5 Ways to Maximize Your Media Budget at Any Level

The marketing world seems to be getting more challenging and competitive by the day. And the complexity of the business and media landscape has made budgets at every level feel pressurized and stretched thin. Because of this, every marketer knows they must make every marketing dollar count – whether the budget is in the thousands or the millions, the main goal is to deliver disproportionate return on your investment. Here are some key approaches and tips we employ to do just that.

1. Don’t just target. Pinpoint.

Every marketer wants to reach –  and persuade – the largest group of consumers they can. But casting a wide net can be the wrong approach. First, it generates a superficial and homogenized view of your consumer (“Age 18+,” anyone?). Second, it’s hard to do an effective job of reaching such broad swaths of consumers. Instead, we recommend identifying more richly defined target groups inside that comprehensive segment.

One way to do this is to identify traits that span beyond demographics such as age and gender. Hone in on a target audience with a specific frame of mind or interest. This demographic is easier to reach, more interesting to create content for, and far more likely to convert. Even better is if you can really “own” this target vs. who your competition is targeting. For example, for a food brand that mainly targets men, instead of simply targeting the broad “bros” that our competitors focused on, we identified our consumer as craft-beer enthusiasts. This elevated the media plan above generic, resulting in a more precise match between content and context and a number of extremely effective brand integrations we might otherwise never have found.

2. Set the right goal posts.

Almost all marketers and media companies measure their media performance in some way. However, it is key to not just use basic or customary measures. Understand how success looks for you and use the most relevant and specific metrics to track it. Key performance indicators (KPIs) should not be a laundry list, but instead clearly linked to brand objectives. At LC, we use the Consumer Decision Journey (CDJ) model to set KPIs at each phase that correlate to that phase’s main objectives. This ensures that all media performance is measured against its ability to convert the target into loyal, profitable customers.

3. Maximize your owned channels.

Far too often, media companies only consider the brand’s paid audiences. But most should consider their owned channels first. What are some ways to do this? Leverage your website by making sure it’s easy to navigate and clearly defines who you are, what you do, has quality content and is optimized for search. Consider and plan how to use your social platforms to maximize your efforts. Look for ways to leverage your loyal customers to share the message to their friends and family. Consider an email marketing program against your customer relationship management (CRM) system or other database list. In conjunction with paid media, owned channels can turbocharge your efforts.

4. Invest in paid search.

Think paid search is only for e-commerce brands? Think again. Paid search is an opportune way to ensure current campaigns are working to their fullest and are properly optimized. Paid search reaches people at the precise time of interest and need when they are actively searching for your brand, service or category. This means you can be there with the right message at the right time. And if you aren’t, your competitors are sure to be instead.

5. Don’t get too thin. Or too thick.

In today’s fragmented and complex media ecosystem, it can be tantalizing to want to try many different tactics and media types. When planning your media strategy, make sure you are expanding out into new vehicles and platforms judiciously. Concentrate on channels that allow you to be targeted while reaching prospects at an impactful frequency. Don’t rely on just one channel to achieve your objectives — the media landscape is not consumed like this. As far as adding new media and tactics, try testing and experimenting to see what’s working before rolling out and committing bigger dollars. Finally, make sure your message is consistent across all your channels and that all channels align with how your target is engaging with various media on a daily basis.

At the end of the day, media is not just about “spots and dots.” Without the right strategy in place, much of your budget can be under-leveraged to misunderstandings about your target, what channels are best for your audience or how to measure your efforts. This is why it’s important to work with a team that takes the time to understand your brand, your consumer, the media context, and the interaction of those three. Only in this way can you make sure you’re getting the best bang for your marketing buck.

Want to learn more about how to take your digital marketing from now to next? Reach out to Mat Lignel at 844.LC.IDEAS and let’s chat.

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2014 Key Media Stats | Quarter 3

Do you feel overwhelmed with the flood of industry e-newsletters and publications? Do you wish you could get top-line media insights in an easy to read document each quarter? If you said yes, this is the place to be. This quarter’s key media stats focuses on what the smartphone user demographically looks like, mobile app vs web usage, device penetrations and top-line Hispanic media information.

Check back each quarter for updated reports and breathe easier.

