What’s the Deal with Cookies?

There has been so much coverage over this past year surrounding the death of 3rd party cookies, and although the “end date” keeps getting pushed further and further out (we are now looking at some time in 2023), the topic keeps cropping up.  Even with all of the coverage, it’s still hard to follow exactly what the issue is or what effect this change will have on advertising.  With that in mind, we took some of the top questions from our clients and our team, and (hopefully) answered them in a way that is a little less technical and a little more accessible.  See below!: 

  • What even are cookies?
    • Cookies are tags, or pieces of code, that are placed on someone’s device (cell, laptop, etc) when they visit a website, for the purpose of gathering data.  Think of cookies kind of like a VIP wristband at a concert—the bouncer checks it any time you move in and out of the VIP areas, backstage, etc, but he can’t use it to track all of your movements within any of those areas.  When you visit a website, a cookie is placed on your browser, and this code is then utilized by advertising networks and analytics platforms to see what you go in and out of. If a cookie is present, these networks and platforms can then serve relevant ads and track your behavior accurately.
  • What are 3rd party cookies?
    • There are 3 parties to the conversation:
      • 1st Party:  Your brand & your brand’s website
      • 2nd Party:  The audience member/consumer
      • 3rd Party:  Your browser (Google Chrome, etc), which currently is relied upon to place cookies to gather data
  • How do 3rd party cookies affect my campaigns?
    • 3rd party cookies can also be used to help monitor a consumer’s path after they engage with an ad. With this path, an advertiser is able to attribute future actions (purchases, etc) to the original ad the consumer clicked. 
      • Example:  You see a display banner for a flip flop sale at Target and click through, but after browsing some of their inventory you decide to come back later when you can devote more time to your search for the perfect flops.  You X out of the Target website, but go back to the site a few days later and end up making a purchase.  3rd party cookies on the Target site can trace your path back to the original banner ad you clicked on, even though you didn’t buy something at that time. 
    • 3rd party cookies also help create a picture of who that person is; this behavioral information is then used to match against the targets when setting up a digital campaign.
      • Example:  Cookies have shown that you are a frequent visitor of vacation sites, tropical destination hotel sites, and shoe store sites.  These behaviors can be used to help determine that you would be some of the lower hanging fruit for advertising sales on flip flops.
  • How are 1st party cookies different?
    • 1st party cookies are data a site collects from a consumer directly.  Both Google and Facebook have a wealth of 1st party data, used to target ads on their own platforms. Because of this, while the life of the 3rd party cookie is coming to an end, this does not mean the end of tracking.
    • Google has also created their own method of targeting called Privacy Sandbox.  Consumer data is still collected, but rather than allow ads to target specific individuals, the individuals are lumped together into like groups and ads will be served to the group.   
  • Can I still do retargeting?  Has it changed in any way?
    • Cookies are currently used in retargeting as a method of determining which consumer devices will be served ads.  A consumer visits your website, where a cookie is placed on their device.  After that, your retargeting campaign is set up to only deliver ads to the people who have those cookies attached to them.
    • When 3rd party cookies disappear, the specifics of retargeting will also change.  Instead of relying on a browser (Google) to place the cookie, website owners will now be the ones placing the cookies on site.  The end result will not change, just the process leading up to it.
  • Can we still track foot traffic attributed to getting served ads?
    • Foot traffic tracking currently relies on the opt-in location data from mobile devices; with the new iOS Update (see next item) this decision to opt-in (or opt-out) is now in the consumers’ hands, rather than set as an opted-in default.  Because of this, fewer Apple devices are opted in, which means that the ability to track them from the moment they are served an ad to the moment they walk through your doors is limited only to those Apple devices who have opted in to location tracking.  NOTE:  This does not currently affect non-Apple devices, so complete foot traffic tracking for Samsung, etc, is still possible. 
    • Work arounds and long term solutions are currently being worked on by digital vendors, and we expect to have some answers soon.
  • What role does Apple/iPhone play in this whole thing?
    • The iOS Update that has been getting so much attention is similar to the 3rd party cookies issue, but is not the same thing.  With the new App Tracking Transparency feature, iPhone users will see a new pop-up asking them if they want to be tracked by allowing the app they’re in to access their unique device ID for advertising purposes.  (Up until now, this type of tracking happened automatically, and users weren’t given the opportunity beforehand to opt out.)  This change throws a wrench in Facebook’s ability to target, especially, as in-app Device ID tracking is one of the biggest ways they gather their targeting information.
    • Does it affect other phones, like Galaxy etc?  No….not yet.

