The Advertising Marketplace and the Media Planning Course

By Lloyd, Carla V.; Slater, Jan et al. | Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, Autumn 2000 | Go to article overview

The Advertising Marketplace and the Media Planning Course


Lloyd, Carla V., Slater, Jan, Robbs, Brett, Journalism & Mass Communication Educator


The media world has been rocked by change. New technologies, approaches and structures are radically challenging "old ways" of delivering, planning, buying, and selling media. Media planning professionals must find ways to deliver messages to consumers in a media landscape that looks very different than it did just a few years ago. For example, today's media planners work at a time when:

*Digital technology is creating more media choices than ever before.

*Audience fragmentation has replaced mass audiences.

*Established research methods are being challenged, and old evaluative measures such as reach and efficiency are being replaced with consumer information (Heyer, 1999, p. 63).

*Clients are demanding more accountability and a direct causal relationship between advertising expenditures and sales (Heyer, p. 63).

*Agency media departments are being unbundled and restructured to increase media buying clout and attract new business.

*Media strategy is viewed as "the driving force in brand communications," giving it precedence over creative strategy (Bidlake, 1999, p. 3).

* Fewer media owners control massive media outlets.

All of these changes - from fragmentation to clutter to the rise of the Internet - directly impact how media planning courses are taught in university programs. With so much transformation happening at lightning speed, the question really becomes a matter of what should and shouldn't be stressed in media planning courses. In essence, how should advertising professors who teach media planning react to these changes to prepare students for a media world gripped by change?

Literature review

In recent years, the effect of these changes on media planning has received significant attention from academics. Scholars have examined media fragmentation (Lin, 1994); investigated the impact of integrated marketing on media planning (Lloyd, 1996; Katz and Lendrevie, 1996); explored ways of evaluating the effectiveness of Internet advertising (Hong and Leckenby, 1996; Hong and Leckenby, 1997; Michels and Lancaster, 1997); and called into question the theory of effective frequency, suggesting that in its place new emphasis be put on both reach and recency (Cannon and Riordan, 1997; Ephron, 1997; Jones, 1997; and Tellis, 1997).

But little attention has been devoted recently to examining how these changes are affecting what professors teach in their media planning courses. More than 10 years have passed since Lancaster and Martin (1988) replicated Jugenheimer's 1976 survey of media instructors to learn more about how the media planning course was being taught. So much has changed that this survey has more historical interest than present-day adaptability. More up-to-- date is the Martin and Lloyd (1992) survey of media teachers from 75 universities that investigated how computers were being used in media planning courses. More than half of the respondents were using a full-featured media planning software program, and users reported the software enabled them to spend significantly more time teaching ideas about media strategy and theory, and much less time teaching skill-oriented tasks. Phelps (1996) surveyed more than 300 media professionals who agreed that students needed more exposure to media buying, and both Phelps (1996) and King and Morrison (1996) have described a number of buying exercises and software programs that can be incorporated into the media planning course.

Perhaps the question of how media professors should respond to the major shifts in the media marketplace received its most focused attention in a session chaired by University of Texas advertising professor Wei-Na Lee at the 1996 American Academy of Advertising conference. A variety of recommendations were proposed. For instance, Barnes (1996) cited the need to teach students how to understand consumers in the marketing context. Callcott (1996) and Tucker (1996) recommended that students be taught how to view media in broader terms and to be creative in media planning. …

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