[click the image to enlarge]

Key Media Stats_Q32014

It’s (Not) all about the Money

This story begins when Max Ahlborn, a judge for One Show (an international advertising award show), noticed a pattern. Nearly every submission he reviewed included “crescendos of press and blog posts along side a proud announcement that not a single dollar had been spent on a media buy. A pattern that in just a few hours had become, well, slightly cliche.”[1] His critical view of the ad industry’s tendency to overhype page views and no media spend is something I share.

To highlight his point, Ahiborn created and launched a website, nomediaspend.com. He used no money to promote the site, only his and fellow judges’  Twitter accounts. Within a day, the site’s counter hit the 10,000 mark and multiple media outlets covered the story. He even created a case study video, that mocks the typical format advertisers use when presenting and highlighting an ad campaign’s effectiveness. The video uses advertising lingo and sophisticated-looking (read: confusing) charts to create the aura of a marketing success.

This campaign is truly clever. It’s both creative and tongue-in-cheek; a combination that, in this case, generated significant attention. It also ironically highlights his issue: getting people to talk about a brand doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve created a successful and effective campaign.  Other metrics are needed.

Advertising exists to generate sales and increase profit. The amount spent on media is merely a detail, not a goal. A campaign that generates one hundred views, spends nothing on media, and results in no sales is not necessarily better than one that spends $10 for 50 media impressions and generates $20 in sales. Never mind that both types of campaigns incur costs during ideation, production, and maintenance.  Each brand, product, message is best presented in a certain way and through a certain medium. If 100,000 views without spending a cent of media increase sales, great. If it requires buying media, cool. Particularly during our ‘social age,’ it’s easy to get in lost in the metrics of earned media (likes, tweets, shares, etc). But, at the end of the day, we’re here to increase a brand’s profits. And sometimes, but not always, it takes [media] money to make money.



[1] http://creativity-online.com/news/breels-max-ahlborn-on-being-cheap/149619

Stop yelling at the TV. Start talking to it.

A conversation with your TV might currently consist of a string of expletives after your football team fumbles. Or maybe a gasp of disbelief after a particularly jarring episode of Downton Abbey.  But according to a recent AdAge article, a partnership between Viacom and Zeebox is giving consumers an opportunity to further engage with their TVs via a platform called SpotSynch.

Zeebox is a website and mobile app that can be utilized in conjunction with TV consumption. As stated on their website, “Zeebox is your TV sidekick – an interactive second screen that makes TV more social, clever and fun.” For example, you can tweet about what you’re watching, chat with friends that are watching the same program or even get more information about a topic being mentioned on TV by clicking on a tag dubbed zeetag.

With SpotSynch, digital ads relevant to a commercial will appear on Zeebox while the spot is being aired, giving advertisers an opportunity to immediately engage and interact with what might otherwise be a passive TV consumer. Looking at recent stats, this makes a lot of sense.

  • 28% of boomers looked up a product advertised during a TV show (Source: GfK MRI iPanel Reporter, Fall 2012)
  • 85% of tablet / smartphone owners use their device while watching TV at least once a month with 40% of them doing it daily (Source: Nielsen, November 2013)
  • 53% of US Internet users use their computer when watching TV, 16% use their smartphone and 9% use their tablet. (Source: Ipsos Media CT as cited by Interactive Advertising Bureau, “Screens: What Are Peple Doing…and Why?” May 16, 2012)

To read more about these multitasking trends, check out this neilsenwire article that provides insights into simultaneous usage.

Prepare Your Media Plan for the Political Season

Today the nation is closely following the gubernatorial recall election in Wisconsin because of the political implications to the presidential election this fall. With the barrage of commercials from candidates, how can you best prepare your media plan for the political season?

In April, Laughlin Constable spoke to Rich Kirchen of the Milwaukee Business Journal, sharing our thoughts on how to plan ahead to manage the preemption of our clients’ television spots.

  • Did you know that Federal law requires television stations to air political ads and provide them with the lowest unit rate? For all non-political advertisers that drives up the cost on the remaining inventory.
  • In regional markets, political advertising can lead to increased costs and a tightening of inventory, typically 60 to 90 days prior to the election date. And it’s not uncommon for rates to increase 10-15% in day parts such as primetime and news.

In a heavy political environment finding acceptable make-good locations, when schedules are bumped, can sometimes pose a challenge. When faced with such challenges, how can you best prepare your client and media plan for the political season?

