In search of the ‘right’ media weight: why planners have to be people and idea centric when planning channels

Weight_lifting this is honestly a picture you get on the first page when you Google images for 'weights'  honest.  click here if you don't believe me… (source)

right, I thought I'd share a question I was asked and the answer I gave.  would be interested in what other people thought on this…


"What is the right media weight?"

"Sounds simple enough and when it comes to TV people seem to just know or we have some sort of Excel macro model which will help you put some pseudo science behind it but my main concern is other channels. For example – I’ve seen some stuff on the ppa website which recommends planning weekly GRPs with 30 / week banded around at some point in the article. But what about digital? What about outdoor? Is that right for print? Does it carry through to newspapers?  I suppose what I’m trying to get to is what is the ideal campaign?"


It’s an impossible question.  theoretically there is probably a ‘best’ weight for a
broadcast media channel (be it AV, print etc), where ‘best’ = most coverage / notice for least investment /
activity.  but there are influencers that will hugely affect and
ultimately change what the ideal weight is…

Creative – how strong or good is it… the better (and
that’s a fat word but run with it) the less ‘media’ you probably need
Brand – popular / loved / sought-for brands (I’d suggest)
get away with lighter weights than the Ronseals of the world
Proposition / offer – attractive propositions or offers
generally need less weight – COI need more than hotly anticipated movies
Competitive context – more competitors (and more aggressive
competitors) will push up the weight you need to plan – eg supermarkets

To a large extent these are factors beyond the control of the media
(although not the comms) plan; there are two other key factors however that lie very much within your control that
determine best and relative weights

Media combination – the channel’s you’re using and the
relative effort in each will determine weights within channels (eg as a sweeping generalisation big TV =
only activation press)

Push versus pull – this is the biggie…  because all of the
above is based on the premise that all media works in the same way (AIDA models etc).  but this isn’t necessarily the case.  online media generally
isn’t pushed (although we’re doing our collective best to saturate the internet with display ads). rather it’s sought, word of mouthed (or moused), demanded,
controlled, aggregated, and of course ignored (depending on how you look at it)…  the weight needed for an amazing bit of content or
application could be two blogs (as it was in a recent bit of Anorak work for a
Madonna single).

What does this mean for media planning?

It means the question has to be turned on its head – rather
than asking what’s right for a media channel, you have to ask what’s right for the person you’re trying to

to quote (if you'll indulge me) the Vizeum website:

Rather than thinking, “what does the brand want to say?” we begin with: “what do consumers want to engage with?”
Rather than thinking, “what does the media plan look like?” we ask ourselves: “what is the story of engagement that we want to create?”

put simply, we need to turn the media plan on its head.  for too long planners have started with traditional solutions and then tried to
build in interaction and innovation at the back end.  we [Vizeum] start by identifying the defining moment – when people can participate in
and interact with the brand – and then build everything else around that moment

the right media weight is the right combination of weights
that will navigate the right people to that moment when people can and will most readily interact
with a brand.  the right media weight is the balancing act between all the
external and internal forces above.  but above all the right media weight is dependent on the
power of your idea…

Brilliant communication ideas have gravity – they pull
people (who pull other people) towards them.  media weight (and media planning) is therefore not about
being about channel centric, rather it’s about being people and idea centric.  and a good job too – otherwise the world would need a great
fewer media planners


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