Media Planning and Buying

About three years back, my manager asked me to make a PPT on media planning & buying business that could be later used as a standard template to educate the interns and new employees. As what has become an instinctive response over the years, I went online and started googling various keywords related to media buying. Much to my annoyance, there wasn’t even one web resource that I could refer to or rely completely upon. It even got worse when I dropped into a big bookstore only to find myself grappling with a handful of books on media planning & buying written by foreign authors. I don’t mean disrespect but an industry that lends itself highly to the context, books by foreign authors would be deemed passable at best and irrelevant at worst. Clearly, there is a big void in this domain of literature. I can only imagine the plight of students who have to make-do without a single exhaustive text-book on media buying and planning business….until now.

Arpita Menon’s Media Planning and Buying is a comprehensive text book – the real McCoy if I may exaggerate. A perusal of the ‘contents’ table tells you that author has covered the whole nine yards while researching her book. The book has 14 chapters and each one exhaustively deals with some or other facet of media business.

While media planning and buying remains the central theme of the book, author’s focus seems slightly tilted more towards TV than print and other media. And, there is a justifiable reason for that, too. TV planning and buying, arguably, is a more esoteric territory as it entails a much greater deal of scientific analyses (and that’s how, a larger chunk of jargon) than other media. Her inclination towards TV notwithstanding, Arpita Menon devotes adequate space to planning and buying aspects of print, radio, and outdoor media, too.

Book kicks off with the evolution of media business over the years. Author recounts the 80s era when print and Doordarshan used to dominate the media landscape. She then hurtles to the present day scene where planning-buying consolidation and 360 degree communication rule the roost. Arpita also demystifies the ticklish jargon that has always flummoxed newbies and seasoned professionals alike. So, in case you always come up with a poker face when confronted with such lingo as Reach, GRPs, AOTS or if you have difficulty in expanding the definition of SEC to beyond Securities Exchange Commission then first four chapters could be of immense importance to you.

Going forward, you have the author sorting out the conundrum of market prioritization as she discusses various parameters such as market growth, market share, competition, category and brand development indices that are often used to prioritize markets. Subsequently, you get to learn how to set media weights. Author explains various methods used to set media weights: SOV-SOM (Share of voice and Share of market) method, Effective Frequency and Effective Reach (EFER) method, task-based media weights method and Econometric modelling method. Author has intensively covered the all important tasks of building a media plan and evaluating media buys in two separate chapters. I believe these two chapters form the core of the book as author painstakingly pitches into the nitty-gritty of TV, Print, Radio, Cinema, Outdoor and Internet planning. Anyone who’s hankering for whetting his planning and buying knowledge will not have to look beyond these two chapters. ‘Setting media budgets’ is another must-read chapter in the book as it discusses the widely used methods to ascertain budgets. So you have Inflation-adjusted method, SOV-SOM method, Advertising-Sales ratio method, EFER method, ROI-based method, and so forth.

Barring the last chapter on ‘Solutions approach’ which I think was shoehorned into the book, each chapter has its own significance. And, this is where ‘Media Planning and Buying’ scores highly – it allows the reader to pick and choose the topics according to his/her preference or level of awareness. You don’t necessarily have to go through the content strictly in order to connect the dots.

Since the book thoroughly covers the whole gamut of media business, it doesn’t matter which side of the trade you are on – media agency or print/TV partner – this book will add loads to your existing knowledge. I won’t be surprised if this book becomes a staple course book in most schools where they teach media. So far, such institutions have relied heavily on the inputs of visiting faculty without having a course-ware to follow back on. Further, it will find easy acceptance among media agency folks, but this book’s sure to be lapped up by those who work with the broadcasters and lock horns with media planners and buyers on routine basis. Finally, Arpita Menon’s ‘Media Planning and Buying’ is an indispensable read for anyone who seeks a career in media and if I may exaggerate again, it’s the holy grail of media literature. Recommended reading!