  • We believe in forming strong relationships with our media representatives so when a situation like this happens we are alerted in advance.
  • If the market is just too tight we will suggest shifting dollars out of TV and into radio – where there is usually less inventory challenges.

And with political advertising expected to reach $9.8 billion this year, according to Borrell Associates, only 1.6% of that is expected to be spent online – this creates another opportunity.

  • Preemption doesn’t exist online, meaning your placements are guaranteed.
  • With the use of behavioral, and advanced, targeting we can ensure your advertising is seen by your target demographic online.
  • And with online sponsorships we believe our clients have a strong opportunity to capture the increased traffic to news and political sections and sites.

Have you prepared your media plan for the November election? If you have questions or would like a recommendation on how to best prepare your plan, please contact Dennis Jenders (djenders@laughlin.com / 414-270-7178) or Kelli Sumwalt (ksumwalt@laughlin.com / 414-270-7241).

Know Your Data: Cookies May Ruin Your Appetite For Marketing

I sat through a great webinar last week put on by Compete. I imagine my reaction was similar to what The West Wing’s CJ Craig must have felt sitting through the Organization of Cartographers for Social Equality presentation. I thought I knew what I was going to see. And then I quickly realized reality looked a lot different than I’d expected.

And it started with two simple data points that weren’t the actual data, but tied directly to it. First, 35% of computers delete cookies. Second, the average number of different cookies for the same campaign among deleters was five.

Are these true of the campaign you’re running? I – obviously – have no idea. The important question is: Do you? Because it could have a huge impact on your metrics.

If you are using cookie-based metrics – and not accounting for how your users account for cookies – you may be greatly overstating your reach, greatly understating your frequency and, if you are conducting a brand study, may be artificially raising your control score.

The implications of any of those misunderstandings can steer you in a different direction. Not understanding cookies – and other variable inputs – can prematurely ruin your appetite for a further investment that might provide a greater return than you realize. It’s not that cookies are bad. Misunderstanding their context is.

The more we become dependent on data to make decisions, the more we must really understand what we do, what we don’t and what we can’t know

Interested in more stuff I find interesting? Follow me @casey_flanagan on Twitter.

PR 2.0: Working with the media

I recently attended a luncheon held by the Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter of PRSA. The event featured a panel discussion with Mark Kass, editor of The Business Journal Serving Greater Milwaukee, Jim Nelson, Politifact editor and deputy business editor for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Steve Jagler, executive editor of BizTimes Milwaukee.

The well-respected trio participated in a great discussion on what lies ahead in 2011, how their respective publications are adjusting in an ever-changing media landscape and how PR professionals can more efficiently work with them.

This post will touch on a few highlights and how PR professionals can stay on the media’s radar.

My guess is the points below will ring true with a lot of you or serve as a reminder on how to conduct media relations 2.0, but it never hurts to have a quick refresher. They don’t cover the entire discussion but cover segments I found particularly interesting. Without further ado:

Embrace online exposure – The hard copies aren’t dead (publishers are nodding vigorously in agreement). But PR folks need to continue to counsel clients that online exposure is just as good as print coverage, if not better. Jim Nelson said the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel gets as many as 2 million hits a day. That’s a big audience. Compare that to the print circulation of 183,636 during the week and 331,171 on Sundays. Between online stories, blogs, e-newsletters and live updates, there are plenty of opportunities to garner publicity.

Think like a reporter, better yet a TV reporter – Think visually and for ways your story can have legs itself. How can you make this story more appealing, even if it isn’t for a TV station? Utilize those Flip cams and iPhones, and edit footage back at the office. Offer the footage to compliment your pitch or news release. Steve Jagler said it a number of times, “We’re a multimedia company now.”

Have a spokesperson ready 24/7 – News moves fast these days. Really fast. The news media world is a competitive business and PR professionals need to be able to act quickly. Have a spokesperson always ready to speak on breaking news. Work with the media. Mark Kass said, “Our story will run whether you comment or not. You have to decide whether you have your say.”

Look for unconventional opportunitiesThe Business Journal of Greater Milwaukee’sForty Under 40” annually honors 40 up-and-comers in the community under 40. It’s a great way to see who the new leaders are in the area. Mark Kass mentioned that they receive close to 300 nominations for the program. Tough odds, to be sure. However, he said they don’t just toss the 260 or so nominees that don’t make the list (yes, I can do basic math). He hands them out to his staff and has them hold onto them for potential profile pieces or to use as experts/sources down the road. Unconventional opportunity but a good one.

