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Advertising Research and Media Planning

From the creation of advertisements we now move to another increasingly vital and creative area of the advertising profession. All your creativity would be useless, unless what you produce is seen or heard and acted upon. This can be guaranteed only by the most effective exposure in the media. Even creativity and planning and advertising campaigns can be determined to a considerable extent by the media used. There is today greater integration of the creative function with media planning. One might say that this relationship between the media and the creative function is inherent in advertising or marketing communication. This is essentially because a creating advertisement is determined by market requirements and hence is result oriented. It is business related. The common objective of the business concerned and advertising is winning consumer confidence, and support. Media make this possible by relating the advertisement to the consumer. For a very long time this vital function had been the neglected child of advertising and marketing. This had been despite the fact that the cost of planning an advertising campaign had been minuscule compared to the money spent on the media. At one stage the ratio was 10 per cent to 90 per cent. Today the creation of an advertising campaign costs any amount between Rs 10 lakh and Rs. 20 lakh, while the expenditure on the media would vary from Rs 2 crore to Rs 10 crore. The change in the ratio would seem to have gone more towards media costs than creative costs. Today, the integral link between advertising research, creating advertising and media planning has become vital today because of the proliferation of the media, particularly the plethora of TV channels, and inter- and intra-media competition as also fierce competition between brands trying to capture a fast expanding market. These developments are making media planning a complex and difficult task, calling for a great deal of ingenuity, inventiveness, continuous monitoring of changes in consumer reactions to different media, analysis of utility of certain media and combining imagination with available data to ensure the most effective use of media in combination. Let us start with trying to understand what the media is expected to do. What is the media objective in general? It is to ensure the widest and the most effective exposure of the advertising message in such a way as to help influence purchase and reduce wastage, thereby getting the best value for every rupee spent. The aim is to select the most effective media to reach the core target. The options are many, of course, related to the product or service and the target audience. Should you use a single medium to saturation level? Should you combine different media or opt for a media-mix? If so, what would be the distribution of the different media? Then you would come to each medium-print, TV, radio, video, outdoor, direct mail, point of purchase material, shop window display and so on. Starting with the print medium, you have to decide whether you would confine yourself only to daily newspapers or use magazines as well. Then more questions arise: Which newspapers? The general daily or the financial dailies and which of those? Similar questions would have to be answered with regard to magazines. Then you would have to decide how much space to use and how frequently the position of the advertisement on the page of the

daily, even the particular page on which the advertisement would appear. These questions are no longer simple. The number of newspapers seems to be increasing every day. Then there are multiple issues of the same daily newspaper. There are special regular weekly features or supplements. You have to choose between English and other Indian language dailies, both nationally and regionally. With so many readership options and newspapers and magazines catering to so many different tastes and requirements, there is a tremendous fragmentation or segmentation of readership. General magazines, as distinct from those aimed at specific readership., contain a variety of articles. In positioning an advertisement one has to make a decision depending on the product or service and its core audience and the sections of the magazine that are likely to appeal to such an audience. It is a formidable task. Certainly with regard to the space to be used and even with frequency at times there has to be integration between the creative team and the media planner. How serious this problem of media selection and planning is, becomes evident' when we discuss the proliferation of TV channels. The number of households owning television sets or TV households has gone up from 28 million in 1990 to 42 million in 1993. Out of the total TV households about 14 million own color television sets or are CTV households and three million have the facility of remote control or are remote control households. Both these segments of TV households are increasing. These different types of TV households have different viewing patterns. The remote control households, for instance, can very easily switch programmes and channels, at the slightest provocation. We are already beginning to see advertisements persuading people to buy a second TV set. This itself is evidence of increasing fragmentation or segmentation of TV viewers. With different programmes appealing to different members of the family there is segmentation within the household itself. The way channels are proliferating; there will soon be 35 different channels. The mid-sixties had witnessed the beginning of increasing segmentation of readership with the increasing 9iversification of magazines, accentuated by the emergency of economic and financial dailies followed by similar journals. This process had been triggered by the sudden invasion of consumer goods competition in this limited area leading to an orientation towards marketing and research. Liberalization has created a similar environment but on a much larger and wider scale and this is having its impact primarily on TV and also to some extent on magazines. Available research data reveal some interesting developments. Between 1990 and 1993, proliferation of channels has increased hours of viewing by 60 per cent from an average of 8.2 hours per week to 13.2 hours among men in the monthly income group of Rs. 4,000 and over. In 1990 the entire viewing had been confined to Doordarshan. While total viewing hours have increased considerably, these have been distributed among seven channels, excluding local cable or video viewing, to about five hours a week on average (Lyn de-Souza, Media Director, Trikaya-Grey Advertising, Bombay, The Economic Times, 'Brand Equity', 5 January, 1994). Further, most households with access to multi-channel TV or multi-channel households are in the cities. The popularity of the different channels now available differ from region to region. Even within these differences viewing options vary. Thanks to multi-channel facilities the viewers are able to choose the programmes they want to see from among the many available at the same time. Hence, the selection of TV time has to take into consideration this complexity of audience exposure. It is no longer enough to consider the total viewer ship of TV. One has to identify the particular channel, the particular programme and time of viewing by the target audience. This

