How To Create a Media Plan: Step by Step

Think about this: Your audience can’t cease speaking about one in all your adverts. 


As a result of all of them noticed it on the proper time and in the best place. 

That’s the influence of media planning. 

Media planning is an integral a part of the digital advertising ecosystem. 

This publish gives an introduction to media planning and detailed step-by-step directions that’ll enhance your data about media planning—and your possibilities of advertising success. 

Let’s dig in. 

Media planning is the method of figuring out how, when, and the place your adverts are proven to a focused viewers. Figuring out the why behind your media plan will show you how to maximize your advert marketing campaign’s attain. 

A media plan guides the media planning course of. Consider it as a blueprint to your marketing campaign efforts.

Your media plan ought to embrace:

  • Targets 
  • Audience 
  • Choice of media channels 
  • Useful resource allocation 
  • Scheduling technique for every chosen media car 

We’ll discover every in additional element within the directions in a while. 

Media planning helps the best prospects see your adverts in the best house, date, and time. And when performed proper, media planning can radically maximize your influence.

A standard media plan allows you to: 

  • Attain your audience 
  • Decide when to publish adverts 
  • Resolve which media channels to make use of
  • Decide the optimum frequency of adverts 
  • And, importantly, keep on funds 

A (stellar!) media plan additionally allows you to: 

  • Enhance your total model consciousness 
  • Allocate assets effectively and cost-effectively
  • Maximize engagement along with your audience
  • Construct consistency along with your advertising messaging
  • Develop deeper insights into your audience
  • Measure the effectiveness of your media planning
  • Achieve a aggressive benefit in your market

There are three basic sorts of media: paid media, earned media, and owned media. 

Every has the frequent purpose of participating along with your audience, however they obtain this by completely different means. 

Let’s have a look.

Paid media is advert content material positioned inside advertising channels owned by exterior media entities (e.g., an advert in an internet publication like Fortune, like within the instance beneath) in alternate for a price.

A paid ad for PWC (Price Waterhouse Cooper) appears on the right side of Fortune’s homepage.

Owned Media

Owned media is the location of advert content material inside channels the advertiser wholly owns (e.g., Forbes advertising its merchandise on their web site, as seen beneath). 

An ad for the Forbes store appears on Forbes’ website.

Earned Media

Earned media is the buildup of natural model mentions with out paid promotion. One of the frequent sorts of earned media is on-line opinions, like the instance beneath. Different earned media can embrace natural publicity within the press or social media.

An online review.

Media channels historically fall into offline and on-line channels.

  • Offline media channels embrace TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, and out-of-home promoting (reminiscent of billboards and wayfinding)
  • On-line media channels embrace social media, on-line video, and digital promoting (reminiscent of show and native adverts) 

Whereas offline media could be a profitable avenue for a lot of advertisers, as we speak we’re specializing in the right way to construct a plan for on-line media channels.

Let’s check out every step. 

Right here we lay out 10 steps to create an efficient media plan, whether or not you’re a media beginner or a media buff. 

1. Outline Marketing campaign Objectives and KPIs

To realize outcomes, it’s good to know what you wish to obtain. So first, outline your purpose campaigns and key efficiency metrics (KPIs) earlier than you choose media or create an advert. 

Start by aligning your marketing campaign targets to your enterprise targets, from growing model consciousness to producing gross sales. Examples of marketing campaign targets embrace: 

  • Enhance model consciousness from 25% to 40% amongst our audience throughout the subsequent six months
  • Obtain a 30% development in on-line gross sales of our flagship product throughout the first quarter of the yr in comparison with the prior yr
  • Generate 400+ certified leads for our upcoming product launch throughout the first six months of launch

Then, choose your KPIs primarily based in your goal. 

As an illustration, in case your goal is to extend model consciousness, your KPIs may concentrate on monitoring impressions and advert impression share. 

In case your goal is to extend on-line gross sales (like within the second instance), your KPIs may embrace monitoring product opinions (aka earned media) and click-through charges for on-line adverts that result in the product web page. 

Alternatively, in case your goal is to generate leads, your KPIs may embrace monitoring your cost-per-acquisition and the click-through charges for on-line adverts that result in a product demo. 