Resources for the “New Normal”

As we continue to process the past year that has included so much change and deep loss for so many, we are encouraged to see more signs of recovery, both in spirit and in business. To that end, we thought we’d share some of the data and resources our team has found helpful in recent months, including everything from changing media habits and brand behavior, to the more practical questions like, “when will I wear real pants again?” We hope there is something you find useful, or at least a bit of humor in.

Re-Opening & Restriction Status by State:

These handy maps from NYT are constantly updated with the current re-opening status and restrictions by state. This information can be used to direct tone in messaging and imagery across different states.

This Nielsen Annual Marketing Report:

Curious how brands of different sizes and industries are prioritizing things like marketing objectives, attribution, and the importance of data types as we move toward a post-pandemic marketplace? Look no further than this report.

This Insight From Kantar:

For the seventh straight week, total spend among the top U.S. advertisers was above last year’s reported levels reflecting a continuous growth in confidence in the marketplace. Ad spend across the top 50 U.S. advertisers was up 72% YOY. Top categories were Media & Advertising, Retail, and Information Technology (bonus info: Amazon is the top spender in each category).

This Map, Which Shows the Pace of Economic Recovery in Each Market in the United States:

The map can be narrowed down by different industries, and gives insight into restrictions in each state. You can drill down by date as well, with data available as far back as January 28, 2020.  

Local to Arizona:

This site provides economic impact data, including travel and tourism for the state. There are dozens of drilldowns available, including housing/real estate, inflation & prices, annual household income levels, and more.

This Report on International Media Consumption:

This white paper asks the question, “Is there a new normal?”, and includes YOY media usage comparisons of 2019 & 2020 on a global level. Sneak peek (U.S.): Live TV viewership is static, we’ve seen a marked increase in Streaming Video, Podcasts may finally be coming into their own, and TikTok usage continues to grow at an accelerated rate.

Is It Finally Time To Ditch the Sweatpants?:

This article by WaPo discusses the recent shopping boom as people start to re-enter the onsite workplace and need to dress accordingly.

For Insights Into Consumer Opinion on “The New Normal”:

This article includes consumer views on continued social distancing, returning to “normal” routines, perceptions on how the pandemic is being handled in 2021, and more. Pro Tip: Scroll all the way to the bottom for additional drill-downs on work, dining, sports, socializing, entertainment, and shopping.

The Political Ad Avalanche is Coming: Is Your Marketing Plan Ready?

Are you ready for the political ad avalanche? 2020 is expected to break records with an anticipated $6 billion in spending, a 57% increase from 2018. (Note: as of 11/1/20 this figure has increased to close to $11 Billion). The increase is a result of record primary spending, as well as COVID-19, i.e. the lack of face-to-face campaigning driving higher shares of budget to paid media. The presidential general election will make up about a third of overall spending, with another third for congressional races. Locally, 14 markets are expected to top over $100 million; this figure increases to $150M+ in Phoenix, Philadelphia, and Atlanta as they are battle grounds for the presidential election, and include other competitive races such as McSally vs. Kelly for Senate, where spending began in February and is expected to continue through the general election.

Expect more diversification in media channels this year, with more than $4.4 billion coming from traditional media including Broadcast TV, Cable, Direct Mail, and Radio, with a heavy dose of Digital Video (largely Facebook and Google).


The majority of political advertising has traditionally been seen in Television and will continue to be a driver in 2020, however we have seen a large increase in Digital channels in recent years. COVID-19 has also resulted in more time spent at home which has increased Social Media usage and Video consumption including Over-the-Top (OTT) and Connected TV (CTV) placements. Digital Video is expected to be a major focus for the 2020 campaigns, including Streaming services. Radio is another channel where heavy political ad spend is seen, particularly on News/Talk formats, as well as stations in rural areas where there are no local Television broadcasts. Out of Home and Print also see their fair share of political ad spend and publish political and/or candidate rate cards during these periods.


