Worth a Read: Anatomy of a Good Online Media Plan

I found this post trolling through some del.icio.us links, but Clickz’s Harry Gold has put together some really solid thinking on how to strategize and execute a good online media plan.  I spent enough years on the agency side to know that the process is fraught with peril.

On one side, unless you are very lucky, you will have a client who is pretty clueless about online media buying.  On the other side, you have salespeople who know that they have about a ten percent shot of getting your business, but still need to go through the motions of developing a media plan for their property — and convincing you that THEIRS is the ONLY site/network that could possibly deliver you and your client the ROI you are looking for (when quite often the “return” part of “return on investment” is not well understood by anyone in the process).  And then there are the endless return “check in” phone calls from the poor schlubs at the media properties that you know your client won’t buy.

I hated doing this, but Harry seems passionate about the planning process, which will lead to a better outcome:

Many times I see agencies large and small presenting the days, and even weeks, of planning and negotiating that went into creating a plan as a simple table of site names, impression levels, flight dates, high-level placement details, and creative specs and costs. The problem with this way of presenting a plan: it minimizes the effort that goes into producing an online plan (which is always underappreciated) and cheapens a process that I hold sacred.

Please read his post for the Full Monty, but here are some of the ideas that I like best:

  • Strategy and tactics. Remind your client of your agreed approach to the planning process. It’s funny how often both agency- and client-side people lose sight of this.
  • Target audience. Same deal as above — set the stage by reminding all the players who you’re going after in the plan.
  • Audience research. Talk about all the research you did on your target audience’s online and offline behavior — anything that will impact your media planning process and choices.
  • Metrics for success. This is the biggest item that’s rarely published in a media plan. It’s like the metrics and definition of success are an afterthought. A good interactive marketer embraces metrics by showing a sample report and agreeing on optimization and success factors. Of course, you can establish metric-based goals here as well.
  • Possible performance and branding split. Some of your placements and campaign may be more for branding. Establish the branding metrics for those, and establish that some placements (that you’ll call out in the plan) can’t be viewed through the same lenses applied to the campaign’s performance portion (lead gen, sales, etc.).
  • Integration. Show any linkages you created with the offline portions of integrated buys you did with the offline planning teams.
  • Hero slide. This is where you show the client why they hired you. Did you get 40 percent of rate card on a site? Get $25,000 worth of value-added placements? Knock a competitor out of a prime slot? Bought something new and cool? This is where you call it out!
  • Plan details. This is often in the addendum as it can be a lot of information. However, when you get questions on a particular placement or site, and you will, this is where you turn. I like to have my team show screen captures of the sections and positions we bought and sample ad units. We also include the site’s description and the justifications as to why we selected the site.

There is some really good thinking in this post.  Worth a read.



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