problem will be aggravated as the number of channels increase. The total viewing hours per week will increase, but the share of each channel will vary according to its ability to offer fare that will be popular. Thus inter-channel competition will increase. This competition will possibly find the audience shifting loyalties from one channel to another at very frequent intervals. How does one keep track with this fluctuating audience when trying to reach them with an advertising message? The press is feeling the impact of TV. A study in Bombay reveals that between 1990 and 1993, while the total number of women readers in the Rs. 4,000 and above income-homes has gone up by 45,000, the number of regular readers has increased by only 15,000. The satellite TV has captured the rest. In the environment of increasing competition the combination of different media has assumed greater importance than ever before. Direct mail, such as. Catalogues, leaflets, even audiotapes and videotapes, computer diskettes and telephone calls are becoming quite common. Even for consumer goods and consumer personal selling is backing durables multimedia advertising. Direct mail, which uses TV quiz or feedback postcards, not only communicates effectively with the target audience but also builds up a profile of potential consumers, people who have bothered to respond. This can be the beginning of a direct mail database, which has to be kept constantly updated. Outdoor advertising is also increasing in importance. Today one comes across even financial advertisements on hoardings. These conventional media advertisers have been using a whole range of non-conventional media, including cinema and video vans, cycles with audio-systems advertising a product. Elephants have been used to carry draping with messages about family planning. In a small town, a couple of kilometers off the main road, during the pujas, I have seen young men dressed as circus clowns, sitting on the bonnet of a car, advertising the virtues of a particular brand of bindis with the help of a hand-held loud-speaker, backed by raucous film music on gramophone records from inside the car. This was before the days of the audiotape recorder and player. It is obvious that with the growth of literacy and the increasing affluence of a section of the peasantry, benefiting from the impending changes in cropping patterns and greater commercialization of agriculture and export orientation, the media, both print and electronic, would expand in the rural areas in the not too distant future. The consumers would have wider media options and the media planner would have more problems. This is particularly so because of the varying structural patterns of the emerging rural and urban markets. According to some estimates 80 per cent of the urban population are in the middle and upper income groups. This accounts for a population of 96 million. In the rural areas 62 per cent or 217 million are in the lower income group or at the subsistence level. About 135 million are in the middle and upper income groups. 'The value systems in the urban and rural areas are in a state of flux. Furthermore, one has taken into account the diversity of this vast land, with its different languages, cultures, habits and customs and even purchasing behavior patterns. The media have to be market to these diverse and fast changing market segments. Then there is the question of rising costs. TV is the fastest growing and the most expensive medium. Sponsoring a Hindi feature film with a ten-second message can cost anything between Rs. 1,60,000 and Rs. 2,50,000, according to the popularity of the film. Advertising costs in the press and other media are also increasing. What is more, advertising on TV is increasing, causing a clutter of advertisements of different brands of the same product. How does one rise above the

