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POV - Strategic Media Planning: Addressing Misconceptions and Highlighting Best Practices for Successful Engagement in Pharma Marketing


Beth Barron
EVP, Managing Director

Melissa Barnhart
SVP, Media and Advanced Customer Engagements

Kelly Morrison
VP, Media


This POV will address common misconceptions in media planning and show how a strategic approach can make media planning one of the most important tools in marketing.

Misconception: the central focus of media planning needs to be the media itself.
It’s not about the media. It’s not even about the message. It’s about the audience. It’s worth repeating:
focus on the audience. That new social site or TV show may be the hot new thing, but if your particular
audience isn’t into it, you’ve wasted your money. Don’t look to the shiny new thing, look to what your
audience actually uses. The importance of what we can learn from audience insights and behaviors impacts
how we invest and measure, and that’s what returns real results. We invest heavily in researching our
clients’ key audiences so that we know what moves them and we have the data to prove it.

Misconception: the media planning team should be brought in at the end, after ads have been created.
Historically media is an after-thought, and many still approach planning as purely executional. But those
who view it this way really miss out on significant benefits that come from including media early. As noted
above, strategic media planning has such a strong focus on the audience that the planning team
involvement should begin at the kickoff of the campaign and include a look at audience behaviors,
influencing creative messaging from the beginning. We have a client who uses the phrase “Words and
Music” to describe how creative and media need to work together to deliver relevant messages in the
optimal channel for each customer segment.

Misconception: Print is dead, don’t bother.
Just as dangerous as focusing only on the shiny new thing is ignoring the tried and true. Perhaps you
haven’t picked up a newspaper in five years, but that doesn’t mean your key audience feels the same way –
they may look forward to their daily paper.

The best and most effective media plans are channel neutral – focusing on the audience and what moves
them, no matter how old fashioned. For example, we know from our Media Vitals™ research on prescriber
preferences that 70% of physicians read professional print journals daily. If we chose to believe that older
mediums aren’t relevant, we’d miss out on a key opportunity. Consider the excellent observation by
Clayton Christensen on “milkshake marketing.” Christensen was hired to help a fast food chain sell
milkshakes. They noticed that people were buying milkshakes at 8 am – why? It was because they’re
filling, easy to buy and portable, which really appealed to commuters. In other words: they did the job. This
correlates to media in that you have to find the right medium for the job you have – hire mobile for some
jobs, direct mail for others, journals for others – but like a milkshake, you need to mix it up with omnichannel
planning. No one channel lives in isolation, they are all interconnected.

Misconception: always aim for the least-expensive CPM.
Cost does not directly equate to quality. Sometimes a less-costly broad reach campaign is the best option.
However, particularly today where hyper-targeting is possible, it is absolutely worth it to spend more for the
eyeballs that you want than less for those you may not. It’s about quality and not volume. Be willing to pay
more for verified, qualified ways to reach your audience.

Misconception: there’s no way to measure every aspect of a campaign. So just set it up and check in once the campaign is done.
Not only is this simply untrue, as current technology allows us to measure everything – even print –there’s
a huge benefit to continual measurement. Never “set it and forget it.” Start measurement in the beginning
of the campaign and measure as often as possible in order to ensure the plan is working, and to give you
the opportunity to pivot when needed. Measurement helps you ensure that every dollar is accountable. In
fact, it is because of the power of measurement today that we are able to incorporate machine learning
and real-time optimization into our media plans.
It’s like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” story – when the audience is moved by one tactic versus another,
we’re able to guide them down a media path driven by their preferences and actions that leads them to our
clients’ brands.

Misconception: publishers can dictate which data they choose to share with advertisers.
Transparency and viewability are two words you’ll hear often in the halls here because our standards have
been longstanding and higher than industry requirements. This is largely because of the sensitivity that
comes with working in pharma, but it’s also because we are dedicated to providing a better experience for
our clients, which we’re able to achieve via our relationships with our suppliers. Our business is built on
relationships. Our partnerships with leading suppliers in our space allow us to better share data with those
suppliers, which means we have a direct window into where our clients’ ads are running, who is seeing
them and whether they’re engaging. That equals brand safety and better results. When our publishers
share the data that we need, we all benefit.

Misconception: Media planning is mostly executional. Changes in technology don’t affect it much.
Our proprietary technology has helped us to move the needle for the nation’s game changers in pharma:

• ByDoctor® suite of services – a sophisticated predictive database that enables CMI media teams to
anticipate the most efficient and effective ways to reach their target audiences. Over 1.3 million
healthcare professionals are included, with views into all physician specialties, nurse practitioners,
physician assistants, RNs, pharmacists, medical students, and other prescribers.
• Programmatic – AdMission™ – delivers highly relevant ad content to only those on a clients’ target list
when they arrive on publisher sites across both healthcare and consumer web properties, including
websites and mobile apps. AdMission™ solves the current challenges of targeting HCPs online and
increases the efficiency and accountability of your campaign by eliminating wasted spend, providing full
transparency, and enhancing ad verification by verifying every ad has reached its intended target.
• Machine learning – Solomon™ – this award-winning tool aids in the non-personal promotion planning
process to right-size and efficiently spend brands’ investment, as well as to set specific exposure,
awareness, ROI, and revenue-based goals.
• Drive™ – works across your owned, earned and paid media to ensure your target audience is accessing
accurate information as efficiently as possible, giving your brand more control and influence over
prescription decisions.
• Marketing Automation Platform – a platform that allows for multi-channel orchestration of triggers
providing targets with the appropriate message via their channel affinity and moves them along the
message journey.


For more information, please contact your CMI/Compas lead.