What is a media plan? Definition, technique, examples

Any successful communication requires an impeccable organization, allowing you to follow the different campaigns launched as well as to have a more global vision of your strategy. This is where the media plan becomes handy: it allows you to accomplish all these actions! But first, you need to know where to start. And for that, we have decoded the essential steps to build the media plan that will meet all your expectations.

Table of contents - article "What is a media plan?"

  1. Definition of a media plan
  2. What is a media plan’s purpose?
  3. How to make a good media plan?
  4. What are the objectives?
  5. What are the tools to build your media planner? 
  6. Good examples of media plans  

Definition of a media plan  

The media plan, also known as “media planner”, is the document that gives life to your communication strategy on the different media, whether they are online or offline. Ideally presented in an Excel spreadsheet or a calendar, the media planner lists all the communication campaigns that a company intends to undertake over a given period, on all the media it considers to be suitable (television, radio, posters, social medias, etc.).

What is a media plan’s purpose? 

Carried out with the intention of introducing a brand to the public, improving a company’s image, or promoting a product, the media plan guarantees cohesion in the company’s general communication. It also makes sure that the advertisements set up are suitable for the target, in order to better reach it.

Before launching headlong into the implementation of a media plan, it is necessary to clearly define some objectives and targets. Some simple but very concrete questions can help you to do this:

  • What is your objective?
  • What problem(s) do you need to solve?
  • Who are your ads for? 
  • Which media should you use to reach your target?
  • What is your budget? How much money are you willing to spend to reach your goal?
  • Etc. 

One may say that “you need to be SMART about your media plan”. For this reason, it is wise if your media plan is :

  • Specific: clearly define your strategy beforehand;
  • Measurable: you must be able to follow the evolution of your plan and quantify the results in order to see if you have reached your objective;
  • Achievable: your media planning must take into account the means at your disposal to carry out your project;
  • Realistic: take the time to analyze the relevance of your plan while keeping in mind your company's situation; 
  • Time-based: set time limits for your media plan so as not to exhaust unnecessarily your budget and your time.  

Don't try to reach for the stars by being too ambitious, your goal must be realistic and accessible to reach your means. The more concrete your objective is, the more you will be able to evaluate over time your media plan degree of success.

How to make a good media plan? 

A good media plan is a tool that must be well-thought-out before putting it in place. To do so, you just have to systematically follow the 5 key steps to define a clear and coherent media planner that meets your expectations.

Step 1 - The media brief 

In a way, the media brief is the embryo of your media plan, it contains the whole matrix, all the information allowing you to build it. This is when you need to use the SMART approach, in order to leave nothing to chance and list all the relevant information that you must constantly keep in mind while building the media plan.

The reach must contain:

  • Title and description
  • Context of realization
  • Goals
  • Target audience
  • Promise 
  • The tone of the speech 
  • Restrictions 
  • Budget

Title and description

A perfect project needs a name, right? Assigning a title and a short description to your project allows your team to better visualize it and be on the same page.

Context of the project

Before rushing into the media plan, it is important to understand the situation in which you want to establish your planner

  • How long has your brand been around? 
  • How is your notoriety? 
  • What are your customers' opinions? 
  • How is your turnover evolving? 
  • What strategies have you followed in the past? What were the results?

These questions will help you to clearly define the stakes of your media planning.


This is where the heart of your strategy lies. Why do you want to launch your advertising campaigns? What do you want to get out of them? Make sure that the stakes are quantifiable so that you can visualize its success (example: increase your customers by 25%).

Target audience

Your strategy will only meet your expectations if it gets visibility from the audience you are targeting with your advertising campaigns. Get as much information as possible about your customers to create your persona, the targeted profile towards which you should aim your message:

  • age
  • gender
  • level of education
  • social and professional profile
  • income
  • geolocation
  • family situation
  • personality
  • values
  • interests
  • desires
  • needs
  • technology used

Nothing is stopping you from creating several personas, samples of your different customer profiles, or the new targets you intend to reach. However, it is appropriate to concentrate your efforts on 3 or 4 personas in order to deliver a coherent message that will better target your prospects.

We can't stress enough the value of building personas, they are the foundation of the whole process.


Once your target audience is well-defined, you have to identify the message you want to convey, the strong idea that your target must remember from your communication campaigns. When developing this message, it is wise to keep in mind the context of reception by your target and to anticipate its perception of the message. Car businesses have understood this well, with their advertising spots that guarantee the consumer a reliable or safe vehicle that will meet all their expectations if they purchase it.

The tone of the speech 

A reflection on the tone used in your message is essential for it to be correctly conveyed and understood by your target. You are communicating with them, you might as well do it correctly: use a tone and expressions that speak to your target audience, that can resonate within them. 


