2021 Media Planning: Tips and Trends

30_3271_med2By Simone Corpora, Media Buyer

Much like Christmas decorations arriving in August at your local Marshall’s Home Goods, we like to annoy our clients and start piping up about annual media planning well before the new year starts. While it might seem obnoxious—I mean, even I get annoyed when I hear Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” on October 1—there are some serious advantages to planning your media buys early.

Here are some of the best reasons to begin your annual media planning sooner rather than later:

  • Lock in your rates. There’s a reason that many of my clients haven’t seen a rate increase in the last four or five years, and that reason is booking well in advance. It benefits the media salesperson to have annual buys locked in early, so they’re motivated to give you great deals early on. Not to mention new rate cards for the upcoming year aren’t usually out until Q4, so you’re ahead of any standardized increases when you book early.
  • Secure premium placement and added value. In a similar fashion, if you’re planning early, ad space inventory is readily available. This gives you the best opportunity for premium placements and added value.
  • First in, last out. In the world of broadcast media, you might have heard the adage “first in, last out.” Your spots may receive a higher priority status, helping to avoid any preempts if you’re booking early as opposed to booking last minute.

We also like to make sure our clients are on the cutting edge of any emerging media trends. So, when we start planning early, we have plenty of time to dive deep into new opportunities and educate our clients about the benefits or pitfalls of the latest advertising developments. Here are the top trends we have our eye on for 2021:

  • COVID-19’s impact on media mix. “Unprecedented” is the 2020 buzzword that won’t go away. But it is the perfect word to describe the impact that COVID-19 had on media consumption this year. It not only increased total U.S. users’ time spent with media, it also seems to have sped up the increases in digital streaming media consumption we’ve seen over the past few years, and that will have a lasting impact as we move into 2021.
  • Changes to Google’s algorithms. Of course, this isn’t a once-a-year endeavor. Google is constantly changing their algorithms. But, a recent change to Google Ads that will be impactful for 2021 is the change to Google Search Terms reporting. In short, if there’s not “significant” data (read: more than one search for a particular keyword), a term may not show up in the search terms report. This will impact the way media buyers manage their negative keyword lists for clients.
  • OTT and CTV. No, it’s not the newest (we’ve been talking about it for ages!), but over-the-top TV and connected TV advertising opportunities are ever-growing and changing, and definitely something to consider for your 2021 media mix. Average time spent for Adults 18+ in Q4 2019 was up 16% as compared to the prior year according to the Nielsen Total Audience Report (April 2020), and we anticipate that we’ll see increases in upcoming reports that include data from Q1 2020.
  • Streaming Audio and Podcast advertising. Podcast listenership continues to climb, as does streaming audio listenership overall. A digital audio media buy would be a wise supplement to any terrestrial broadcast radio buys, especially after commutes have been reduced due to COVID-19.

Of course, the beauty of marketing in general is that it’s an art and a science, so the most important thing to remember going into 2021 is to consistently monitor your campaigns and pivot when necessary. If COVID-19 taught us anything, it’s the value of flexibility. The best laid plans leave room for adjustments and optimization as you move through executions. Our media clients benefit from the advantages of planning ahead while maintaining flexibility. If that sounds like something your business could use help with, let us know.