6 steps to save 31% of your advertising budget

If you spend $1 million on advertising each year, please don’t throw $310,000 out the window. Here’s a case study to show you how to stop wasting media dollars. Follow this path, your boss will think you’re a genius, and you will get more customers. It works for local, regional, and national advertising campaigns.

The map above shows a 25-minute drive-time zone around a retail location in Burbank, California. This is a basic estimate of how far people will drive, in a major urban setting, to get to a store. Now, let’s say this retailer was considering a promotion on cable TV. Here’s how the cable zones would overlay that driving footprint:

You can visually see the waste. Anything outside the yellow line is advertising spent on customers who won’t drive near your store. But how do you actually remove the waste? Take 6 simple steps.

1. List the ZIP Codes within each cable area, and the corresponding number of households
2. List the ZIP Codes only within the drive zone, and the households
3. Match the ZIPs
4. Create a business rule for how much waste you will tolerate — for example, any cable zone with fewer than 50% of households in the drive zone gets removed
5. Kill the cable zones in your media plan that fall below this threshold
6. Count up the before and after households, and you’ll see the savings.

Without this analysis, here is what a cable buy in the Burbank, Calif. area would look like. Mediassociates found that an untargeted buy from an inept media planner would spray 6.3 million households with cable ads, yet only 3.8 million of these homes would be in the driving range of the store — for 38.92% waste:

With a drive-time analysis, the cable buy would look like this: A targeted flight reaching 3.2 million households, of which 3.0 million are in driving range, for only 7.66% media waste. Cable zones highlighted in gray were removed from the media plan.

The lesson learned: If you have regional territories or retail locations, plot your media carefully. Doing so can save you 31% or more of your advertising budget. Without this media planning analysis, you might as well take one-third of your ad dollars and throw them in the trash.

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