (http://blog.prosemedia.com/the-challenges-to-formulating-a-marketing-strategy-that-makes-an-impact/), and one of the things we mention is that you have to learn and react to data. This article has a well-put together argument as to why that's so important. Great job!
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