Comparing Apples to Apples: How Universal Formulas are Central to Media Link Software®
When considering a media buy, it can be difficult to organize and compare pricing. From differences in each media platform to differences between vendors, finding a common ground to compare each piece of information is often the most difficult part. Universal formulas are exactly what they sound like, formulas which should be used by the entire media buying industry to make it easy to compare information side-by-side. When considering multiple media buys it is important to be able to make a comparison across all platforms. Our Media Link Software® (MLS) is uniquely designed to help you see all of your options equally to help you make better and more informed decisions for your business.
The first piece to consider when considering a media buy over multiple platforms is to define your universe. This is the scope of people you want to reach and who it is possible for you to reach. It specifies the space in which you are looking to advertise within. This could be everyone within a certain mile radius, everyone within a specific county, or individuals in a given city, etc. By defining your universe, you lock in a metric to better compare your buys across different formulas like Cost Per Thousand, Cost Per Point, Impressions, Reach, Frequency, and more. With your universe defined, you can then begin to analyze your buys through different formulas calculated with the help of Media Link Software.
It is important to remember each platform measures your universe differently. TV stations use Dominant Market Area (DMA), which usually includes a wide reach of the counties surrounding where the signal is located. Cable uses Cable Zones based on a specific city and its surrounding counties. Cable allows you to focus on a smaller footprint rather than working inside an entire DMA which allows you to target customers in your own backyard. Radio’s signal width is determined by the height of a given station’s radio tower. The area these towers reach is called their Total Survey Area (TSA) which looks similar to DMA but is different because not as many counties can be reached with an FM signal. These measurements allow you to better understand how many people you can advertise to within your universe based on each platform’s reach and the frequency of your ad.
Broadcast uses Cost Per Point (CPP), or how much it would cost to reach a certain percentage of the population. A station’s rating is vitally important to their reach as it determines the percentage of the population who listens to or watches their programming. CPP breaks down the cost of your ad over the percentage of the audience who will see or hear it. A broadcaster will also provide you with a schedule for your ad, how many times it will play over a certain period of time, and its frequency. This will directly influence the number of impressions your ad will receive.
Publications uses circulation. A circulation is directly related to a publication’s number of impressions, the more households who subscribe to a publication means the more impressions your ad will receive. When considering a publication buy, remember there are different kinds of publications to consider. Paid circulations are only received by individuals who subscribe to them, like magazines and newspapers. Unsolicited circulations are publications sent out to a number of households the publication decides to mail their publication. This can be coupon books and other items people might consider to be “junk mail.” Rack circulations are publications distributed to different locations within your community like restaurants, doctors’ offices, hotels, and other businesses. When considering one of these buys, remember to consider the difference between sending a circulation to someone who is paying for it versus sending a circulation to someone who did not ask for it. Calculating the percentage of people who will keep or pick up a circulation they did not subscribe to receive is an important part of considering a publication buy.
Outdoor advertising also comes with its own set of numerical values pertinent to considering a media buy. Outdoor takes into consideration both Daily Effective Count (DEC) and Traffic Count (TC), both are provided by the Department of Transportation. DEC is the number of cars that travel past any particular location in one direction, crucial information if you are considering purchasing a billboard space. TC is the number of cars on a given day that pass a certain location in any direction. It’s important to remember these impressions are presented as daily rather than monthly like other platforms. In order to have an accurate comparison you must multiply by 30. These impressions are also based on a traffic pattern people may follow as a part of their daily routine or commute. This will give your ad more frequency over new impressions.
Cost Per Thousand (CPM) is the only formula which crosses all platforms: outdoor, digital, publications, and broadcast. This formula answers the question of how much it would cost to reach every thousand people. You will also notice each platform will have information regarding the number of impressions your ad will receive. Some vendors will provide this information, but it may only be for a specific demographic, or it may include their entire audience; an important distinction to make in reaching your target market and in comparing media buys.
As you can imagine, there are a lot of pieces to keep track of on your own, Media Link Software® can help. Our easy-to-use software will help you input all of the pertinent information for each buy you are considering from CPP, Circulations, DEC, DMA, TSA, and all the rest of the alphabet, in order to simplify the comparison process. Once you have gathered all of this information, MLS will help you to compare apples to apples to make the best and most cost-effective media buys for your business.