clutter? In this competition for attention on TV, the situation that has emerged is one of increasing expenditure and decreasing impact of advertisements and the media planners. The use of the media has become very complex. In general what combination of media or mediamix do you go in for and in what proportion? In TV what is the combination of channels and mix of programmes? How to select a combination that gives the best value for money in reaching the target? In TV it is the question of a target specific programme with a highly fragmented and shifting viewer ship. How does one focus on markets of importance? The task is precise, and involves the adoption of a more strict but flexible media strategy. The problems faced can be identified as follows: managing the media explosion; matching media to consumer segments with increasing audience fragmentation and declining media loyalties; increasing competition among brands; cost inflation; inter-media competition; cost-effect media use avoiding wastage; focusing on core consumers and standing out in the clutter; increased audience; monitoring changes in readership and viewer ship patterns of the potential consumers; and managing both information and lack of it.

Advertising Research and Media Planning

Obviously research has an important bearing on media planning and implementation. The media scenario has become so complex that the information for media selection and planning is specific to the target, for a sophisticated segmentation of the media in relation to a segmented target, a specific combination, distribution and spacing of advertisements in the media. There is always a spillover of a message in every medium reaching beyond the target. This is wastage. The wider the media options and audience options the larger the wastage. In such a situation, the task is maximization of reach, the opportunity to see for a well defined target with the minimum expenditure. It is in this context that advertising research takes on a new dimension. By itself it covers a wide field: consumer motivation, pre-testing and post-testing the copy and the advertisement not merely for the credibility and persuasiveness of the message but also compatibility with the medium to reach the specific target audience. It also includes research about the different media categories, competitive advertising both in terms of the advertisements and the media used. There is also the research that follows the release of the advertising campaign: recall of the advertisements, comprehension, impact and so on. These are related to the media used to check their effectiveness, apart from media research to locate target groups in relation to particular media, categories, and balance the reach in relation to the costs involved. Media research permits not only monitor of competitive spending and media strategy, but also monthly variations in brand awareness and brand preferences of consumers in relation to the particular media used. It also helps decide media strategy and tactics of concentrating regionally or nationally, using a single medium or a media mix, how and in what frequency and combination the media-mix is to be operated-concentrated short bursts of advertising with long gaps or a regular release and so on. Today a certain amount of media information is readily available. Certain publications provide 'reading and noting' studies to identify positions, which attract greater attention. The National

Readership Survey is a mine of information. Doordarshan and other channels also provide information regarding the popularity of certain programmes to help identify time slots with the widest reach. In TV, digital service has already come to India. It has begun to provide interactive programme choices to its subscribers. Once this information is availed of on a wider scale, more information would follow about the subscribers. This would help more specific targeting of consumers for advertising purposes. Many studies are undertaken from time to time by advertising agencies themselves, the financial dailies and professional journals. Then, the Indian Market Research Bureau provides information on television viewer ship or television rating points (TRP) for three out of five major cities. Doordarshan too has started its own rating system-DART. All this information is still very inadequate and varies widely in estimates. There are no rules to go by. The only way out is to combine the different estimates available and come to some sort of estimation, which is a little better than guesstimate. Thus the demand is for creativity in media planning. Hard judgment based on available data and business sense. From all the data available, the media planner would have to work out a consumer profile, not merely in demographic terms, but also as to the identification of the decision-maker, purchase rhythm or frequency of purchase, quantity bought at a time, external influence on purchase decisions; the source of purchase-facilities available, such as credit and exclusive brand 'franchise or rights to sell a particular brand; user recommendation; media habits of decisionmakers; advertisement recall as compared with other brands and may be, even other consumer products of different brands and even the media which noticed. The totality of such recall of advertisements, seen or heard, of all the products concerned and their respective brands in relation to media, would provide some idea of the contribution of each medium. Then would be available some understanding of the importance of different media in reaching a target audience. This would also provide guidance to positions in the newspapers and magazines and in relation to particular TV channels and particular programmes in the channels. Then would emerge the relative advantage of each medium and position and thus would the media planner be able to work out a media-mix; work out different possible combinations giving different weights to different media and even positions in the media, taking into consideration reach, opportunity to see and costs. Through such as exercise would it be possible to decide on the most viable mediamix for the marketing communication or advertising task in hand within strict budget limitationsthe best use of every advertising rupee. On the basis of the marketing communication objectives and the analysis of the research data regarding the consumer profile and the related media-mix, the media planner would have to decide on what are called the primary and the secondary media. The primary medium would be selected on the consideration of securing the most powerful impact on the target audience, of the most important source of information for the target audience about the product or service to be purchased and of the most decisive influence on, the decision to purchase. Further more, it must be seen and advertisements in it recalled by the majority of the target audience. And the wastage should be minimum. In the case of satellite TV channels one must also take into consideration a spillover into the neighboring countries, especially in the context of the increasing orientation on exports these days. There are more than one billion Hindi speaking people in our neighborhood. Further, there are more than 1.5 billion Indians and. people of South Asian origin, who speak English and speak or understand Hindi. There are programmes on these channels beamed specifically at them.

