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Advertising Media Plan

Provides sources of information about advertising media planning

Getting Started

Background Information

Advertising trade magazines are available on the Web, in the Libraries, and more fully and historically (back to the mid 1980's) in the business periodicals database Business Source Premier.  Trade publications are often used for information regarding competitors and industry developments. Examples include:

Databases & Articles

Find more company/industry information:

Books (print and electronic)


Audience (Media targets) 

Audience is the equivalent of circulation when talking about broadcast media. Audience size varies throughout the day as people tune in and tune out. Therefore, the price for advertising at different times of day will vary, based on the audience size that the day-part delivers.

CPM (Cost per thousand)

CPM analysis is the method media buyers use to convert various rate and circulation options to relative terms. CPM represents the cost of reaching one thousand people via different types of media. To calculate CPM, find the cost for an ad, then divide it by the total circulation the ad reaches (in thousands). Finding this information and calculating this cost for each option provides a numerical ranking for comparison. CPM is a basic media concept.

CPP (Cost Per Person)

Commonly referred to as CPP, this describes the relationship between the cost of a television commercial and the estimated number of people or households who view it.

Circulation (How far the publication is reaching)

Print advertising prices are based on the circulation of the publication in question. Publications will quote an advertiser a circulation figure based on paid subscribers. The audited circulation figures are verified by monitoring organizations. The publications will try to convince the advertiser that actual circulation is higher by including the free copies they distribute and the pass-along readership they claim. Sometimes these claims of "bonus" circulation are valid—for example, magazines distributed on airlines get at least eight readers per copy. Still, advertisers should be wary of inflated circulation figures.

DMA (Designated Market Areas)

A DMA is a geographic area used by the Nielsen Station Index in measuring audience size. DMAs are non-overlapping areas consisting of groups of counties from which stations attract their viewers.

Penetration (How much of the total available market the advertiser is reaching)

Penetration is related to circulation. If a town has a demographic count of 200,000 households, and an advertiser buys an ad in a coupon book that states a circulation of 140,000, the advertiser is reaching 70% of the possible market—high penetration. If, instead, the advertiser bought an ad in the city magazine, which goes to only 17,000 subscribers (households), penetration would be much less—8.5%. The degree of penetration necessary for the advertiser depends on whether their strategy is to dominate the market or to reach a certain niche within that market.

Reach & Frequency (Reach is the total number of people exposed to a message at least once in a set time period, usually four weeks) (Frequency is the average number of times those people are exposed during that time period)

Reach and frequency are key media terms used more in broadcast than in print. ("Reach" is the broadcast equivalent of circulation, for print advertising.) To make reach go up, an advertiser buys a wider market area. To make frequency go up, an advertiser buys more ads during the time period. Usually, when reach goes up, an advertiser has to compromise and let frequency go down. Advertisers could spend a lot of money trying to achieve a high reach and a high frequency. The creative part of media planning comes in balancing reach, frequency, and budget constraints to find the best combination in view of the advertiser's marketing goals.