Media Plan: Why You Need It and How to Create It

Date: 2023-04-05 | Time of reading: 12 minutes (2277 words)

A media plan is a detailed project of advertising campaigns that are launched within a certain period of time. Typically, a media plan is created in the form of a table that contains information about advertising platforms and formats, main tasks, budget, forecasts, and plan implementation deadlines.

The article explains what a media plan is, why it is necessary to create one, and how to conduct media planning for a company effectively.

The reasons for compiling a media plan

You can launch advertising without a plan: choose platforms for placement, create several ads on them, pay the required amount and wait for the results. However, this approach is not efficient. To avoid wasting financial resources, a media plan is necessary.

A media strategy is an important process for large organizations investing significant amounts of money in advertising. Media planning consists of complex calculations, expert reviews, and specific arguments for the spread of the investment.

If you have a small budget and only a few platforms to place, creating a plan is also important because it contributes to better work and efficient fund management.

So, media planning is required in order to:

  • decide on the steps for product promotion. Planning reflects what exactly, in what way, with what budget and with what expected profits will be done in a specific time period.

  • keep track of interim results and manage the situation. By matching the actual results with the expected ones, you can adjust media planning for the better in time. For example, you can spend your budget on more effective advertising.

  • make a conclusion about the progress of the work done for a given period. It is essential for both marketers and businessmen to understand how effective the strategy has been. In the future, this will help to avoid mistakes.

What media planning consists of


The brief is an important document that includes the goals of the project and the necessary requirements. The brief formulates the client's expectations from the advertisement, as well as the performer's expectations of the tasks to deal with.

Important aspects of the brief are as follows:

  • what exactly is advertised;

  • who’s the buyer;

  • what competitors the company has. The format of the brief can vary. The main thing is the questions that structure the source data into a coherent and understandable assignment.

Example of a brief for an online shoe storeExample of a brief for an online shoe store

Media strategy

This strategy determines the place, frequency and duration of advertising.

Its main goals are:

  • identify the target audience;

  • find the right platforms to promote products;

  • understand what the cost estimate for each platform will be.

At the beginning of media strategy development, a specialist decides which promotion platforms to choose and allocates financial resources to them. Then the issue of the frequency and quantity of publications is resolved.

Launch schedule for advertising announcements

The launch schedule for advertising usually includes days, hours, and sometimes even minutes (for example, on the radio). It is compiled separately for each channel. The promotion period on different platforms may vary.

Summary table

When you have completed all of the previous steps, combine the information obtained into a single table.

It should include:

  • Names of advertising platforms;
  • The volume of the target audience on these channels;
  • Launch schedule for advertising announcements for each platform separately;
  • The amount of published content;
  • Advertising format (publication by bloggers, social media posts, or video ads);
  • The cost of each campaign;
  • Total budget;
  • Forecasting.

Feel free to include any additional items that are relevant for your organization.

How to create a media plan

If you have not previously created a media plan and are new to this business, start with the basics: analyzing the current market situation, defining the portrait of the target audience, and monitoring competitors.

Step-by-step instruction for successful media planning creation:

1. Market analysis and analysis of other companies' activities

This stage determines the position of your product in the market: what advantages it has, what problems it solves, how it differs from competitors' offerings. Also, pay attention to the disadvantages. They need to be identified in order to position yourself correctly.

Conduct an analysis of market saturation: how many similar products/services there are, which ones are the most popular, and which ones are losing in competition. To do this, use services that reflect customer requests in search (Google Search Console, Screaming Frog, Ahrefs etc). Study your competitors' advertising announcements in more detail, how they present themselves, where they promote their products, and how they run blogs on social networks. Note their advantages, adapt successful ideas for yourself, and learn from other companies' mistakes.

2. Identifying your target audience.

For effective advertising, make a clear portrait of your customer. You need to know what desires your product satisfies and what problems it solves. For example, many people buy branded items for a sense of "high status". Clothes for them are something like a mark of success in life. Another example is that people are more likely to go to organizations that have been in business for a long time to avoid the fear of the unknown in choosing services from new companies.

Think about the following points: why the consumer should choose you, what needs your product covers, whether your company matches the beliefs and hobbies of the buyer or not.

Then detail the portrait of the customer, such features as sex, age, place of residence, status, solvency, hobbies, place of work and more.

Once you have gathered the necessary information, you can easily create a portrait of your target audience. This way you position your products with more success, choosing relevant platforms for promotion.

3. Formulating the goal of advertising

Before you get started with media planning, it's important to define your goals. They affect the following steps: selection of platforms and advertising formats, setting KPIs and analysis of effectiveness. Statement of goals depends on the existing problems and desires of the company. For example, a new company needs to make a name for itself in the market and attract a large audience in order to get a good start in business. Organizations that have been operating for a long time and already have their own customer base need to increase profits, maintain their rating and consumer attention.

There are a variety of goals, and it is important to set them clearly and thoughtfully. The SMART system is a great way to set measurable and effective goals.

