The Media
Marathon

Man wearing red shirt with a marthon number on. He's smiling. This is the header image of a stick article about media.
Man wearing red shirt with a marthon number on. He's smiling. This is the header image of a stick article about media.

Starting and finishing a race is a thrilling experience, but perhaps, training for that race is even more thrilling. The process of building your strength and base, setting your pacing goals, and finally running the race pushes the limits of your body. As I prepared for the start of the new running season this fall, I noticed that this base, pace, race mentality applies to another facet of my life—media planning and buying.

Beyond crunching numbers and picking billboards, the methods behind media are often little understood. But like running, it’s all about strategy, optimization, and moving toward the best results.

Base

“As much as I hate the process, good ideas with great execution are how you make magic.” – Larry Page (Google Co-Founder and Alphabet CEO and) via CNBC

When it comes to running, you only reach those badass, magical times when you put in the work to build your base. For me, it took a couple of years to find my running groove. The base of running a media campaign is planning and understanding how you take your strategy to market. You identify your primary purpose (sales, response, sign-ups, or awareness) and then build out your ideal approach from start to needle-moving finish. That process includes determining channels or roads and setting parameters with specific targeting.

Base is all about foundations, and with foundations come strength. But, when it comes to marathons and media, the most important part is learning how to manage your energy (or money) and avoid burning out too early. 

Pace

“With social media in particular, ad campaigns are even more challenging because consumer behavior is erratic. People don’t engage or act consistently from day to day or week to week to make sure advertisers can spend budgets evenly throughout campaigns.” – Katie Dettman O’Brien via AdWeek

If you are in media buying, reading O’Brien’s article is a relapse into the daily grind that is analyzing spending trends. Your goal often remains the same, but the path to the finish line takes some hairpin turns. It’s never a straight line, but a solid base can help you make some important judgment calls on what data is valuable and actionable for your client. In 2015, recode touched on this issue, stating that the secret is not “big” data, but “right” data.

Pacing is all about projecting and proving your ROI or ROAS to make the difference on results. This could either be making sure you meet deliverable impressions if you’re focused on CPM (cost per thousand impressions) or event response for a boosted social media event post. Once the plan is set, boom—the guns go off and it’s racing time.

Race

Believe it or not, unless it’s your first, running a race is actually anticlimactic—it’s about continuing the process of learning, refining, repeating. You’re not going to start and finish a race or campaign the same person, and that’s a good thing. The crucial part is understanding what changed between start and finish. This requires gathering results by campaign, sales, and what’s been happening within the industry.

Imagine you ran a race but had no clue how others finished. Just like running, it’s important for campaigns to learn from others’ experiences, too. To break this down, there are three filters to review your campaign through: your own data (how your effort turned out), the client’s historic results in sales, leads, or conversions, and the industry as a whole (tourism, automotive, or etc.).

And We’re Off!

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the details that go into running a media campaign. But if you build the base with an identified process and pace your results, you’ll be ready to run the race with peace of mind. Remember, it’s like running a marathon: breaking down every mile to finish on top.

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