It all comes down to supply and demand. Increased demand for advertising inventory in election periods means a reduction in supply, and that drives up rates. For general advertisers, this means that it is important to plan and schedule your advertising placements early. It is also critically important to work with your agency, or sales reps if working directly with media outlets, to have a plan in place to manage any changes that come up along the way, e.g. your TV schedule is pre-empted. Other tactics to adapt your Television schedule in an election period:

  • Consider Broadcast outlets’ Digital assets to reach a similar audience
  • Convert a portion of your Television and/or Radio buy to Streaming or CTV options
  • Take the opportunity to test new (or new to you) media types on their own or in combination; Radio + Outdoor is a great alternative to Television as it can provide similar levels of reach and increased frequency
  • Partner with another brand and share your owned audiences

If your risk tolerance is low or you simply do not want your brand to run among political ads, consider media outlets where they are not allowed such as Public Television. Additional outlets such as Twitter and National Cinemedia have chosen the same route. Inventory and rates are generally more stable.

If Television is a staple on your advertising plan, you can maintain a presence and ensure continued reach of this audience during an election period. The key is to work closely with your buyer/rep to adapt your schedule, understanding that every station and network’s situation/programming is different and will change over time. This may mean:

  • Paying higher rates
  • Incorporating shorter units:
    • :15 units are not as popular for political ads
    • :05s and :10s are not even offered to candidates
  • Securing a fixed sponsorship where there is heavy viewership among your target
  • Shifting to different dayparts, and/or out of news programming/networks

If September – October is not a critical period for your brand, you may consider pausing your Television presence, making sure to consider:

  • The halo effect that Television has on your brand, e.g. review direct web traffic and branded search during past campaigns in addition to direct leads if the spot included a unique phone number and/or URL
  • How long your brand has been able to “go dark” on Television in the past without negative consequences to sales/leads
  • The benefit of increased viewership during this time, particularly if your target audience shows heavy consumption of news programming
  • Ensure that other viable options exist and are available to deliver on your goals for the period

Finding the right ways to connect with your target audience is crucial at any time, particularly in an election year. And having the proper information to determine how to reach an audience can make or break the success of an ad campaign. It is also more important than ever to be flexible and adaptable during an election period. Many businesses rely on Q4 to ensure their annual sales goals/ROI, so staying nimble and getting creative about strategy and tactics is key.


Running the same or similar advertising plan you ran last year during this period is too risky. These are unprecedented times, with a global pandemic and a presidential election all in the same year, and should be handled as such to maximize your brand’s remaining 2020 advertising budget. You may need to:

  • Increase your budget to achieve the same communication goals you had planned
  • Be more flexible with your placements within and outside of Television
  • Test new tactics
  • Spend more time managing your campaign
  • Deal with uncertainty (yeah, more of that…)


Here are our key five takeaways on how to best maximize your media budget in a election period:

  1. High political spend does not mean that you should not advertise during these periods, even on TV
  2. Over communicate with your buyer/reps about your goals and expectations during this period, have a “Plan B”
  3. Take the opportunity to be flexible, get creative, test new things
  4. This is a dynamic marketplace with a lot of moving parts, stay informed of the changing situation and adapt
  5. If you have finalized your Q4 advertising schedules, now’s the time

If you have any questions on advertising during a political period or paid media in general, please reach out at info@catalystmediadesign.com.

What’s better than Research? Free-search, of course!

Catalyst Media Design was founded in part on the principal that agencies shouldn’t just be “trying stuff” with their clients’ valuable marketing dollars—that there should always be a foundation of data and research to better steward and predict the investment.

While we subscribe to a great deal of very valuable paid sources—over the years we have found complementing free research, or “free-search” as we like to call it, to bring additional insights for even greater success. Below are a few of our favorite media and marketing resources, many at no cost, to help your brand or business get a leg up, without the arm and a leg:

Want to see what ads your competitors are running? Head on over to Moat:

Moat.com — Moat offers true cross-device cross-platform analytics on trillions of ad impressions and content views to measure and drive attention. Through this site, it’s also possible to review competitors’ digital creatives and messaging. More than 33 billion times daily, Moat measures real time attention analytics and offers complete accuracy on the industry’s most important metrics as well as more than 50 MRC Accredited Metrics. It also offers real-time optimizations and reports so companies can review and adjust their marketing plans.

