How To Produce A Great Media Plan (Part 2)

Updated: Dec 9, 2020

In Part 1 we explored the inputs and knowledge required by a planner or marketer to build a great media plan. We focussed on the need to explore and understand the market, brand, and consumer in depth.

In this part of Key Steps to Great Media Planning we bring together the knowledge you've gained to create strategic insight, strategy and an implementation media plan guaranteed to help you punch above your weight.

The Method

The discipline of comms planning. Insights, deductions, source of growth, and a cutting strategy to gain advantage. Think Sharp, Ritson, Binet & Field et al.

- Stimulus & Analysis - Until this point the focus of a planner has been on understanding as much as possible about the market, consumer, and brand – now the art of planning comes to the fore. Less is more. Focus and insight is required to pick out those facts that can be of most benefit to your campaign.

- Source of growth – make an assessment and decision on where your source of growth is going to come from. Stealing competitors share? Cross-selling? New products? New markets?

- Deductions – what does it all mean, and what are you going to do about it! There is often a temptation to jump straight to what it means e.g. strategy or platform, but if you haven’t done the ground work the deduction won’t have a firm foundation. On that note, be wary of clichés: yes they are true (that’s why it’s a cliché) but they lack insight and won’t deliver cut-through.

- Share of Voice/Share of Market. Now Share of Search – predictors of business returns from media spend and advertising effectiveness. The key is to understand what they mean for your business, and how media strategy and media tactics can be used to overcome budgetary limitations.

A good strategist is worth their weight in this stage, but remember business outcomes are what matters most.


This is often the part of the media planning process that gets the most attention and focus, as it’s the point at which the media plan starts to take a more tangible form. Scheduling is much more than just putting crosses in boxes as we look at the implementational and executional aspects of media planning.

  • Strategy utilisation – by this point the planner and the marketing team will have put a huge effort in to creating the right media strategy to connect consumers to your brand. How you execute against the strategy is key: the strategy should come shining through and live and breath in implementation detail. The strength of this connection will go a long way to dictating campaign performance.

  • Media implementation – what channels have you chosen and why? Within each channel which media outlets have you chosen and why. Tactics, choices, media firsts and innovation. All should connect to the strategy, all should deliver strong numbers.

  • The plan - this is the heavy lifting of implementational media planning. Think coverage and frequency, cover-runs and builds, dayparts, sizes, formats, positions, editorial environments, weights, flighting, and much more.

The key is to bring your media strategy to life with a smoking-hot implementational plan. Focus on the numbers and know when (and when not) to utilise innovative and creative media ideas (TikTok isn’t right for every brand).

Outputs & Outcomes

We're now at the sharp end of Key Steps to Great Media Planning. This section looks at the outputs (media numbers) and the outcomes (business results).

Binet & Field proved there is direct correlation between the volume of soft KPI’s improved by a campaign and the hard numbers that are likely to result.

In other words, the more the media and brand metrics are going up the more likely positive business outcomes will follow.

  • Outputs: media delivery as measured by media outputs e.g. cover and frequency, buying audiences, impressions, clicks, likes, etc. All maximised and focussed on the campaign tasks and objectives.

  • Outcomes – your media investment exists for only one reason – to grow your business. How well focussed and aligned is the media plan to your business objectives?

  • Be wary not to over-focus on soft metrics as that will inevitably lead to optimising to a sub-optimal point.

  • Accurate measurement is critical and should be regarded as an investment.

In closing, we were asked what are the key steps to creating a great media plan? The answer is surprisingly simple but it takes time and effort to learn, understand and implement.

As an industry (media) we are often guilty of short-termism: need for instant results, high staff turnover, over-focus on short-term KPI’s. But the steps we’ve summarised in this article are open to all planners on all brands, and the science that sits behind many of these steps is also available to all.

We hope you’ve found it useful, for more tips and advice on media planning sign up for our newsletter or follow us on your preferred social channel.

Missed Part 1 of How to Produce a Great Media Plan? You can find it here.