The media planner would give the greatest weight to the primary medium and use other media to provide back up, help further persuade the consumer to act on the motivation already triggered by the primary medium. Such media would be considered as secondary media. Obviously the primary medium and the secondary medium would vary from product groups to product groups. In general one might say that consumer goods would possibly require an even spread over the entire media spectrum. Depending on the product and its intimacy one would select TV or a magazine as a primary medium. Shop-windows, point of sale material, hoardings would obviously be secondary media. For industrial products, one might even consider direct mail including leaflets and catalogues as the primary medium backed by the press, particularly the financial press. TV would be a secondary medium. Exhibitions and trade fairs would also constitute secondary, but very important, media. Financial advertising has gathered tremendous momentum in recent years. Both in the case of industrial advertising and financial advertising, TV cannot possibly be the primary medium because in the time available all the necessary information cannot be provided. Moreover, purchase decisions in such cases call for careful consideration and hence the print medium-the newspaper or magazine or direct mail literature-provides an opportunity for the potential buyer to study carefully the information provided before making a purchase decision. In such cases the print media triumph over TV. In a highly competitive situation and media proliferation, it would be necessary to monitor constantly the changes taking place in consumer behavior patterns in relation to the impact of the different media on purchase decisions of particular target audiences. This is especially true of TV, which does not have homogeneity of viewer ship. Changes in viewer ship among different channels would have to be considered. Even if TV remains the primary medium, the channel originally selected as the primary channel might have to be changed. 'One could even conceive of a situation in which it might cease to be effective as the primary medium. Thus there is need for a great deal of innovative and imaginative flexibility, fitting in modifications within a framework of a long-term plan, even on a monthly basis. This would depend on the changing pattern of competitive advertising or changing popularity of different channels or programmes. As TV penetrates small towns and villages, media planning would become very difficult, particularly in a vast country with a huge population such as ours, caught in the grip of rapid transition from a slow to a much faster pace of growth, creating a race in time between the availability of information and the expansion of the market and proliferation of brand rivalry. Computers have already become a useful instrument of media research and planning. The technology and the accompanying information explosion have to be tuned to the rapidly growing needs of marketing communication. Specialized institutions and trained personnel to man such institutions are needed. Specialization has to be directed and related to a wide variety of needs. Those of you who take up media planning as the area of your career in advertising would thus be virtually pioneering in a field, which is fast opening up and achieving more and more recognition. The existing institutional arrangements are unable to cope with the demands made on media planning and buying. The attention to the media is not left totally to the advertising agency. Even the advertisers are entrusting the responsibility of media co-ordination to their product or brand managers. The total demands of media space or time and the media combinations are sometimes