Use your KPIs to find out for those who’re on observe to realize marketing campaign targets, and permit for flexibility in your media plan in case your KPIs falter. (Extra on this later.)

2. Establish Your Goal Viewers

Earlier than you begin creating adverts, it’s good to know who you’re making an attempt to succeed in. 

Set a selected audience (or goal market) to make sure your media marketing campaign reaches the folks most definitely to be interested by your product, service, or content material.

Your audience might be outlined utilizing a combination of:

  • Demographics (e.g., gender and age)
  • Socioeconomics (e.g., schooling stage and job standing)
  • Media affinity (e.g., what blogs they go to and what apps they use)
  • Pursuits
  • Different defining traits

Your audience to your media marketing campaign may mirror your organization’s total audience, hyperfocus on a selected area of interest, or increase into a brand new market. 

Use the instruments at your disposal that can assist you outline your audience. 

Google Analytics has a free model of GA4 that firms can use to know their prospects higher. You need to use the user attributes overview report to see summarized information concerning the individuals who use your web site or app, reminiscent of age, gender, and site. 

Credit score: 

You’ll be able to go even deeper with instruments like Semrush’s Viewers Intelligence app, which gives key insights into numerous social shopper segments, permitting you to keenly perceive your audiences to focus on them extra successfully. 

Entry 9 sections of in-depth information in your viewers in every Viewers Intelligence report, together with demographics, socioeconomics, influencers and types, pursuits, media affinity, content material, persona, shopping for mindset, and on-line habits.

Audience Intelligence app shows audience demographics for Tesla.

The app additionally gives a comparability baseline for each viewers information level. Evaluate this quantity towards the nationwide or world common. Or use the baseline to determine tendencies distinctive to your viewers.

Within the Demographics tab in the Audience Intelligence app, the “Compare to” drop-down provides options to “Compare with a segment” or “Compare with a country.”

Strive it for your self. Create clearer viewers targets within the Semrush App Heart.

3. Carry out Aggressive Analysis 

Nobody actually likes interested by their competitors, however most do like interested by beating them. Consider performing aggressive intelligence as supplying you with a aggressive benefit.

Contemplate your targets and KPIs to resolve what aggressive analysis it’s good to do. This might embrace: 

  • Advert placements 
  • Common spend 
  • Viewers segments
  • Estimated impressions 
  • Media channels used
  • Media sorts used
  • Share of voice 

For instance, for those who plan to run a marketing campaign on social media to advertise a brand new product characteristic, have a look at the format of adverts your opponents use (e.g., reels, graphics, carousels, video, and so on.) 

Contemplate, too, what social media platforms they use, what day and time they publish, what hashtags they use, how lengthy their captions are, in the event that they use any influencers, and so on. 

Figuring out what media technique and distribution your opponents use will show you how to make smarter choices in order that your media plan surpasses theirs. 

Instruments like AdClarity, out there from the Semrush App Heart, optimize this aggressive analysis by enabling you to research your opponents’ digital campaigns and determine top-performing publishers, advertisers, advert networks, and businesses. 

For instance, you’ll be able to seek for a key phrase associated to your services or products and see the highest adverts to discover what audiences interacted with most.

The AdClarity app shows the top display ads for Nike.

It’s also possible to use aggressive intelligence to outline your advert artistic and placement by utilizing the app to see social advert sorts and video placements utilized by advertisers and publishers. 

The AdClarity app shows distribution for video and image ads and video ad placement.
The AdClarity app shows distribution for video and image ads and video ad placement.

Figuring out extra about your opponents helps you not solely benchmark towards them but in addition make extra worthwhile choices so your media plan propels you to the pinnacle of the pack. 

4. Set a Funds

The correct funds will get you the best outcomes—and make your advert {dollars} be just right for you. 

That may sound too good to be true, as setting a funds can generally really feel like a guessing sport for those who don’t have the best intel. 

Keep away from the guesswork (and relieve a number of the pure budgeting anxiousness) by understanding what the market is doing. And be happy to make use of a few of our information from a current benchmark research that can assist you. 

Debating what platforms to place your funds towards? Try the typical month-to-month advert spend distribution for every. 

