Every movement begins with a moment.
When I happily landed the role of Media Planning Intern at Moxie, I pictured developing social media calendars, creating social content and staying far away from math. Then came the wake-up call: media planning is an extremely quantitative field.
Words and phrases like “data,” “analytics” and “row 17,276 on sheet 15 of the Excel doc,” are thrown around constantly in this department. For someone who prefers words and big ideas to numbers and hard data, working alongside the Moxie media planning team has been an adjustment. During my first few days, my eyes glazed over in meetings as media planners enthusiastically spoke in code. I spent a solid amount of time looking up acronyms like CPA, CR, ESV, CPC, CTR, UX, UI, API and more… So many more.
Needless to say, I was a little (okay, very) uninformed when it came to understanding what exactly the team does and how the work benefits clients — and in my defense, it seems as though other folks in the ad industry are in the dark as well. After drinking the media planning Kool-Aid, I’m vowing to spread the word about what we really do to anyone who will listen (or read).
First, let’s meet Sally and Tim.
Sally is in her mid-fifties. She is a financially stable empty nester who owns a home, banks online and loves to travel and learn about other places. Sally also stays active, enjoys spending time outdoors and seeing movies, prefers organic food and needs to feel valued.
Tim is in his late twenties, has no kids, lives a budget-conscious life and keeps up with popular trends. Tim also likes to be the first to try new things, has higher than average mobile use, enjoys spending time with friends and values a low price when purchasing anything.
What do these two have in common?
For starters, they’re just personas. If you were able to meet them, the introduction would be face-to-screen — a glorious screen of data consisting of numbers and evidence to justify reaching the audiences we know as “Sally” and “Tim” in a specific way. Knowing who they are is key for the success of a campaign, and extensive analysis allows for that.
When I heard the word “analytics” on my first day here, I’m pretty sure I started sweating and imagining death by data. I was told upfront that the amount of data we have access to can get “real creepy, real fast,” and I smiled through an intro-to-analytics meeting with only a few moments of fear. Once we have data from various consumer databases, we throw it into Excel, create numerous pivot tables and then treasure said data like the holy grail of information it is. After researching our target consumers (say, Sally and Tim), we then begin to analyze previous campaigns, current trends, the latest data and potential outcomes to start forming a plan for communication.
Our communication task is to determine what message through what medium will resonate enough to gain loyalty to the brand. Everything we propose must fall in line with the brand’s personality, mission, values, goals and objectives while also aligning with the campaign’s budget, resources and timeline.
Our goal is to craft successful, on-or-under-budget campaigns that draw our audience(s) in for a call to action or an overall awareness through the optimal ad outlets. We are in direct contact with partners and clients to recommend exactly what we feel is best for all parties involved, and we’ll probably do so over a casual lunch or drinks.
We can then put our plan into action to effectively reach a specific population we understand on a deep, data level. So we secure billboards on the different routes that Sally and Tim frequent. We purchase spots on the music-streaming apps that Sally engages with. We optimize mobile for Tim’s preferred method of web browsing. Knowing our client’s target audiences and how they live day-to-day allows us to employ unique media strategies to lead those audiences straight to the brand.
Then comes evaluation. Pivot tables, Excel sheets, organized charts and graphs are crafted and CPAs, CPCs, CTRs, CRs and other various units of measurement are calculated. We become the mediators (see what I did there?) between the insane amounts of hard data we possess and the people trying to understand it. Because not everyone can look at a 24-sheet Excel doc and interpret just how significant row 7,384 is for a media buy, it’s our job to make the results digestible. And once we feel as though our job (at the moment) is done, we wrap up our findings with a pretty little bow and present them to the client with hopes of acceptance and praise.
That’s it. That’s media planning: fully understanding everything about analytics, brands, consumers, clients, data, strategic planning, media trends, potential outcomes and the past/ present/ future to benefit clients, consumers, the agency and (admittedly) ourselves through a process that takes a reasonable amount of time and meets all requirements, expectations and standards.
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