Deciding on Media timing and allocation

In choosing media, the advertiser faces both a macro-scheduling and micro-scheduling problem. The macro-scheduling problem involves scheduling the advertising in relation to seasons and the business cycle. Suppose 70% of a product’s sales occur between June and September. The firm can vary its advertising expenditures to follow the seasonal pattern, to oppose the seasonal pattern, or to be constant throughout the year.

The micro-scheduling problem calls for allocating advertising expenditures within a short period to obtain maximum impact. Suppose the firm decides to buy 30 radio spots in the month of September. The left side shows that advertising messages for the month can be concentrated (“burst” advertising), dispersed continuously throughout the month, or dispersed intermittently. The top side shows that the advertising messages can be beamed with a level, rising falling or alternating frequency.

The most effective pattern depends on the communications objectives in relation to the nature of the product, target customers, distribution channels, and other marketing factors. The timing pattern should consider three factors. Buyer turnover expresses the rate at which new buyers enter the market; the higher this rate, the more continuous the advertising should be. Purchase frequency is the number of times during the period that the average buyer buys the product; the higher the purchase frequency, the more continuous the advertising should be. The forgetting rate is the rate at which the buyer forgets the brand; the higher the forgetting rate, the more continuous the advertising should be.

In launching a new product, the advertiser has to choose among continuity, concentration, flighting and pulsing.

* Continuity is achieved by scheduling exposures evenly throughout a given period. Generally, advertisers use continuous advertising in expanding market situations, with frequently purchased items and in tightly defined buyer categories.

* Concentration calls for spending all the advertising dollars in a single period. This makes sense for products with one selling season or holiday.

* Flighting calls for advertising for a period, followed by a period with no advertising, followed by a second period of advertising activity. It is used when funding is limited, the purchase cycle is relatively infrequent, and with seasonal items.

* Pulsing is continuous advertising at low-weights levels reinforced periodically by waves of heavier activity. Pulsing draws on the strength of continuous advertising and flights to create a compromise scheduling strategy. Those who favor pulsing believe that the audience will learn the message more thoroughly, and money can be saved.

A company has to decide how to allocate its advertising budget over space as well as over time. The company makes “national buys” when it places ads on national TV network or in nationally circulated magazines. It makes “spot buys” when it buys TV time in just a few markets or in regional editions of magazines. These markets are called areas of dominant influences (ADIs) or designated marketing areas (DMAs). Ads reach a market 40 to 60 miles from a city center. The company makes “local buys’ when it advertises in local newspapers, radio, or outdoor sites.