Trying to decide what keywords to bid on? I spy SpyFu:

SpyFu.com — SpyFu allows users to download competitors’ most profitable keywords and ads for paid and organic search. For example: Type in a domain name, and SpyFu can reveal every place the company has shown up via Google including any keyword they have purchased on Adwords, every organic rank, and every ad variation over the last 13 years. Through the site, SpyFu offers to help connect companies to the domains they are searching, find online and traditional lead methods that can’t be found elsewhere, increase website traffic, track your own keyword rankings on Google, Bing and Yahoo, and make better connections through which to build partnerships and generate sales leads.

Want a down-and-dirty quick report to help you rank higher on Google? Neil Patel is your new BFF:

NeilPatel.com — Neil Patel’s SEO Analyzeroffers a brief free quiz which will “score” your site and determine how much more traffic you could actually be getting. It also offers customized advice to help businesses drive more traffic, get more engagement and rank higher on Google in less than a month. The site can help analyze your SEO and point out SEO errors that can be amended to increase rankings.

Need help coming up with content ideas? Visit Answer the Public:

AnswerThePublic.com — This site allows you to find keywords as well as ideas for your brand and category to help optimize your content. It also features a Search Insight Beginner’s Course to help you use the Search Insight to understand your customers so you can better connect with them through your marketing efforts.

Want advertising insights from the source? No one has their fingers on the pulse of the public quite like the O.G. (that’s Original Google):

ThinkWithGoogle.com — An online powerhouse, Google offers such a wide array of free resources… why not marketing tips? Think with Google providers users with consumer insights, marketing resources such as data analytics and measurement, user experience and design, monetization, programmatic advertising and more to help companies expand their reach.

Looking for a radio station in a new market?:

Radio-Locator.com — Media veterans are well aware of this site. It’s no frills and exactly what you need to connect with stations around the world. This trusted radio search engine has links to more than 15,300 radio stations’ websites. Users can search for stations around the country via city or zip code, call letters or format, and for radio stations around the world by country as well as gain quick access to coverage maps and more.

Your Biz Dev team will love this one. Find contact names and email addresses at Hunter.io:

Hunter.io — By simply entering a domain name, users can receive contact names and email addresses to connect with the right contacts within these companies. The site has more than 200 million email addresses indexed and offers 50 free searches each month to help business development team members connect with those elusive prospects.

Want Data, Data, and more Data on the United States and its citizens? Look no further than the US Census!:

Census.gov — For a nearly endless array of demographics, the United States Census Bureau is certainly a wealth of information. Users can explore data and browse an array of topics including business and economy, age and sex, education, population, income, geography and more. Census survey results are also available on a variety of topics.

Want more? Don’t forget about The Internet itself — Search, search away! There are limitless resources and information via the world wide web. Solid research reports and viable articles are available on sites such as Pew Research, eMarketer, The Interactive Advertising Bureau, 4 A’s, HubSpot,  and ComScore.

Feeling a little disconnected? Back away from the computer and make a Site Visit — When searching for insights into your marketing campaign, don’t underestimate the power of good old-fashioned face-to-face experience. Make a site visit, check out the store, talk to employees, and observe what the customers are like. If your product is on store shelves, do some of your own visual analysis including where the product is sold within the store, positioning on shelves, competitors sold alongside it, category pricing and so forth.

When it comes to advertising and driving business results, there are many benefits to doing your own legwork as well as what can be learned from the myriad of online resources available at your fingertips. A combination of these two as well as expert professional advice can be a powerful trio to take your business to the next level.

Everything I Really Need to Know About Customer Service…I Learned from Metallica

By Kristen Orton, Director of Agency Services at Catalyst Media Design

In March 2019, Metallica announced that they would be the inaugural concert at the brand new Chase Center in San Francisco–and that they would be commemorating the 20th anniversary of their S&M album (a masterpiece of musical collaboration) by having the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra join them again on stage for the full show as well.   For a Metallica fan, this was huge!  Add to that that the concert date, 9/6/19, was just two weeks after a very milestone birthday of mine, and my going was a no-brainer.  I just needed to get tickets.  I set my calendar for the Fan Presale date and time, and prepared myself for the Ticketmaster panic.

