Implementing an advertising campaign on international media requires a thorough understanding of both the campaign objectives and the target audience. Research input into the planning and buying process allows clients, to identify the best platforms and channels to reach their intended audience and what kinds of campaign will be most effective.
Introduction: The Media Brief
A media brief is a document which summarises a client’s communications strategy and/or campaign objectives and requests solutions to meet its objectives. It may be circulated by the client or its media agency to media owners, who respond with proposals outlining how they intend to achieve the clients’ objectives. Depending on the circumstances, a proposal may include a combination of advertising formats and platforms.
A media brief can be straightforward and precise, with a firm idea of which media are to be used and stating a specific budget or optional levels of spend. Alternatively the brief might have fewer constraints, seeking innovative approaches from media owners to fulfil its marketing objectives.
- Audience researchers like as much information to work with as possible when answering a brief. Here is a quick guide to all the elements that will help clients receive the best response:
Background: What is being advertised, and who is the client? Does the client have any existing competition and who are they? How is the product / service currently positioned in the market? What is the advertiser’s unique selling point? How does the advertiser measure the success of a campaign? What is the advertising history so far? Have there been any recent campaigns and what were the outcomes? What challenges does the client currently face or expect to face in the near future? Why is this campaign being considered? Target audience: As much detail as possible on the demographic profile of the target audience or consumer of the product or service being advertised Business & Marketing Objective: What business or marketing need is this campaign hoping to deliver on? Who is the campaign trying to reach and what messages is the campaign intended to deliver? For example:
- To increase brand awareness among European air travellers
- To increase ticket sales for the airline
- To improve perception of the airline in the areas of customer service and quality”
Geography: What are the priority countries or regions? Preferred Platforms: If any media platforms, e.g. TV, online, mobile, events, etc. are currently being considered or disregarded for this campaign, please list them Creative / content requirements: Is there any existing advertising content or is a creative solution required? Are there any format or ad size / duration considerations? Timing: Start date and intended duration of the campaign Are there any events scheduled or product launch dates to bear in mind? Key Performance Indicators (KPI): What metrics are currently being measured? What would the result of a successful campaign look like? Is there a separate budget set aside for independent post-campaign measurement and is this the responsibility of the media owner(s)?
Case Study: An Expanding Airline
No two media campaigns will ever be booked in quite the same way. So much depends on the client, their needs and internal decision-making processes, as well as the media used, the target audience they wish to reach and the message they want to convey.
But typically there are stages which we can describe in the process. We will use a newcomer to the market, a hypothetical airline looking to expand in Europe, as a case in point.
For the example below, a ‘client’ can be defined as an advertiser or the media agency they may choose to work with.
An international airline, Dream Air, has set itself the commercial objective to quadruple its ticket sales by 2020. This would place it in the top 5 airlines in Europe. This business objective will define the company’s long-term communications strategy and the steps it plans to take each year.
In the first year, Dream Air is looking to expand its route network to a number of new destinations across Europe. The company has allocated a budget of €5.5 million to promote its expansion to consumers and emphasise the quality of its in-flight service.
The company has hired a media agency to develop a marketing message that will appeal to its target audience and ensure that the ad campaign appears on the right platform at the right time.
In this case the target audience is identified by the agency through consumer research. Variables that are taken into account include:
- Geography: The markets (countries of residence) of the target audience
- Demographics: e.g. age, disposable income
- Behaviours: e.g. propensity to travel internationally
- Attitudes: e.g. curious about other countries, value exploration and discovery, do not mind paying extra for quality
This research has established a target audience: affluent Europeans who are curious about other countries and have travelled internationally at least 3 times in the past year.
The target audience in this case is divided into two tiers, or subsets of consumers it wishes to target. The first tier is the highest priority and includes members of the target audience in key countries covered by the new routes – the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. The second tier consists of members of the target audience in the rest of Europe.
A campaign strategy is devised. The strategy is based on available market research and takes into account criteria such as the penetration of different media within individual countries and the structure and size of the target audience. The creative elements of the campaign will begin to be formed at this time, such as the advertising message, genre and distribution format.
The agency now needs to decide where to invest the airline’s media budget. The first step is to define the client’s brand positioning and competitive environment.
Media planners at the agency are heavily involved in this process. Their role is to define the most relevant media for the strategy. They use consumer research along with information provided by the client to identify the airline’s USP (unique selling proposition) and the type of consumers most likely to use it.
The budget allocation by media is established at this point. In our example, because of the need to reach a mass audience across Europe, the agency decides to invest in television in several markets, as the airline will be active across the continent. They consider that the best way to do this is to invest roughly a third of its budget on international media and two thirds on national TV channels.
At this stage, the agency will make a pre-selection of relevant media and properties which they think will best meet the strategy. They will then send a media brief to each of the media owners they have selected.
The client will generally establish Key Performance Indicators, known as KPIs, to measure the success of its campaign. These indicators will generally vary by media property and by media owners but examples include increases in brand awareness, brand favourability or ticket sales.
The media owners who have been contacted at this stage will each produce a proposal for the airline which they feel best addresses the brief sent to them by the agency, based on their own research and capabilities.
Research plays a central role in this process. The initial response to a client or advertiser brief will have audience research as a core element. The aim is to show an evidence-based connection between the client’s target audience and the media products that will connect with that audience.
This may include:
- Primary research, i.e. information about the target audience which the media owner itself has undertaken, such as web analytics data, viewer surveys or case studies from previous advertising campaigns.
- Secondary research, i.e. careful use of commercially available information such as syndicated survey data, web and TV audience figures, industry reports, etc.
In this case, a reach and frequency analysis on the two tiers of the airline’s target audience predicts the effectiveness of their own media. This will be a key statistic for the agency when making their media allocation.
At this stage, the agency and the client review and make their final decision on which media owners they think will best execute the strategy.
The media buying strategy used by the agency will take into account the various elements offered by media owners in their proposals. This may include advertising positions, promotions, events, brand exclusivity, PR exercises, research investment and editorial support.
The media agency compiles a detailed media plan which contains detailed timings, expenditure, predicted reach and frequency for the campaign across the various media outlets they have chosen.
There will be some discussion between the agency and media owner once the media has been selected. This is known as the booking process.
The production of creative material may happen at any stage before broadcast. Material can be produced by a specialised production company or in other cases the media owners themselves.
Reports detailing which elements of a campaign ran on-air (broadcast certificates) are provided by the media owner. For auditing purposes the agency may request to see independent certificates verifying that broadcast occurred – these can be provided by ad monitoring agencies. Kantar Media is the main provider of monitoring advertising expenditure of the major international TV channels in Europe.
delivered according to the agreed KPIs. While TV reporting is usually done at the end of campaign periods, digital performance can be tracked on an ongoing basis.
The agency may carry out a post campaign analysis. It may undertake this independently or in conjunction with the various media owners which have carried the campaign. The aim is to review campaign performance with the client and may include analysis of audience response, such as changes in brand awareness, brand attributes and favourability.
In the case of Dream Air, the overall performance of the campaign will be re-assessed each year in light of the global marketing and commercial objectives set for the next 5 years. The next phase of the campaign strategy is established for the following year.