Digital ad spend distribution by platform

Attempting to resolve the right way to greatest distribute funds between channels? Try the stats. 

Digital ad spend distribution by channel

5. Decide Your Media Combine

Subsequent, choose your media combine: the mix of media utilized in an advert marketing campaign, together with every medium’s allotted advert funds. 

However excellent news! You’ve already performed a variety of the laborious work, making this subsequent half simpler. 

Your aggressive analysis provides you a sign of what media your opponents use (and the way that’s performing). The benchmark information on advert spending provides you a sign of what channels and platforms are most cost-effective. 

And your audience provides you perception into your viewers’s traits, preferences, and habits patterns.

Primarily based on all you’ve collected, you’ve got the intel it’s good to decide what channels will show you how to obtain your targets. 

Given we’re specializing in digital media planning, right here’s a pattern of what a media combine may appear to be for a B2B firm trying to promote an upcoming webinar: 

  • Social media (60% of the funds)
  • On-line video (20% of the funds) 
    • Focus: Mid-roll adverts on YouTube 
  • Show promoting (20% of the funds)
    • Focus: Show adverts on B2B trades

Contemplate what motion you need your audience to take to find out your media combine and use the info to allocate your media funds accordingly. 

It’s also possible to use the Channels Distribution characteristic in AdClarity to see a breakdown of show, video, and social advert distribution to your opponents’ domains.

The AdClarity app shows a comparison between Display, Video, and Social ad distribution for and

6. Develop a Media Technique

Now, it’s time to get savvy. Creating your customized media technique will considerably rely in your trade and marketing campaign targets, however these strategies may also help you outline your go-to strategy. 

  • Choose your media property. Every platform has completely different advert choices you’ll want to select from. Publishers have various show advert decisions, from banner adverts to lightbox shows. Every social app additionally has various visible choices, from static graphics to carousels to movies. 
    • Lean into your audience’s media habits and habits patterns to resolve what sorts of adverts your artistic asset(s) must be.
  • Select your advert placement. Be strategic about the place to place your adverts on every channel. Refer again to your earlier analysis for perception.
A distribution of where ads are placed on a webpage

Should you plan to position a video advert on YouTube, use AdClarity to evaluate high YouTube channels to think about. 

The AdClarity app shows the YouTube channels advertises on. 

And in case your advert is occurring social media, the “Social networks” widget inside AdClarity exhibits you the evaluation of a single advertiser area on the social channel. 

The AdClarity app shows ad metrics from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. 
  • Decide your advert artistic (aka imagery, design, and content material). Work carefully along with your copywriters to determine what copy will resonate along with your viewers and get them to have interaction along with your advert. (Psst—take a look at our copywriting ideas to jazz up your copy!) 
    • Work carefully along with your designers to make sure your advert visually speaks to your viewers and works properly with every chosen platform (together with sizing). And keep in mind that clear and constant messaging throughout your media marketing campaign might be your key to success. 
  • Contemplate all media sorts. Bear in mind once we talked concerning the three media types (paid, owned, and earned)? Put your data into follow by deciding how a lot your advert or advert marketing campaign will lean into every to succeed in your targets.
    • For instance, if one in all your KPIs was growing your opinions (aka earned media), take into account what property to create and what messaging to incorporate to get prospects to assessment your services or products. 

7. Create a Media Schedule

Really feel that? That’s referred to as readability. And we’re nearly able to hit “go” in your media plan. 

However first, create a media schedule to hone in on when and the way usually your audience will see your adverts. You’ll additionally want to have interaction with media house owners at this stage to get a way of their out there stock.

Begin by making a timeline to your media plan, together with your media flight (the outlined interval when an advert or advert marketing campaign is lively and visual to its audience), and fasten a funds to it.

Use aggressive intelligence to choose the best time to your marketing campaign by searching for tendencies amongst opponents and publishers. 

AdClarity provides impressions for and

However notice that your marketing campaign targets will enormously decide your media flight. As an illustration, if you wish to get 300 leads inside three months, you wouldn’t select a media flight that’s six months lengthy, proper? Proper. 

