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Using Ethnography for Effective Media Planning

Smart media planning takes a few extra steps that can mean the difference between "effective" and "we&squot;re never doing that again!"

Using Ethnography for Effective Media Planning

Posted Wednesday January 07th, 2015 in Analysis + Strategy.

Media planning is becoming a significant stripe of our agency in 2015. We are generally appalled at the waste and destruction left behind by other media agencies when we first come upon a new client’s old media plans.

The few companies that have even received invoices haven’t read them; of those, most haven’t received make-goods. What’s worse, The vast majority hasn’t negotiated rates or contracts in months or even years.

Media planning itself is not difficult: check the rates and ratings, negotiate, monitor the invoice, negotiate the make-goods, and analyze the results with intelligent tracking mechanisms. But smart media planning takes a few extra steps that can mean the difference between “effective” and “we’re never doing that again!”

When we buy media, we focus a bit on demographics and then a lot on ethnographics. Ethnography is the study of social culture – of how we behave, and why. No, this post isn’t the first step towards your M.S. in Psychology. Yes, it is an insight into how smart media planners dovetail their efforts with the creative team’s strategy.

Remarkable creative comes from a place of human understanding. We’ve talked about emotional bonding before, which is supremely important to a brand’s ability to overcome noise and connect with an audience. What few realize is that those same principles of ethnography that lead to great creative are just as valid when it come to media planning. Discovering the buyer persona and analyzing the habits of the target customer will tell you exactly where the paid and earned media opportunities are, and then some.

It’s not an easy exercise to do, but it’s absolutely vital to complete the circle on a strategic campaign.

What’s your buyer persona? What are your target customer’s habits? What does that mean for their media consumption? Those are the questions I’ll leave you with today, along with a simple suggestion for your bottom-line: be sure to read your invoices.


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