Making Every Media Buying Dollar Count | Videomarketingworks tip

Written by Tim McLarty

October 8, 2020

As businesses all try and make sense of marketing in a pandemic, here are some basics to keep in mind for your media spend when you’re dealing with a very small budget. With so much uncertainty, every dollar counts. These are general rules of thumb and relate to TV & radio. But these principles can be applied to digital and other media when there are obvious competitors in a marketplace.


Choosing the medium is such a crucial part of your media buy. The greatest commercial in the world, placed on the wrong outlet will produce mediocre results. It’s important that you do your homework. Clearly determine your age demographic and income target and have your media outlet sales rep provide detailed information on where their outlet falls in line with their major competitors. If we’re talking radio or television, they’ll provide their station in the best light, so filter through the information and ask the right questions. The simplest way is to ask for a cost per point of your demographic, but take other factors into account, such as cost per unit in relation to the audience they reach. A number 2 or 3 station in the market can offer excellent return at less cost when you are working with a barebones budget.

Your Station Strategy

 1. Choose a medium where your audience lives. (see above)2. Choose a sufficient saturation of your ads  –  Every person you want to be a customer, will need to be touched multiple times (see below) 3. When you choose one medium, you’re only reaching the fraction of people that medium reaches.  And you’re sharing that fraction with all your competitors who may be buying the same or more saturation.Some things to keep in mind with 1 medium being purchased at a time. It’s never recommended you only go with one outlet in a media plan. But if you’re starting out slow, here are hard and fast rules.
  • Choose the medium that best targets your audience age and financial situation  -Example: 35-54 with a household income $100,000
  • Allow enough saturation on that medium to reach each person who is a potential customer an average of 7 times
  • They must be reached that 7 times while they are actively seeking your product
  • When you pull off a medium, the longer you are off that medium, the more the nurturing process has to start all over.
  • Ensure the message is exactly what you represent and features the key selling proposition . Exception? Humour or heavy personality branded ads have much more budget to share their subtle sell messaging over several commercials and sub-brands. This is very common in the insurance industry where they have several products and some require a more serious approach, rather than humour. Examples: Geico, Progressive.

The Rule of 3’s

People will react to the advertiser who reaches them on more than one medium in a short period of time. (2 weeks is a reasonable timeframe)  It’s a cumulative effect which psychologically tells the consumer YOU are the LEADER of that service in the market.  If someone sees/hears an advertisement in multiple media, (3 different media) it also speeds up the likelihood they will respond to your ad verses someone who only uses Google ads, for example. It’s a “barrage” effect where people start to think you are larger than you are, and are “everywhere”.When you combine a traditional media like radio or TV with Google ads, it greatly improves the effectiveness of the Google ad because you have already created trust and familiarity through your multiple touch-points. 

Stale Advertising / Innovative Products

If you are reaching the same audience with the same messaging – they begin to tune it out.  They are looking for whoever seems to be fresh, new and innovative.  That’s why messaging, offers, and repackaging is essential. For a loan company, for example, things like 3 months no payments, or a PowerBuilder Credit Card (pre-paid credit card that helps to restore someone’s credit) can help introduce the company to a new customer. The loan company can then take this small piece of business and build the relationship into bigger products when the trust is created. 

Timely Advertising

It’s never been more apparent advertisers need to reference Covid in their advertising.  They don’t need to say Covid.  But they need to be sensitive to the challenges with language like Through times like these…or …We’re getting through this together... or …When you really need it most. Emotional approach advertising like this needs to be shared on your organic and paid social platforms too. 

Is your creative and placement working together?

We’ve worked with clients of all sizes; big banks and small soho’s. We help you tune your messaging and meld it all together with visual and verbal consistency across your website, funnel and traditional advertising.  

Free Review

 Would you like us to take a look at your current branding and marketing program? We offer complimentary advice at with no obligation. If you’re feeling your current branding and marketing program is not firing on all cylinders or you’re launching a new venture and would like a second (or third) set of eyes, call us at 416. 304.0449 or send us a note on our contact page.

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Tim McLarty - Ontrack Communications Inc.

About the author

Tim McLarty is creative director at Ontrack Communications in Toronto. He’s a podcaster, and his background includes 9 years as professor of media creation at Humber College and 17 years as a broadcaster across Canada.  Ontrack is a media studio creating video, motion graphics, audio and podcast content.  In his spare time he makes short films and travels to any country that will have him.