If you’re as big a music lover as I am, you know that the purchase process on the Ticketmaster site for a high-demand concert is beyond stressful, with countdown clocks, frequent crashes, and confusing changes to the formatting—I am pretty sure that I lose days off of my life each time I log on to buy tickets.   And while Ticketmaster says it is striving to ensure that the fans–and not ticket resellers–get tickets, their process is pretty consistently flawed.  Still, I knew that for this San Fran show there would be an early Fan Presale, ensuring that first dibs would to the Metallica Fan Club members, and I had no doubt I’d get tix.

On the date of the Fan Presale, I logged on precisely at the on-sale time, then spent a nerve-wracking 30 minutes trying to get tickets.  The Ticketmaster site would go white, and I’d have to log in again.  Then it took me what felt like forever to figure out that, while the ticket limit was 2, the number that had been set in the Ticketmaster system as the default was 0, so for the first few tries I was asking for the Best Available Tickets, Quantity: 0.  I fixed that, but then when I would find 2 tickets and click on them to purchase, they’d suddenly disappear.  Finally, the site just started saying there were no tickets available (except Resale, which were somehow already in the system, minutes later, for $1,300+).

The next day I tried the Chase Card Presale and the same thing happened.  No tickets.  Then the Live Nation Presale.  No dice.  Then I tried to buy at the general public on-sale.  Nothing.  No tickets for me, and no Happy Birthday trip to San Fran.

Out of curiosity, I went to the Metallica Facebook page to see how other fans were faring, and found out that basically NO ONE got tickets.  Disappointed posts were everywhere, and I couldn’t find a single person who had actually gotten tickets or even knew someone who had.  I felt a little better that I wasn’t alone in being unable to purchase, but also felt a bit sad and betrayed. 

Sad and betrayed—why?   And what does this all have to do with customer service and client management?  Well, I expect nothing from Ticketmaster—they have never demonstrated any interest in keeping me as a consumer or in making sure my experience is ever pleasant.  Metallica, on the other hand, has spent years treating me like I’m something special, like I’m an important part of the band and the experience.  I have gotten to meet the band; been lucky enough to see them at an incredibly tiny and intimate venue (again in San Fran); and have been able to enjoy the show front and center thanks to winning a ticket upgrade.  They call their fans “Fifth Members”, and do treat us like we are the fifth member of the band and are as crucial to its survival as the actual 4 musicians.  So when none of the fans seemed to have gotten tickets to the San Fran show, it was pretty surprising.

Well, never fear, and never doubt.  Within two days, the band sent the fans a statement, which included the following:

We’ve heard you and we’ve learned from our missteps with this particular ticket on sale. We’re working to make this right as we are excited to announce that a second show has been added at the Chase Center in San Francisco on Sunday, September 8th. First order of business: No public on sale this time! Tickets for the second S&M² show will be available exclusively to Fifth Members.

A mere couple of days after the ticket debacle, the band had figured out a way to fix it, and one that was way above and beyond.  They acknowledged that the fans were frustrated.  They came up with a solution that would ensure that their core supporters had a fair shot at going to the show.  They didn’t just say, “I’m sorry”—they went out of their way to make it right.

Customer Service the Metallica Way:

  1. Make your customers feel special and appreciated at all times
  2. Cultivate your contact lists (email, social, etc) and foster those relationships, providing relevant content and engaging interactions
  3. Listen to what your customers have to say, and find ways to incorporate these ideas into your business
  4. Let your customers be the first to know when you have something new to share, and offer them exclusives that are just for them
  5. When you screw up:  Admit it, apologize, and come up with a solution that says “I value you and your support”

None of this is revolutionary; in fact, it’s all pretty much Customer Service 101.  But it’s amazing how often businesses and business owners can forget this (I’m looking at you, Ticketmaster), and how much of their time is spent on everything else except nurturing their existing Fan Base.    