The SMART goal

4. Choosing advertising сhannels and formats

At this stage, a media plan is being created. There are several options: using ready-made templates, creating a plan yourself in a table using Microsoft Excel, or turning to special services.

The following information is entered into a summary table: the timing of advertising campaigns, their placement locations, and formats. As a result, you form a schedule for releasing different types of advertising on various platforms.

Advertising channels are selected based on the features and objectives of the company, the presence of target customers, and the planned budget. Also, consider other places to promote your products: advertising on radio and TV, in magazines. There is internet advertising of various formats - banners, guest blogging, advertising on social networks, targeting or teasers.

Platforms are evaluated based on various indicators. To determine the popularity of an information resource, request data on coverage, placement costs, and so on.

5. Budget allocation

The organization's management or client allocates a specific budget for advertising, after which the marketing specialist's task is to distribute the funds wisely among different channels to maximize profits. Platforms are arranged hierarchically and the budget is distributed taking into account the expected conversions. There is also an opposite approach: the marketer proposes their promotion plan, calculates how much money is needed, and then justifies the budget. For this purpose, the cost of each platform is calculated and future profits are forecasted.

6. Establishing KPIs

KPI (Key Performance Indicator) is a value that demonstrates how effectively an organization achieves its main goals. They are established for the overall plan and separately for each platform.

The choice of performance indicators depends on the goals of the company. For example, if you need to increase profits, choose the following metrics:

  • ROI (Return on Investment) - a value that reflects the return on investment. It is calculated as the ratio of advertising profit to marketing expenses (employee compensation, budget, etc.);

  • ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) - another coefficient that determines whether the money invested in advertising promotion is returned. The formula for calculation is the ratio of the profit received from one campaign to the total amount spent on the advertising budget.

For each channel, its own KPIs are established. Let's consider the most commonly used metrics for analyzing internet advertising:

  • CTR (click-through rate) - the ratio of clicks or clicks on an ad to the total number of impressions.

  • Audience coverage - a value that shows the number of people who saw the ad or publication.

  • CR (conversion rate) - the ratio of the number of website users who have taken a specific action to the total number of visitors. It is measured as a percentage.

7. Tracking the effectiveness of media planning

After launching a campaign, constantly compare the initial indicators with the planned ones. The effectiveness of online advertising should be monitored daily. This way you can quickly modify non-clickable ads and avoid wasting money. If you have a large organization, consider manually reviewing requests from each channel using analytics services (for example, Google Analytics). Outdoor advertising requires independent verification, as it is difficult to automate its effectiveness evaluation. Monitoring online channels is best done through end-to-end analytics, where information is collected from all sources. This allows you to compare actual performance with expected performance at any planning stage. If there is a significant difference from the KPI, review the strategy and desired metrics. Experts establish the groundwork for the upcoming campaign when crafting a media plan.If you thoughtfully think out the structure, set the right goals and objectives, choose the necessary performance indicators, advertising will lead you to success.

How to determine if a media plan is working

It's important to track the following metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of your plan: cost per click, website traffic, and conversion rate. Check the number of leads generated by the sales department. Also, keep an eye on the latest news in the market. For instance, if any advertising channel is no longer in demand by the audience, make urgent changes to it. A great method to analyze effectiveness is to use a comprehensive analytics tool that combines all the necessary instruments, called cross-channel analytics. It provides regular access to current data.

What does an example media plan look like?

A media plan for each company is unique. The only thing that remains constant is the format in the form of a table, the content and filling of which is determined by the marketer. When creating a media plan, templates available online can be used, and then the ready-made sample can be expanded according to the company's goals and specifics.

Изображение: The media planThe media plan can look like the example above

Media Planning Software

The following specialized services are used for creating large media plans:

  • Galileo is an excellent choice for advertising firms, publishers, and television organizations.

  • Mediator is a Windows-only program that calculates the main advertising indicators on all channels.

  • TV Planet is a program designed for planning advertising campaigns on television. It functions for those who place, create, and sell advertising.

  • Schedule Builder is also designed for TV advertising. This program takes into account factors such as competition, prime time, and viewer preferences.

  • SuperNova is a program for advertising on radio platforms. It is mainly used by advertising agencies, media companies, and various publishers.

  • Excom Media Planner finds and analyzes ratings data on radio, print, television, internet, and outdoor advertising.


A media plan is a table developed by specialists that contains information on launching advertising campaigns. The media plan presupposes the availability of a budget, forecasts, advertising platforms, formats, and so on.

At the beginning of media planning, it is necessary to obtain a brief with a specific task. Next, conduct a market analysis, determine the target audience, establish the main objectives of the campaign, create a schedule, choose channels, and for each of them, create a budget, after which all data is entered into a common table.

Be sure to monitor the effectiveness of advertising using analytics and adjust the plan as necessary. For example, move from outdated spaces to new platforms, redistributing the budget.

Large organizations typically use specialized services for media planning. Note that creating a plan there occurs only for one medium.







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