So, you’ve struck gold with an Earth-shattering idea for your new marketing campaign. Now all you have to do is send it out into the world, let advertising’s natural course take place, and watch your brand reap the rewards.

But, the Earth wasn’t shattered. And it didn’t it change your brand or its story forever either.

What happens when your campaign doesn’t entirely deliver on its goals?

The issue might not be what the creative says, but rather, where you placed it.

Even if you have the world’s strongest visuals and call to action, if the right person isn’t seeing it you’re not going to get the results you’re shooting for. So let’s look at what goes into selecting the appropriate media mix so your great idea can reach its full potential and its intended audience.

Great media planning starts with knowing your audience. Always has.

We’re writing this at a time when folks are realizing that digital advertising is not the be-all, end-all we once thought it was going to be. When digital ads were first introduced in 1994, an ad for AT&T running on HotWired delivered an astonishing 44% click-through rate (CTR). CTR is the percentage of users who click on your ad.

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Now fast forward 26 years. A good CTR today on the Google Display Network is more like 0.35%. Over that time, the novelty of being only one click away from that pair of shoes you were going to buy has worn off. Digital advertising is still the clearest and most trackable path from ad to sale. But the landscape has become overcrowded, causing a lot of consumers to develop banner blindness.

Does this mean online campaigns aren’t worth the money? Not at all. Nearly every campaign should have an online presence, it just means you shouldn’t be putting all your eggs in that basket.

Instead, your media planning partner should help you find the perfect mix. McKim subscribes to research databases that offer an unmatched amount of data on Canadians. We use this research in two ways: audience profiles and media habits. Want to know what shampoo your target audience uses? We can tell you that. Would knowing how many candy bars they ate in the past week be helpful? We’ve got that info, too.

Although Canadians are asked a wide variety of questions when building these databases, their responses don’t come with any context or correlation. The media planner’s job is to interpret, make correlations, and give it substance so we can craft an effective plan.

So, here are five incorrect assumptions we commonly hear when it comes to media planning, and why you need to take a second look:  

Incorrect assumption #1:
Billboards are too broad to reach specific people.

Let’s look at how customer profiling works using another medium that people have misconceptions about – Out of Home (OOH). Let’s look at our home market in Winnipeg. For example, the first query we’ll submit through our database is whether someone has travelled more than 15 km in the past week. In a commuter city like Winnipeg, a significant portion of the population lives in surrounding suburban communities as opposed to the city’s core. And so, the high proportion of people regularly making this commute could make OOH a desirable campaign tactic.

Not surprisingly, OOH delivers high awareness, reach and frequency against most demographics in a commuter city. But depending on your target, there may be a lot of spillover into a more general audience, so looking at specific placements is crucial to delivering a great return on your OOH investment.

“OOH is much more granular than you think: Hello ‘Crosstabulation’”

Our research can help identify specific neighbourhoods that might best reach your audience. The research McKim put into creating a major healthcare campaign revealed a high number of healthcare workers are of Filipino descent. Digging deeper, we determined which neighbourhoods had a higher proportion of Filipino residents and additional focus was placed on those postal code areas.

Crosstabulation of data helps us be even more precise. If the same research had showed that the target audience was also, let’s say, heavy mall shoppers, placements en route to and from shopping malls – or any other related activities your audience frequents – can be doubly effective.

And since we’re musing: let’s say the media research showed your audience does (and will again one day) a lot of business travel to and from Toronto. This could make a case for placing ads at that city’s Billy Bishop airport. Or, maybe you want to reach out-of-town travellers who are likely to visit your province? Our research for the Canada’s Heart… Beats campaign for Travel Manitoba showed that residents of Calgary were more likely than residents of other major Canadian cities to take interest in key tourism attractions in Manitoba. So, during the Calgary Stampede, we used station dominations near busy stampede access points to say howdy and make a huge impact.

Incorrect assumption #2:
Satellite radio killed local radio.

The craze over digital advertising is hardly the first time that a leap forward in technology has led to another media being declared ‘dead’. Nearly 20 years after the launch of satellite radio, local radio has not gone anywhere. In fact, radio reaches 85.1% of Canadians 12+ per week (source: Numeris Fall 2019; Total Canada).

Including radio in a plan can increase its reach by more than 20% when combined with TV. The COVID-19 pandemic has also shown radio to be a trusted source of news and updates, resulting in a 13% increase in tuning for all news formats.

Radio = Recall

Radio advertisements can be targeted to reach specific ages, languages, job industries/occupations – even daily behaviours as specific as whether or not listeners have consumed milk in the past week. In a Radio on the Move Fall 2019 study, 33% of respondents said hearing a radio ad affected a purchase they were about to make, and unaided recall was rate five times greater than brands not advertised on this medium.

And while you may just be thinking of your favourite urban radio station, never discount the value of rural.

Although not rated in Canada, rural stations provide connectivity and information to and about the communities they serve. In rural communities, newsprint has faced big challenges (more on that shortly), and internet connection speeds can be iffy. 60% of adults trust radio to provide up-to-date information and over half trust the information being delivered by their local hosts (Source: C.B.S. March 27, 2020.)