There is plenty of proof that this works; most recently, Metallica’s appreciation and support of their fans has taken them to global heights:  Just a week or two after the San Fran show, news broke that Metallica is officially the World’s Biggest Touring Act.  According to Pollstar, “Simply based on numbers from ticket sales across 48 countries, a very popular merch line, impressive record sales, and a worldwide fanbase across multiple generations, Metallica could very well be the biggest band on Earth.”  The San Fran show very much reflected that global reach—it wasn’t just my Scottish friend (Scott the Scot) who was in attendance from overseas; thousands of fans from around the world held up their countries’ flags during the concert to show who they were and how far they had traveled to be a part of it all. 

Final takeaway:  Your customers are your biggest fans, and without them, your business would not survive. 

As Seen on (DR)TV

As Seen on DRTV

by Stacey Sheahan, Senior Media Planner/Buyer and DRTV Specialist at Catalyst Media Design

For many people, Direct Response Television, or DRTV, conjures up images of knives cutting through tin cans, tough stains disappearing with just a few sprinkles of a miracle product, or celebrities promoting their own lines of fitness equipment or beauty treatments. These spots may also include time-sensitive, hard-sell tactics, like “But wait, there’s more!”, or “Call now and receive a second one absolutely free!”, with the products only available through these direct sale channels.

While that may have been how DRTV started, the Internet has played a large part in changing its face and use, blurring the lines between direct-to-consumer and retail sales, reshaping the industry in the process. DRTV started as a direct-sales approach in the 1980s, gained steam as a paid media buying tactic in the 1990s, and has gone on to become an effective outlet to build awareness for a variety of companies and brands today, while still offering measurable sales. Today’s DRTV is highly evolved: capable and efficient, it’s a great tactic for small businesses or companies with a limited budget—a cost-effective way to reach a large television audience.

While traditional TV is generally purchased by a program or a set daypart such as “Prime Time,” DRTV is purchased using broader periods of time, requiring advertisers to be more flexible on when their commercials air. This flexibility is rewarded with spot rates typically 60 to 75 percent less than traditionally purchased television advertising. Many stations offer this lower-cost advertising option to help sell out available inventory, benefitting both the station and advertiser.

The purpose of a DRTV commercial is to provide information about a product or service and drive immediate response. Most DRTV spots include a strong call to action to ensure high response. DRTV commercials are also required by the television stations to include a response mechanism such as a phone number or website. Phone numbers and URLs are generally unique to each station or network to ensure performance tracking.

DRTV is further distinguished by spot length. “Short-form” refers to commercials under two minutes in length (60-second and 120-second spots are typical), while “long-form” refers to a spot longer than two minutes and can include the popular “30-minute infomercials.” These longer length spots are generally utilized when there is a great deal of education required in selling a product and/or the price point is high. Long-form advertisers sometimes convert to short-form when their products have achieved a level of brand awareness and no longer require the time needed for extended explanation.

Regardless of chosen length, a DRTV commercial may be purchased at a national or local level, on broadcast stations and cable as well as syndicated programming. The majority of stations and networks accept DRTV advertising. Buying strategies also differ when it comes to DRTV advertising; for example, a buyer can purchase DRTV direct from the station or network from the overall commercial rate card, which includes lower rates for spots purchased specifically as DRTV, or the buyer can purchase “remnant” inventory, which is available at an even lower rate but is more likely to be “pre-empted” or bumped out if a higher-paying advertiser comes along.

DRTV buys are measured based on response, not on Gross Rating Points (GRPs) like Traditional TV. Each advertiser has their own individual response, sales, and media efficiency goals, and their DRTV campaign is optimized toward those set goals.

At Catalyst Media Design, we have a detailed strategy for how we plan, buy, and optimize DRTV for our clients. First, we discuss and confirm the parameters of the campaign with each client, including target audience, target geography, budget, campaign goals, spot length, and additional factors as needed. If the target is broad, national coverage is considered. If the target is in local markets, we’ll only review local buying options.

Our media team reviews the target audience (demographic) for the product or service and then determines which stations or networks and time periods should be included. For example, if the company has an older target demographic, we may recommend news programming; for a male-skewing target, we may suggest ESPN. Schedules are then built and presented to clients for review. Upon approval, our buying team negotiates with the stations to ensure each client receives the lowest rates and best placements, using traditional ratings data along with past response data for the brand or category, if available.