Time, budget, human… Restrictions can be of all kinds and can act as obstacles in the highway that is your project. To avoid them bothering you, anticipate them and make a list of all the problems you might encounter. Who talked about problems? We only have solutions!


It is very easy to overspend. And in the world of communication, it can be a risky bet if you don't get the results you want. Your budget should be as high as your ambitions, but definitely not higher.

A limited budget may seem like a brake on the options you can afford, but you should not envision it as one. In fact, having a precise or even limited budget can allow you to push you to widen your strategic view and consider more creative, more impactful solutions. Moreover, you can focus your resources on campaigns that are more likely to bear fruits and to spend more time on them. 

Step 2 - Above-the-line (ATL) / Below the line (BTL) choice 

Once you have finished your brief, it is time to decide on the appropriate mediums for your campaigns. There are several factors to consider when making this choice, from which your entire media plan will flow. And this is where your media brief is useful, because yes, it contains all the information you need:

  • the definition of your target ; 
  • the objective ; 
  • the geolocation of your campaign; 
  • and the budget allocated to your project.

Depending on these 4 dimensions, you can choose to launch a campaign that will only be distributed on television or also declined online. For example, it is not relevant for a local craftsman to launch a nationwide campaign on television if the customers they are targeting are located around their town. Promotion in the local press or a local poster campaign seems to be more appropriate.

Step 3 - Media strategy 

You now know your objective, your targets, the message you want to get across, the means of campaigns, all that is left to do is to find out when to them, as well how long they should last. Communication is by all means about timing! A chocolate company makes considerable gains by promoting its products a few days or weeks before Valentine's Day, just like a sports brand during the Olympics. Therefore, it is in your best interest to make a list of “evergreen content” or events that come up every year to seize the best opportunities to talk about your brand.

  • Your communication strategy must also take into account your budget: 
  • with a large budget, you can deploy your strategy throughout the year while having additional campaigns in periods of high stakes for you;
  • with a tight budget, it is wise to focus on the key dates of the year while limiting the number of media used;
  • with a very tight budget, focus on the first semester’s key dates and select the media that will best drive your objective (if your campaign is successful, you can always repeat it in the second half of the year).

Étape 4- le support planning/calendrier 

Being able to find your way in the countless communication campaigns that you are going to launch as well as on their period of diffusion, demands to stay organized with you media plan.

For everything to remain in order, your media plan can take the form of a publication calendar that summarizes all the important information concerning your advertising campaigns: title, subject, objective, media, publication date, length, the person in charge, and other comments.

You can add a Gantt chart to it. This tool allows you to visualize the different tasks or campaigns to be carried out, as well as the time period allocated to them. In general, the left-hand column lists the campaigns that are currently being launched or that will be launched in the future, while the first row allows you to visualize the time units (months, weeks, days). And you don't need sophisticated software to do it, a simple Excel spreadsheet is enough (you just have to color the boxes).

Step 5- Monitoring and adaptability

The media plan is not a static object, but a calendar that must evolve with time. It must be flexible and adaptable to unforeseen events or to meet your new expectations and improvements.

In order to improve your future advertising campaigns in your media planner, it is fundamental to follow up on previously broadcasted communications and to analyze the results: to understand what worked or the mistakes not to be made anymore. Make this evaluation on media at a time, to better understand their different functions: an ad can work on television, while its declination on social media would need optimizations to be more effective. You will then be able to focus on the media that suits your campaign best.

>>> See how to track the performance of a TV ad

>>> See how to measure the efficiency of a display advertising campaign 

What are the goals?

Your media plan can have several goals :

  • To communicate on a launch (product, brand, etc.)
  • To publicize a product or brand launch
  • To increase brand awareness
  • To build the image of the brand
  • To increase traffic in store/showroom/open house day...

All intentions are legitimate to build your media plan. The main idea is to have a clear picture of what you expect from your media planner. The goal you set is your compass: it will allow you to keep your bearings when building your media plan and to maintain coherence in all the advertising campaigns you will build.

What are the tools to build your media planner? 

Many tools can help you prioritize your advertising campaigns:

  • build a provisional schedule on Excel ;
  • use a marketing calendar/evergreen content calendar to identify the highlights;

Before you even start your media planning designing process, you can take a look at some studies carried out by different organizations to help you better define your target, such as :

  • the studies conducted by France PUB on the evolution of the advertising market;
  • the results of the One Next audience study.

And to understand your audience even better, you have the possibility of carrying out an ad hoc study that allows you to analyze consumer behavior.

Good examples of media plans 

Your company is unique, so will be your media plan. That doesn't mean you can't take a look at our two media plans examples to help you build yours.

Exemple de plan média

Exemple de média planning

Each advertisement gives an answer to a specific need of your company, here is an example of how the media mechanics work.

Mécanique média

Throughout the day, an individual crosses path with different types of media content. It is wise to multiply contact your target audience and your advertisement.

Exemple de media journey

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