Start with a Plan – You’ll Be Glad You Did

Digital marketing, or any form of marketing, is not a fire and then aim proposition.  However, in many cases, that’s exactly what happens.  This may be partially due to the rapid rate at which everything seems to change, like paid advertising on Google and Facebook.  So marketing mangers and digital teams often find themselves reacting in response to a change rather based on a plan.

However, if there’s no plan, things begin to go off the tracks and in the worst case, frustration and confusion set in as budgets get out of hand and everyone forgets what the objective were to begin with.  Marketing decision makers begin to evaluate the marketing efforts and costs but nobody’s really sure on what the goals were behind the ad spend and time.  There are dollars out, but nobody’s clear on what the return was intended to be.


What is a Media Plan?

The fact is, media planning is nothing new and the idea of media planning has been around as long as traditional marketing channels like TV and Radio have been around.  However, we’ve come a long way from media buying when TV and Radio were primary marketing channels.  Today, because of the easy access to video advertising on Youtube and paid advertising like search and ads on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.  Ad dollars can flow in many different directions.

Traditional media planning and media buying was once the world  of “Mad Men” and the 2-martini lunches.  Today, every SMB (small to medium sized business) would benefit from a good media plan to support their marketing.  Point is, media planning is not just for big businesses.

In fact, I would argue that a media plan has an even more important and more practical application for the SMBs.

  • A media plan keeps you on track.
  • A media plan helps you manage ad dollars wisely.
  • Over time, a media plan helps you learn what works for your business.

So What is a Media Plan?

There’s likely to be many definitions of what is or isn’t a media plan or what is or isn’t included in a media plan.  If you’re doing online and offline advertising, your media plan should include both as a matter of course as all ad spend should be working to support your marketing objectives.

From our perspective as a digital consultancy, we put a great deal of emphasis on digital channels and how they can support your overall marketing objectives spelled out in your marketing plan, or something that may be similar to a marketing plan anyway.

In simple terms

  • A Media Planning defines where you plan to invest time and budget over the course of the plan
    • On paid search like adwords ads
    • Advertising campaigns on social channels like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.
    • Investments in content creation to be used on social
    • Other forms of digital advertising like native ads and or display ads
    • Video Advertising such as YouTube
  • Other media plan considerations
    • What content will be needed?  Images, video, etc.
    • Who will be creating the content?  In-house?  Outsourced?
    • What’s the budget for the content
    • How will media buys be used to support sales and promotions
    • How and what will be measured?
  • Media Buying is the next step in the process.  It’s the act of executing the budgets and bidding for the various campaigns that run across the channels defined in the Media Plan.

Our Approach to Media Planning – A frequently forgotten part

Experience has taught us that there are many hidden elements that need to be considered before you embark on a media plan and that need to be addressed before media buying begins.  This would be your measurement plan and making sure all the needed elements are in place to insure that you can measure the effects of you media buys.

  • Is Google Analytics set up correctly
  • Is Google Tag Manager in place
  • What is a conversion
  • How are conversions going to be measured
  • Have all the required conversion tags been created
  • Have conversion tags been implemented correctly and debugged
  • Are you also going to be creating custom audiences and remarketing lists
    • These tags also need to be created and implemented before-hand


The measurement plan is the part of a Media Plan that we believe is often forgotten or never addressed but is as fundamental to digital marketing as the media buying itself.  I hope to cover more of our approach to holistic media planning in future posts.  However, for now, it’s important that you’re aware of some of the considerations.

A well constructed Media Plan can give you a great roadmap and provide you with security that things are on track.  When a good measurement plan is included, you’ll also have a good understanding on how your plan is playing out.