We also work with each client and production team to employ proper tracking mechanisms to ensure the spot qualifies for DRTV buying and will provide response and performance data. Once the buys are placed, our buyers monitor clearance daily. Spots that are pre-empted are reallocated where possible. We also utilize dedicated tracking software to track spot times as well as response times—including calls, web leads, and more to produce a Cost Per Call (CPC). We then make adjustments to lower the CPC ongoing, such as shifting stations, dayparts, creative/ads, and even markets.

Another area we track and measure is dubbed the “halo effect,” referring to the effect DRTV spots have on other media channels, including increases in web traffic, click-through rates on digital campaigns, response rates on direct mail pieces and more. We believe that DRTV schedules should be constantly evolving and changing based on performance to maximize clients’ ROI.

In a time when the media landscape is highly fragmented and budgets have shifted toward digital, DRTV remains an effective, efficient, and trackable channel for brands small and large. If your brand is seeking direct leads and sales, a cost-efficient way to increase awareness, and an effective approach to utilizing additional media channels, DRTV may be exactly what you need.

The Importance of a Media Planner

The Importance of a Media Planner

Our very own Media Planner, Vanessa Shipley, discusses why it’s important to utilize a Media Planner to craft a solid marketing campaign.

The Importance of a Media Planner
By Vanessa Shipley

Traditional and digital advertising is a massive industry that can be overwhelming for a business to navigate—particularly when advertising sales representatives come highly equipped with an arsenal of data to convince you that their advertising outlet is the best way to reach potential customers. It may well be, but can be difficult for someone not well versed in advertising analytics to effectively determine. That’s where working with a media planner can be highly beneficial.

The first thing is understanding what exactly media planners do and how they can help a brand make the most of their advertising budget. Media planners are highly educated and trained to help brands reach their intended target audiences and achieve their marketing goals through paid advertising campaigns. They gather information from media suppliers such as radio and television stations, out of home companies, print publications, websites and digital networks. This information is combined with other relevant sources such as local market surveys, ratings data, advertising trends, and prior knowledge of the industry to create a strategic media recommendation that maps back to the client’s overall marketing objectives and campaign goals.

Over the past decade, our team has developed a proven media planning process that continues to deliver measurable results for our clients time and again. The process is effective because it’s individualized, not only for the brand, but also for the specific campaign. For each campaign that is developed, our team creates a customized media planning timeline to encompass the six phases of the process:

Media Planning Process

This process begins with our team gathering and analyzing information relevant to the campaign including client-provided as well as syndicated, third party data. From there, the planning parameters for the campaign are defined and confirmed with the client. This includes target audience, geography, budget, timing/seasonality, and creative considerations. From there we define the media objectives and strategies for the campaign-essentially what are we trying to accomplish with this budget and how are we going to do it. The next phase is where our team recommends the media mix, i.e. which media types should be included in the plan. Once approved, we move on to media tactics—the details of the plan including specific media suppliers, flighting, negotiated rates, etc. The plan is then presented in a visual format—the media flowchart—for final approval.

Our process is also quite interactive, including the participation and approval of the client before moving forward to each next phase. Ample time is built in to allow the planning team time to do their diligence as well as for the client to review and secure the necessary buy-in from their team before we move forward. Also included in the process is sufficient time for our planning team to strategically negotiate rates, ratings, and placements, including added value, on behalf of the client. The traffic team is also working alongside the planners to create a production timeline and deliver all necessary mechanical specs and deadline information to the client or the team in charge of producing ads for the campaign. All teams work in harmony to deliver a plan on time and on spec. Because the client is approving each stage along the way, the end result is a thoughtful, strategic plan ready for implementation. Time is not wasted going back to the drawing board because the client’s budget or some other parameter has changed along the way and was not communicated to the agency, or a stakeholder on the client’s team had not been able to review the plan prior to delivery.

A thoughtful process and solid, resulting media plan are a great start, however alone cannot ensure success. There are many integral pieces that work together to achieve an effective ad campaign that garners real, measurable results for a client. A strong media plan must be executed with a solid creative message and compelling artwork. For example, a client can have the most eye-catching and captivating ad campaign, but if it doesn’t land in front of the right eyes at the right time, then results are likely to fall flat. Conversely, without compelling creative messaging, even the best-laid media plan can deliver less-than-desirable results. The consumer’s sales experience must also be well thought through to ensure maximum engagement and conversion. These things working together in tandem will bring measurable results.

