My inspiration for this column was an online media plan spreadsheet. Yup, a spreadsheet representing an online media plan. You know what I call that? A media plan summary.
Many times I see agencies large and small presenting the days, and even weeks, of planning and negotiating that went into creating a plan as a simple table of site names, impression levels, flight dates, high-level placement details, and creative specs and costs. The problem with this way of presenting a plan: it minimizes the effort that goes into producing an online plan (which is always underappreciated) and cheapens a process that I hold sacred.
Show your clients how much thought and research goes into an online campaign. The following, though not exhaustive, are important and add depth to a successful online media plan:
- Strategy and tactics. Remind your client of your agreed approach to the planning process. It’s funny how often both agency- and client-side people lose sight of this.
- Target audience. Same deal as above — set the stage by reminding all the players who you’re going after in the plan.
- Audience research. Talk about all the research you did on your target audience’s online and offline behavior — anything that will impact your media planning process and choices.
- Metrics for success. This is the biggest item that’s rarely published in a media plan. It’s like the metrics and definition of success are an afterthought. A good interactive marketer embraces metrics by showing a sample report and agreeing on optimization and success factors. Of course, you can establish metric-based goals here as well.
- Possible performance and branding split. Some of your placements and campaign may be more for branding. Establish the branding metrics for those, and establish that some placements (that you’ll call out in the plan) can’t be viewed through the same lenses applied to the campaign’s performance portion (lead gen, sales, etc.).
- Universe of opportunities. Show the client all the sites you looked at, not just the ones in your plan. Demonstrate that you left no stone unturned in your research, and highlight the sites the client asked to be included.
- Vetting process and RFP (define) list. Explain the selection criteria you applied to all the sites in the universe of opportunities and show the sites you requested an RFP from. Factors often include index, Alexa rating (percentage of traffic within a category), competitive presence, editorial quality, and the like.
- Examination and evaluation process. Before you jump from the RFP list to the plan you want, describe the vetting process you applied to the proposals you got. Factors here clearly differ from the factors that went into the building the RFP list. They include price, innovation, value-added placements, performance clauses, and so on.
- Final plan summary. This is where the spreadsheet comes in. This is a roundup of all the sites that made the final cut. If you have branding and performance campaigns, split them up here. Include site names, impression and click levels, placement details, flight schedules, and price. Total and average everything neatly at the bottom.
- Client schedule. Interject with a client schedule here to set up your flight schedule. Show anything that will impact your plan’s flight schedule — events, product launches, marketing/offline campaign calendar, seasonality, holidays, and so on.
- Flight schedule. Create a line or bar graph (or other graphical representation) showing impression levels and clicks, and plot items from the client schedule. Break it in two if you must, as the performance campaign may have different peaks and valleys or consistency levels than the branding campaign.
- Integration. Show any linkages you created with the offline portions of integrated buys you did with the offline planning teams.
- Hero slide. This is where you show the client why they hired you. Did you get 40 percent of rate card on a site? Get $25,000 worth of value-added placements? Knock a competitor out of a prime slot? Bought something new and cool? This is where you call it out!
- Up-sell slide. I’ve yet to have a budget where I could do everything I wanted to. Here you show what you would do if you had more budget. You never know if money can be freed up somewhere else. Why not have an online home for those funds ready to go?
- Plan details. This is often in the addendum as it can be a lot of information. However, when you get questions on a particular placement or site, and you will, this is where you turn. I like to have my team show screen captures of the sections and positions we bought and sample ad units. We also include the site’s description and the justifications as to why we selected the site.
- Competitive placements and creative. Certainly competitive creative and offers need to be shared with the client and creative team as soon as possible so they can incorporate then into what’s being done on the creative side. However, I often find it a helpful addendum item in the plan as well.
Don’t forget to send well-worded rejection letters to the sites and reps who took the time to send you proposals. They will appreciate it, I assure you. Also, send thank-you notes to the sites that gave you a great deal and made you look like a hero.
Did I leave anything out? Let me know!
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