Media Planning: Using Conventional Wisdom in an Unconventional World

Media Planner
Published 11/9/16
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While making our way through a presentation of proposed media placements for one of our clients, a go-to wisdom of travel targeting was mentioned: that women are the decision-makers when it comes to planning a vacation and thus should be a focal point when deciding an advertising strategy. 

This, of course, is how it works in my household so I didn’t question it when I learned the stat. Instead, my mind raced through the numerous vacations I’ve been on with my husband. From the destination to the activities to the lodging to the food, it is standard for me to scope out and plan each trip. My husband then just tags along with a smile on his face, holding my hand and saying, “where to next?” So, of course, this must be a true stat across the millions of households we are trying to reach, right? 

And that’s how easy it is to fall into one of the biggest mistakes of advertising: not stepping outside of our own experiences, our own thoughts, our own opinions, to think how the rest of the world works. You see, it is 2016 after all, a time where the conventional household is dwindling in the emergence of the new normal. A normal where there might not always be a husband and wife. There might be a husband and husband, a wife and wife, any combination of the two or no marriage at all. Consequently, to think in the linear path that women are the travel decision-makers neglects a whole side of potential tourists.

So then the question poses itself, “how do we use conventional wisdom in an unconventional world?” To me, that is the hardest and most enjoyable part of advertising; stepping out of our own shoes into those belonging to a completely different human being. This business truly is for the curious and creative soul, the person that questions convention. 

So while strategizing a media plan, designing a creative, or crafting content, we must remember to step back and ask ourselves: Is this just how I see it, or is this actually going to be effective to our audience? Who is our audience? No, I mean, who are they really? Not just who they are to me. 

This is where stats and data come into play. While working on one campaign targeting farmers in rural, small counties in Colorado, I initially assumed that they were old-fashioned, unplugged people who may use a flip phone for the seldom call. Of course, I now know to never make assumptions—because when our data came back to us, we found that not only did our desktop placements tank, but our mobile placements soared. These rural farmers didn’t just use the latest iPhone and Androids, they were attached at the hip to them.

The takeaway here is that the key to a successful targeting strategy is to let the stats and data drive, while letting the imagination run a little wild in order to tap into what makes others tick.