Much like the importance of location in real estate, and timing in life, getting your message in front of the right people at the right time is essential to success in advertising. Without a seasoned media planner to identify the best options, much of a brand’s marketing budget can be wasted. Working with an expert will bring a greater understanding of the target audience, a more strategic plan, and ultimately greater results. The paid media investment is generally the largest within the overall marketing budget—don’t understate the value of media planning and its role to ensure that your brand receives the highest possible return on investment.

Employee Spotlight: Edie Klein, Traffic Supervisor

Employee Spotlight: Edie Klein, Traffic Supervisor

What do you enjoy about the role of Traffic Supervisor?

EK: It’s like working on a giant puzzle. You have all the pieces in front of you and you have to figure out which one goes where and when, until everything has been completed.

What keeps you inspired? Do you have a favorite story about what brought you to the world of media?

EK: What keeps me inspired is a story from when I was in 6th grade. My teacher gave the class hard plastic shapes that we had to make into a square. The first person to complete the assignment would receive an A for the day. I completed it before anyone else in the class, and when I told him I was done, he said he knew I would be the first to finish because I was the only one that didn’t give up. I’ve carried that with me all these years, no matter what I have encountered in my career, I just keep trying because I know I will figure it out.

There are so many details involved in the role of Traffic Supervisor. What would you say in the most important characteristic that you bring to the job?

EK: You have to be a detective. You have to figure out what vendors or clients are asking for and make sure you are executing the requests properly. Because if the media doesn’t run, everyone’s hard work was for nothing.

You have a new line of Jewelry you created! You just launched an Etsy site last month to sell your pieces. Where/when did this passion start and what do love most about this outlet?

EK: When I was in college, DIY crafting shows were just starting to air on TV. I loved to watch them in between my classes and dream of the things I would make “when I was out in the real world”. The jewelry segments were always my favorite. In 2003, one of my co-workers was making a necklace during her lunch break. I asked her if she could show me how to do it and after that one lesson, I was hooked. Making jewelry provides me the opportunity to explore different patterns and I love the challenge of finding just the right components to put together to create something unique.

What’s something about you that very few people know?

EK: I’m the youngest of four siblings, but only by one minute. Growing up my twin brother loved to remind me of that every day.

What’s your favorite thing to do away from work?

EK: Besides working on my jewelry, I love to spend time with my family. I have a 6-year-old daughter and she is hilarious! She has quite the imagination and I love to watch her play, sing and act out her own movies. My husband and I also love to take my daughter camping up North. It is so amazing that we can drive an hour away and be in a completely different landscape.

Have you traveled to any fun places lately?

EK: We took a trip this summer to the Mogollon Rim and camped at Woods Canyon Lake. We were able to do some hiking, watch the fish jumping in the lake and teasing all the fisherman, tell scary stories around the campfire, and saw an Osprey swoop down and catch a fish right from the water.

If you had to describe yourself as a beverage, what would it be and why?

EK: I would be a 7-UP. I’m always there to help you out when you’re not feeling your best.

What would you consider your best trait?

EK: My attention to detail. I try to make sure what I put out into the world is my best effort no matter if it is something personal or work related.

The Value of Creative Rotation – By Katie Terrazas

Varying creative visuals and messaging may appear to be one of the simplest ways to target the right audience with the right message for an advertising campaign. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds Read more




What do you love about the Account Management role?

I love the ability to service multiple clients and ensure that their objectives are being met, while also managing my team and setting them up for success.


If you had to describe yourself as a beverage, what would it be and why?

If I had to describe myself as a beverage, I would choose coffee – not only because I am a coffee fanatic, but it also describes my personality. I am a morning person with tons of energy who loves to keep the people around me happy, energized and motivated to make them the best they can be.


Do you have any hobbies or things you are deeply passionate about?

I am passionate about being active and trying new activities that push me out of my comfort zone.


What’s your favorite thing to do away from work?

I love cooking and all things food related. Whether that’s making new recipes, watching cooking shows, or trying new restaurants around town.