Engage social media – All three editors couldn’t stress it enough. It’s happening and it’s here to stay. Get clients involved or be left behind.

So those are just a few of the nuggets I found interesting. Please share ideas and input below.

Let’s Focus Less on Emerging Media and More on Merging Media.

We spend a lot of time talking and thinking about emerging media, when we should be focusing on merging media. Two truths belong at the foundation of your marketing plan: integration is essential and synergy is opportunity. So how do you get there?

Think holistically. Social marketing is no doubt powerful. How do you better ensure its success? The BBC suggests advertising. A recent study gives advertising and marketing credit for stimulating 58% of word-of-mouth. And how do you get people to be an advocate in the first place? An eMarketer article recently reported that 75% of people who have joined a brand’s Facebook Page have done so at the brand’s invitation / advertising. The idea that one media makes another more effective isn’t new. It’s been well-established that Display advertising and Search advertising benefit each other. But new data from comScore shows the same can be said for Social. And the synergies don’t stop there – television ads can help Search advertising.

Don’t oversimplify. Think about component parts. Merging media necessitates understanding both the forest and the trees. Take “digital” for example. Too often it’s thought of as an inclusive line-item. But a brand could choose, among other initiatives, to invest in their website, an email program, a display campaign, a social strategy or mobile. Mobile, then has a number of merging media within it – mobile site, mobile ads, SMS, MMS, apps, etc.

The oft-cited quote from IBM goes like this: “The next five years will hold more change for the advertising agency than the previous 50 did.” A natural conclusion is that this change will be driven by emerging media. And there is truth to that. But I believe merging media will be at the heart of the change. From linking banner ads to Foursquare to Nielsen adding elements like “connection speed” to its TV rating system, brands will succeed by figuring out how to make their channels work together.

Merging Media

As marketers, one of our greatest challenges as of late has been staying aware of and applying the uses of emerging media. Today however, the challenge seems to be staying on top of how media and multimedia platforms are converging and overlapping as a result of the demand put on them by today’s consumers. Our new mountain to climb and where our new focus should lie is to understand the world of merging media.

There are examples of merging media everywhere; IP TV, mobile web, iPad publishing and social search and optimization to name just a few. As a result, there is now more than ever the need to organize and map out an approach, and then determine how to implement it effectively within the structure of our organizations.

My advice for understanding the world of merging media is to start by:

  1. Identifying concentrations of “emerged media” (SEM, social marketing, mobile marketing, etc). How do they frame up?
  2. Work with your team members to come to a unified approach. This is not easy. Take search for example, even within this undeniably well-established space there are vast differences in the language and approach that people grew up practicing.
  3. Identify the strengths among co-workers and implement teams that can assemble quickly and nimbly tackle projects. You will be surprised where this talent will surface. Today’s marketing solutions come in all shapes and sizes so don’t rule out the possibility that you have hidden skill sets in unexpected places.
  4. Get the word out. Distribute roadmaps and get everyone involved and talking in the same language. A consistent voice is essential as clients more and more look to us to simplify and solve today’s unique marketing challenges.

What have you found when evolving from emerging media to concentrating on merging media?

Evolution: The Result Of Being Always On

The concept of our culture being one that is “Always On” isn’t new. It was around long before we consumed 34GB of info a day. It was a household name long before 20% of voicemails went unlistened to. Weʼve just continued down the path at a rather incredible pace.

And in the sea of incredible statistics…

  1. According to Visible Measures, there are four webisode series that have audiences of over 20 million
  2. Nielsenʼs Three Screen Report found that time-shifted TV watching is up 14.7%… from last year
  3. 65% more American cell phone owners access the internet from their cell phone this year compared to last

…we lose track of the incredible-ness. There are now (4.) 500 million Facebook users? Yawn.

But we can’t lose track. Changes are still afoot. So much so that I propose that “Always On” will no longer suffice. In that Darwinian way our species has always depended on, weʼve evolved. We are smarter. Faster. More powerful. Consumers have fought back.

Our world can now best described as Always On… Demand.

Always On is still mass. Always On Demand is niche. Always On means constantly searching. Always On Demand means taking control.

Control is the new luxury. Being savvy has badge value. I want what I want, when I want it, where I want it.

Those are important distinction for marketers. Communications have to evolve too.