What Mad Men Says About Advertising Media Planning

by James on September 4, 2008

I enjoy Mad Men, the TV show about an ad agency in the 60s. I don’t enjoy it because it’s an accurate representation of advertising in the time period, it’s not, and no I wasn’t working then. I enjoy it because of the sometimes harsh light it shines on contemporary attitudes. Have we really progressed since the 1960s?

This got me thinking.  Why do we still use a media planning model developed in the 50s and 60s?  We have a task and a budget. We identify a target in demographic terms, and develop a media plan designed to reach a significant percentage of the target a specific number of times. (Keep in mind that the reporting methodology this is based on is horribly flawed, which everyone knows, but it’s equally flawed for all.)  The plan starts, it ends, it’s assessed, and we move on to the next task.  If you think about it, we are still using essentially the same model today as was used back then.  Nothing much has changed in media planning for 50 years or more.

Meanwhile consumers interests and needs ebb and flow as it suits them.  It is estimated that only 15% to 20% of consumers are in the market for a car at any given time.  And only 1 out of 3 of consumers buy new cars.  So, a media plan designed to deliver a retail a new car offer is, at best, speaking to 4.5% to 6% of consumer. When you factor in model interest it’s even lower. Does this make senses to anyone?

I’m working on a new model, which should be through testing and ready for prime time early in ’09. It’s just for online media right now but has the potential to extend into broadcast as well.  If there is a new model being used or developed elsewhere I would like to hear about it.

Hip Shot

  • Ask your agency about their media planning model.  Not as much fun as talking to the creative staff but here’s a news flash for you, most of your ad budget is spent on media not creative.  Are they exploring new technology to try and address this issue?  Are they doing anything innovative to get the right message to the right consumer at the right time?

Photo credit: AMC TV

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Betsy September 4, 2008 at 5:09 pm

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