What is a media mix and why is it important?

A media mix is an essential part of marketing and advertising. Read on to learn about media mix marketing, media mix optimization, media mix modeling, and how to incorporate these in your marketing strategy.

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What is a media mix?

A media mix, or marketing mix, is the combination of communication methods in which brands can reach their desired audiences. To understand what this means, consider these four elements of marketing:

A media mix encompasses all the possible ways a product reaches its chosen audience(s)—or people—through avenues like traditional advertising, grassroots marketing, digital advertising, social media, email, and landing pages. Those methods are the third element in the marketing mix: place.

Perhaps Brand A reaches audiences through digital-only campaigns. Their media mix could be a combination of display ads, social media ads, and native advertising.

Perhaps Brand B prefers to reach audiences through traditional methods. Their media mix might look like transit signage, direct mail, and TV and radio spots.

These are only some of the tactics that brands can use for promotion, which spans advertising, public relations, and other ways to share your message. When it comes to advertising, many brands find a mix of traditional and digital media to be the most cost-effective approach, accounting for the highest ROI (return on investment) for the price—the fifth and final element of the marketing mix.

Why is media mix important?

A brand’s media mix is important for total ROI and testing new campaigns. Having a diverse mix of media means a brand isn’t putting all its marketing or advertising budget in one place and relying on only one method to reach their desired audience. If one method is underperforming, having a diverse mix means that the other methods can help balance out the total ROI while you optimize—or choose to eliminate—ineffective options.

Also, a media mix allows brands the freedom to more confidently try new things. For example, if a brand has always seen positive results from digital display ads but is interested in trying Streaming TV ads, it can allocate half of its advertising budget to digital display and half to streaming. This allows the brand to test something new while keeping a safety net in place. Since digital advertising is a dynamic field, the ability to test and evolve your strategy is important.

What is media mix modeling?

Media mix modeling, also referred to as marketing mix modeling, is a technique used by advertisers to predict how media will perform based on previous activity and other factors like seasonality. It helps marketers answer questions like:

What is the right mix of budget allocation in order for me to drive the highest possible ROI?

How will different methods perform now and in the future?

How do non-marketing factors, like weather, influence my ROI?

How do offline and online media contribute to my ROI?

It focuses on gathering information from all available sources and determining how much each piece is contributing to the whole and predicting how the media will perform over time. It takes a top-down approach and is beneficial in that it can also take offline efforts into consideration.

An example of media mix modeling includes these steps:

Gather marketing and sales data and revenue.

Gather digital ad metrics, including things like CTRs (click-through rates), CPC (cost per click), total impressions, total engagement, and video views.

Gather offline ad metrics that map to online calls to action, such as website visits and impressions.

Analyze data and notice trends. Evaluate the impact of each media vehicle in driving conversions.

Consider adjusting its media mix so there is more budget allocated to the best-performing media, or to reallocate the lowest-performing media budget to a different media altogether.

Another type of modeling is attribution modeling, which focuses on how audiences converted. In contrast, media mix modeling looks at the longer-term view of how the media mix will perform over time across all stages of the customer journey, not just how many people made a purchase.

What is media mix optimization?

Media mix optimization analyzes how your messages are resonating with customers. It’s the process of figuring out which combinations of marketing methods work best together in order to see the best results. It involves creating models that predict likely results from each type of media, or place, a brand is considering investing in.

To do this, brands use marketing data and analytics available to them in order to pinpoint where along the customer journey their intended audiences are most likely to engage with the brand. With that information, they can make more informed decisions about where and how to allocate their budget for the best ROI.

Media mix optimization isn’t as helpful when considering traditional media outlets—such as billboards or transit ads—which are harder to track than digital media. However, it can be useful for brands in determining which content and design are resonating most with audiences online.

Digital advertising as a key part of the marketing mix

Digital advertising is a great way to maximize effectiveness of a brand’s marketing mix. To learn why, first, let’s break down advertising into five core elements:

Mission: What you want the campaign to achieve

Money: How much you will spend on the campaign budget

Message: The primary call to action you want to communicate

Media: The tools for delivery of your message

Measurement: The metrics you'll track to show campaign results

As previously mentioned, a strength of digital is that it’s easier to measure results like click-through rates, opens, views, conversion rates, and how long audiences interacted with your ad. Digital advertising can be more cost-effective than traditional ads as well, helping you stretch your budget further. And, because you can do A/B testing and make real-time changes to messages, digital advertising also helps you zero in on the right content easier than, say, a TV spot that’s set in stone after it’s finalized.

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