Strategic Media Planning: Addressing Misconceptions and Highlighting Best Practices for Successful Engagement in Pharma Marketing

This POV will address common misconceptions in media planning and show how a strategic approach can make media planning one of the most important tools in marketing.

Misconception: the central focus of media planning needs to be the media itself.
It’s not about the media. It’s not even about the message. It’s about the audience. It’s worth repeating: focus on the audience. That new social site or TV show may be the hot new thing, but if your particular audience isn’t into it, you’ve wasted your money. Don’t look to the shiny new thing, look to what your audience actually uses. The importance of what we can learn from audience insights and behaviors impacts how we invest and measure, and that’s what returns real results. We invest heavily in researching our clients’ key audiences so that we know what moves them and we have the data to prove it.

Misconception: the media planning team should be brought in at the end, after ads have been created.
Historically media is an after-thought, and many still approach planning as purely executional. But those who view it this way really miss out on significant benefits that come from including media early. As noted above, strategic media planning has such a strong focus on the audience that the planning team
involvement should begin at the kickoff of the campaign and include a look at audience behaviors, influencing creative messaging from the beginning. We have a client who uses the phrase “Words and Music” to describe how creative and media need to work together to deliver relevant messages in the optimal channel for each customer segment.

Misconception: Print is dead, don’t bother.
Just as dangerous as focusing only on the shiny new thing is ignoring the tried and true. Perhaps you haven’t picked up a newspaper in five years, but that doesn’t mean your key audience feels the same way – they may look forward to their daily paper.

The best and most effective media plans are channel neutral – focusing on the audience and what moves them, no matter how old fashioned. For example, we know from our Media Vitals™ research on prescriber preferences that 70% of physicians read professional print journals daily. If we chose to believe that older mediums aren’t relevant, we’d miss out on a key opportunity. Consider the excellent observation by Clayton Christensen on “milkshake marketing.” Christensen was hired to help a fast food chain sell milkshakes. They noticed that people were buying milkshakes at 8 am – why? It was because they’re filling, easy to buy and portable, which really appealed to commuters. In other words: they did the job. This correlates to media in that you have to find the right medium for the job you have – hire mobile for some jobs, direct mail for others, journals for others – but like a milkshake, you need to mix it up with omnichannel planning. No one channel lives in isolation, they are all interconnected.

Misconception: always aim for the least-expensive CPM.
Cost does not directly equate to quality. Sometimes a less-costly broad reach campaign is the best option. However, particularly today where hyper-targeting is possible, it is absolutely worth it to spend more for the eyeballs that you want than less for those you may not. It’s about quality and not volume. Be willing to pay more for verified, qualified ways to reach your audience.

Misconception: there’s no way to measure every aspect of a campaign. So just set it up and check in once the campaign is done.
Not only is this simply untrue, as current technology allows us to measure everything – even print –there’s a huge benefit to continual measurement. Never “set it and forget it.” Start measurement in the beginning of the campaign and measure as often as possible in order to ensure the plan is working, and to give you
the opportunity to pivot when needed. Measurement helps you ensure that every dollar is accountable. In fact, it is because of the power of measurement today that we are able to incorporate machine learning and real-time optimization into our media plans. It’s like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” story – when the audience is moved by one tactic versus another we’re able to guide them down a media path driven by their preferences and actions that leads them to our clients’ brands.

Misconception: publishers can dictate which data they choose to share with advertisers.
Transparency and viewability are two words you’ll hear often in the halls here because our standards have been longstanding and higher than industry requirements. This is largely because of the sensitivity that comes with working in pharma, but it’s also because we are dedicated to providing a better experience for our clients, which we’re able to achieve via our relationships with our suppliers. Our business is built on relationships. Our partnerships with leading suppliers in our space allow us to better share data with those suppliers, which means we have a direct window into where our clients’ ads are running, who is seeing them and whether they’re engaging. That equals brand safety and better results. When our publishers share the data that we need, we all benefit.

Misconception: Media planning is mostly executional. Changes in technology don’t affect it much.
Our proprietary technology has helped us to move the needle for the nation’s game changers in pharma:

For more information, please contact your CMI/Compas lead.