Incorrect assumption #3: Print is dead.

COVID-19 has clearly impacted the time spent with news. A CivicScience study showed that over the past 4 months, adults 18+ have been following the news more frequently than before the crisis. But only 23% are paying for that news, whether it’s accessed in print or online.

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But this doesn’t mean there isn’t a time or place for running ads in the printed paper. According to Vividata Spring 2020 Canada, Baby Boomers are the only generation to over index on reading the printed version of the daily newspaper (index 125 for reading yesterday), community newspapers (119 read in past week), and magazines (130 read yesterday). If you’re looking to reach a 55+ audience, newspapers are still a viable option, especially when you need the space to tell your story.

Where you place is key.

Depending on your message, what section of the paper will also ensure you’re hitting the ideal audience – but consider including both print and digital placements to maximize your reach.

As noted earlier, rural papers have undergone big changes this year. Even though rural Ontario and Manitoba communities suffered a big loss in April when Postmedia announced the closure of 15 weekly papers, thankfully, there still is a healthy selection of rural papers to choose from. Folks in rural communities rely on their community papers, as reliable or high-speed internet can be dicey, especially for farmers. Forty-nine per cent of farms report having either no internet access or are required to use data (source: Totum Research – Dec ‘19/Jan ‘20). These papers may be their only consistent access to exclusive content that has been curated specifically for the communities they serve. They can count on the delivery of these papers every week and they trust the content they’re reading. You can align your brand with that trust.

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Incorrect assumption #4:
No one watches TV (on televisions) anymore.

As discussed, TV has seen big increases since COVID-19 hit. However, things are starting to level off since we emerged from our homes this summer. And television is still one of the best mediums for overall reach. Research demonstrates that 95% of Canadians 18+ watched TV in some form yesterday (source: Vividata Spring 2020).

But how we’re watching is evolving. According to the same research, nearly 65% are still watching live TV, 36% are watching via catch-up or on demand, 52% are watching subscription services such as Crave or Netflix, and 26% watch TV via streaming. Fifty-five per cent of Millennials and 44% of GenX report that streaming has changed the way they watch TV, so it’s not surprising that the younger the demo, the more time spent streaming.

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TV could be the ultimate cross-medium medium.

So is TV worth the investment? Buying time and developing creative can come with a hefty pricetag, but it doesn’t have to.

Video storytelling offers the best medium to evoke emotion. And that sensation is what you’re investing in. While the entire investment isn’t cheap, production has gotten much more affordable – and the distribution of video is much more democratized. You might pay to run your spot during prime time, the evening news, or the big game – but you can also use it for pre-roll video online, or on-screen advertising at airports, on planes, in malls and office buildings, and in movie theatres. And you can blast that same asset across social channels, online and on hosted video content sites.

So how do you know where to spend your TV advertising dollars? High-reach campaigns will have a combination of traditional and online placements to ensure you’re hitting your audience regardless of where they’re watching. Take a planned, multi-faceted approach, and that powerful video spot will get the credit it deserves.

Incorrect assumption #5:
I can shift all of my ad spend online and get better results for less.

The honeymoon might be over, but only because we’ve made it through the first four stages of any relationship, according to Google: attraction, reality, disappointment and stability. Digital’s proven itself to be a great partner, but our relationship is simply at its best when we also see “other.”

Or, if you prefer less of a forced metaphor: integrated media plans rock.

So, yes, there’s been a shift to those who only read the news or watch TV online. Most of us spend a surprising (embarrassing?) amount of time surfing the net or scrolling through endless social media feeds. In fact, 85.66% of Canadians have been online in the past week (Numeris RTS Canada Spring ’20). And our research can tell us where to find them, what types of sites they’ve visited, whether they use online maps to get around, how often are they’re checking social feeds, where they watch videos, what kinds of content they watch most often, and if they shop online or stream music. An all the above.

We can even give you more detailed insights – like whether your target audience banks online, likes to get offers, checks out online ratings and reviews, or participates in online contests. All of this info can point to where you want to be and what might resonate.

Careful consideration not only goes into placement, but creative tactics. If the campaign lends well to video, do you need a 30-second spot? Can you tell your story in 15 seconds? Or would a series of six second ads be more impactful? Some video is non-skippable, but if someone is only watching the first seven seconds, have you been able to tell them what they need to know before their mouse hits the “skip ad” button?

When evaluating social media placements, the context of the platform is also important. Is your campaign news related? Twitter might be where a high portion of budget goes since that’s where folks tend to head for news. Does the campaign have eye-catching imagery? Instagram might be your best bet in that case. Sometimes ads that don’t look like ads can be effective in overcoming that unavoidable banner blindness.

Integrated media planning: the most effective way to reach any audience.

Just like digital media isn’t (and never was!) the be-all, end-all, neither is any single media channel. Conversely, not all plans need to incorporate every media channel to be effective. The best avenue is, and always will be, an integrated, research-based media plan that uses the strengths of each channel to broaden your reach, narrow your precision, reach *exactly* the right people and work within your budget. 

Sound complicated? Not to us. It’s what we’re made for. Give us a call.