You’ll additionally want to find out the frequency of your advert or advert marketing campaign, or how usually you need your audience to see your advert. Our tip? Plan forward to permit for changes on the highway forward. 

Media Plan Instance + Template

To get a head begin, obtain free budgeting media plan templates from Smartsheet, together with an annual media plan template, as seen right here:

Example of a spreadsheet showing monthly and quarterly ad spend for media.

8. Execute the Media Plan

You’ve made it! It’s time to hit “go” in your media plan. 

This implies launching your campaigns in your numerous advert platforms and scheduling adverts for authorised dates and instances. 

Whereas we’re not on the end line but, it took a variety of laborious work to get right here. It’s OK to take a second and admire that. 

9. Monitor and Optimize

Now that your advert marketing campaign has launched, don’t take your eyes off it.

Observe how your marketing campaign is performing and make changes as wanted, out of your frequency to even your messaging. Being agile will get you additional in a altering media panorama.

For instance, beneath is a LinkedIn advert that, according to them, carried out properly. Now, think about you had two variations of this advert operating: one the place the button says “Obtain right here” (like beneath) and one other that claims “Get the information.”

A LinkedIn ad for DevOps.

What in case your information exhibits that the “Obtain right here” advert performs considerably higher? Maybe you nix the opposite advert and reallocate the funds to the messaging with the upper efficiency. 

In one other scenario, Wednesdays get the best engagement throughout your media combine. You could possibly transfer some funds from different days of the week to capitalize on Wednesday’s traction. 

Needing to regulate your media plan doesn’t imply your authentic plan failed. Optimization is a part of the method and can get you nearer to your targets. 

10. Measure Outcomes and Alter

The time has come to reap the rewards—and plan for subsequent time!

Return to your authentic targets and KPIs, then dive into your information trove to see how your media plan carried out. 

Wanting on the examples from Step 1, right here’s how outcomes may look: 

  • Instance Goal 1: Enhance model consciousness from 25% to 40% amongst our audience throughout the subsequent six months.
    • Instance Outcomes 1: We elevated model consciousness from 25% to 39% amongst our goal market during the last six months, hitting just below our purpose of 40%. 
  • Instance Goal 2: Obtain a 30% development in on-line gross sales of our flagship product throughout the first quarter of the yr in comparison with the prior yr. 
    • Instance Outcomes 2: We achieved a forty five% development in on-line gross sales of our flagship produced throughout the first quarter, 15% greater than our supposed purpose of 30%. 

Discover your information to know what your viewers engaged with most and what labored greatest so you’ll be able to capitalize on these tendencies in your subsequent media marketing campaign. 

After all, the truth is that some outcomes might be lower than preferrred. Wanting on the third instance from Step 1, right here’s an alternate actuality: 

  • Instance Goal 3: Generate 400+ certified leads for our upcoming product launch throughout the first six months of launch.
    • Instance Outcomes 3: We generated 333 certified leads throughout the first six months of the launch of Product X, -16.75% lower than our purpose of 400. 

On this case, all just isn’t misplaced. Use the info from this marketing campaign to make completely different decisions within the subsequent marketing campaign. Establish the marketing campaign’s weaknesses and search for alternative areas to teach future choices. 

Bear in mind, each media marketing campaign is a win as a result of it provides you additional insights into your audience—together with what they may and gained’t interact with. 

Now that you understand how to create a media plan, get acquainted with potential hurdles to keep away from (and the right way to overcome them).

Keep As much as Date with a Altering Media Panorama

The media panorama is ever-evolving. 

Simply consider social media! Fb bought the primary paid social media advert in 2005. Lower than 20 years later, social media advert spending stood at about $230 billion and is predicted to surpass $300 billion by 2024. 

As publishers proceed to get extra artistic about advert shopping for choices, new media codecs are launched (like YouTube Shorts and Instagram Tales), and new platforms like TikTok and BeReel are launched, there’s at all times one thing new. 

Sustain with the altering media panorama to capitalize on the developments. Our ideas? Observe media-specific promoting awards like Digiday to see what’s profitable. And subscribe to trade commerce newsletters like Marketing Brew for the newest information.

Keep away from Media Planning Fatigue with Automated Assist

Advertising—and media planning particularly—might be fatiguing. In accordance with a Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) survey, 52% of entrepreneurs concern burning out. 