pooled together for the most effective utilization of the money spent by a marketing organization with multiple brands. Today there is direct interaction between the media executives of the advertising agencies and the clients. Because of the increasing competition, media rates have become open to bargaining. Marketing organizations with multiple brands are even approached by the different media with special effects bypassing the agencies. This has made media buying itself a specialized job, as distinct from planning. Thus, new administrative and even institutional arrangements are emerging. The usual organization is of a media director with a media planner and a number of assistants involved both in planning and its operation in terms of scheduling the advertisements in different media, booking time or space, ensuring dispatch of material and checking the fulfillment of the contracts entered into by the media owners with the agency and finally, billing clients. The size of the department depends on the size of the operations. There are agencies today, which have media departments with strength of 40 people. In this set-up the media buyer today has a special role. He has to make a quick analysis of the options available working closely with the media planner. Media buyers have to be familiar with media planning, selection and evaluation techniques. Media buying is becoming a major input to media planning because of multi-channel TV and market fragmentation at the media level. Thus the media department's task has become quite complex and diverse. It involves media research, planning, buying, finance and accounts and even maintaining close relationship with the advertisement departments of the media. The media planner has to be able to make intricate calculations with the help of the computer, beginning with the feeding of data to the computer: TV rating points for the four metro and five cities separately, for cable TV and satellite households of Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad; audit on all brands of advertising on TV; buying options on radio, especially now with the opening up of the PM channel to private sponsors; radio reach and coverage studies; the data on the press provided by the Audit Bureau of Circulation regarding circulation of publications broken up state-wise, district-wise; the demographic data in relation to the media and their cumulative reach, inter-media duplication and so on. Computers are used to work out mathematical models for the most cost-effective combination in relation to media mix, frequency and reach or penetration. With large volume of media buying even agencies are beginning to club all media requirements of particular groups of clients to secure the best possible price and positions. The financial gains benefit ultimately the client as the media 'buyer only gets the 15 per cent agency commission. The role of the media planner in this environment has become highly specialized and has begun to receive much recognition today. Media buying too is becoming highly specialized. A media buyer has to be a good negotiator in order to reach the target most economically, secure discount on the volume of advertising placed with a particular medium, ensuring effective exposure through securing proper placing to be able to be seen or heard above the clutter. Media planning and buying are thus emerging as separate services both to advertising agencies and clients. The potential has developed for the emergence of independent media buying agencies as in the advanced market economies. This is seen as a threat to the advertising agencies. Hence, those who have a large business are setting up subsidiary media-buying agencies. Hindustan Lever, for instance, is the single largest buyer of time on TV today. With more than 80 brands if spends more than Rs 145 crore. Bulk advance buying of time on TV for such a large amount of money is

profitable in more ways than one. Medium-sized advertising agencies are coming together to form media buying clubs. The market is operating ruthlessly in the area of space and time in the major media. There are, as should be evident by now, a number of different types of jobs open in the media department of an advertising agency. In the present environment media planning, buying and related activities have tremendous potential for an analytical mind with the ability to use the results of the analysis in a creative fashion, in 'an imaginative and innovative manner within the strict discipline of the marketing communication task and the media budget. The media planner is in a position today to provide even qualitative inputs into the creation of advertisements and identifying advertising opportunities. It has become an important management job in an advertising agency. Obviously there is need for training and experience. This is difficult. The classroom can provide only the basic groundwork and a certain amount of less complicated laboratory exercise. From my experience I have found that even this limited exposure has generated interest among students to opt for media planning. One of my students of the first batch of trainees in the postgraduate diploma course in advertising at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication in Delhi has reached the top of the profession in media planning. Today someone fresh from the IIMC can expect to start as a trainee in the media department at a salary of Rs. 3,000 a month. For a person with at least two years experience, the starting salary could be at least Rs. 4,000. After that the sky is the limit. It is what you make of it. Jobs of senior media planners are going for a minimum of Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 a month. If you have the qualifications that go into the making of a good media planner or buyer-a combination of business acumen, analytical mind and imagination and creativity-you would be entering the profession when new possibilities are opening up. The fast developing media with their increasingly varied appeals and widening reach would call for many innovative solutions to the challenges and opportunities that would come your way. You would have to learn to find the most effective synthesis between local Indian conditions and the experiences coming from abroad. This itself demands a great deal of understanding of the fast changing, expanding and maturing consumer and his or her relation to the media and the socio-cultural, economic and political environment in which this transition and change is taking place. This in itself is a challenge and opportunity for the right type of person for an interesting and profitable career in a particular area of advertising.