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February 15, 2017

Exploring The Pros & Cons Of The Media From A Planner's Perspective

The 2017 edition of our research annual, Intermedia Dimensions has just been released in its ebook format (with the print edition to follow later this month). For those unfamiliar with this longstanding report, it is a media planning guide, designed to facilitate the process of making intermedia comparisons by reviewing the synergies and interactions that various media mixes can generate. We examine and compare each of the major media on topics such as time spent, audience demographics, reach capabilities, CPM/CPP comparisons, ad exposure/impact and more.

Of particular interest to many of our readers are the basic pros and cons of each medium from a planner's perspective. It's a worthy entrée into the larger and more detailed analyses mentioned above. We include some highlights below:

Broadcast TV Networks

Pros include nearly universal coverage and high reach potential and high quality, merchandisable programming. Cons include ongoing rating erosion and relatively few very selectively targeted programs. From a planning perspective, upfront audience tonnage is guaranteed, and there is a relative ease in time buying and post-buy servicing. However, broadcast network CPMs are the highest compared to other forms of TV.

Cable Networks

Pros include a high degree of audience and program environment selectivity, and made-for-cable shows that are often of better quality than broadcast. Cons include high clutter rates and a heavy reliance on reruns. As with broadcast, upfront audience tonnage is guaranteed; however, with so many players and spots to police, it is a more complicated proposition than compared to broadcast.

Spot TV

While available in all dayparts and offering unique local targeting capabilities, spot TV is difficult to buy and service, and there are no firm guarantees for audience delivery and spot placement.

Syndicated TV

National syndication breaks feature fewer ads and less zapping by viewers, but it is not available in key dayparts (prime, early AM), and it is hard to attain high levels of reach using syndication alone. Syndication does offer lower CPMs than broadcast and is easy to buy and service.

Spot Radio

Benefits include demographic selectivity by station format, as well as geographic/regional targeting, and the unique ability to reach listeners out-of-home, particularly in their cars. The impact of radio ads remains questionable however, and radio ads are difficult to buy and service.

Network Radio

Fairly high reach, low CPMS and ease of buying and servicing make network radio appealing, but as with spot radio, questions about ad impact remain.


Magazine audiences tend to be ad receptive and see ads as part of their reading experience. Highly selective editorial content allows for targeting by interest and mindset. However, total audience attainment can be slow, and continued circulation losses create a negative image for the medium.


Newspapers enjoy unique daily targeting capabilities and editorial selectivity within editions, but a declining and aging readership makes this medium less appealing. Buys are easy to buy and service, but little information is available on the effectiveness of newspaper advertising.


High potential reach, demographic/mindset selectivity and unique interactive aspects are among the pros for this medium; but serious questions about audience exposure data supplied by sellers have cast a pall on its benefits.

Out-of-Home Billboards/Posters

Geographic flexibility and low CPMs are two of OOH's key benefits, but many advertisers question the value of such ads, given the brevity of exposure. Ads are also difficult to buy/oversee, and long lead times for ad placements are common.

Of course these are just some of the issues to consider across the media. Visit our Intermedia Dimensions 2017 page for more information on the range of data covered in this edition.


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