So how do you keep away from undue stress as a marketer and media planner? Outline your duties and assess what might be automated, as a result of not the whole lot must be guide. 

As an illustration, instruments like Viewers Intelligence show you how to get deep viewers analysis in a single place (versus checking channels by hand). In minutes, you’ll be able to determine untapped audiences (as an alternative of doing guesswork) and see how your viewers interacts along with your opponents (as an alternative of manually reviewing their feedback). 

Use automation that can assist you work smarter—and get outcomes simpler. 

Combine Media Planning into the Wider Advertising Plan 

Keep away from letting your media planning or media group fall right into a silo. 

As a substitute, guarantee your media plan aligns along with your group’s bigger advertising plan and that each work concurrently to realize enterprise targets. 

This cohesion will make sure that all advertising efforts are constant—and may extra persistently join along with your audience. 

Know the Terminology: Media Planning Glossary

Get on a first-name foundation with frequent media planning phrases so advertising jargon by no means prevents you from seeing outcomes. 

  1. Advert Purchase: buying advert house or time on numerous media channels supposed to succeed in a specified audience.
  2. Advert Impressions Share: the share of advert impressions an advert or advert marketing campaign generated in comparison with the full doable impressions inside a media channel.
  3. Advert Stock: the full inventory of obtainable advert house or time slots media platforms have to supply advertisers.
  4. Advert Placement: the advert areas out there, together with dimension, sort, and site (i.e., the place a show advert goes on an internet site or a print advert is positioned in a newspaper).
  5. Click on-By way of Charge (CTR): a metric measuring the effectiveness of a digital advert or advert marketing campaign on a specific web site, primarily based on the variety of customers who clicked on an outlined hyperlink.
  6. Aggressive Intelligence: gathering information about opponents’ advertising and enterprise actions to assist inform decision-making in media planning—and past.
  7. Value Per Acquisition (CPA): a metric quantifying an advertiser’s whole value to amass a brand new buyer or lead by a media marketing campaign.
  8. Value Per Click on (CPC): the financial quantity an advertiser spends to get an advert clicked.
  9. Dayparting: a technique of scheduling adverts or advert campaigns to run throughout explicit instances or days of the week to succeed in a audience successfully.
  10. Frequency: the typical variety of instances somebody was uncovered to an advert or advert marketing campaign over an outlined interval.
  11. Gross Ranking Factors (GRP): the viewers dimension reached by an advert or advert marketing campaign, calculated by multiplying the attain (expressed as a decimal) by the frequency.
  12. Impressions: the full variety of instances an advert or advert marketing campaign was displayed.
  13. Impressions Share: a metric that measures how successfully an advert marketing campaign reaches its audience in comparison with the full potential impressions.
  14. Media Funds: the allotted funds for an advert or advert marketing campaign throughout numerous channels inside a selected timeframe.
  15. Media Purchase: buying advert house or time on numerous media channels supposed to succeed in a specified audience.
  16. Media Artistic: an advert’s precise imagery, design, and content material.
  17. Media Analysis: inspecting out there information—from media consumption to viewers habits to aggressive evaluation—to tell media planning.
  18. Media Schedule: a timetable detailing when and the place commercials will seem throughout various media channels to maximise influence.
  19. Media Automobile: a selected TV program, web site, journal, radio station, and so on. used to hold an advert or advert marketing campaign (e.g., Cosmopolitan is a media car).
  20. Return on Funding (ROI): a metric assessing the effectiveness and profitability of advert efforts by taking internet earnings, dividing them by the funding made, and calculating a proportion.

You made it. the necessities of media planning, the various kinds of media, and what steps to take to get outcomes that’ll make your opponents jealous (and your group proud).

Now you’re able to create an epic media plan that maximizes engagement along with your audience, provides you a aggressive benefit in your trade, and cost-effectively will get your message on the market. 

The most effective factor you can do subsequent is to start. 

As you go, keep in mind that each marketing campaign will provide you with new perception to enhance the following one after which the following one.

And while you want extra assist within the meantime, entry your secret media planning weapons within the Semrush App Heart.