Examining Your Current Media Plan (How to Conduct a Situational Audit)

A look at how to review your current media plan and determine if you are on track to reach your objectives

We have published several blogs on how to plan new media campaigns, as well as best practice for designing and developing media plans. But an area just as important, and perhaps less covered, is to how to assess and examine your existing media plan.

So, to your 2019 marketing plan. We're all halfway through. The bookings have been made, half of the placements have been fulfilled and the rest are yet to happen. How can we take stock at this halfway point and ensure the plan is on track?

This post provides advice on how to put your existing plan under the microscope. It also details some of the metrics to use to wheedle out the bookings that are not working and identify the ones that are working.


A situational audit is the first port of call to find out what we are currently doing and how well it is performing; an essential task for any marketer embarking on a review of current performance.

It is likely that you will have your plans in Microsoft Excel, potentially using its more advanced features. There are good specialist media buying software out there, such as Bionic, that do an excellent job of planning, executing and analysing. These are mostly agency tools, and most pharma organisations still work in Excel.

Take your Excel spreadsheet, put the phone on do not disturb and set your email to "work offline." I can't stress enough how important this is for intensive tasks!

Your spreadsheet will currently have columns such as Publisher, Publication, Product and Rate. In addition, add these columns: Audience/reach, Expected impressions, Expected CTR and CPM. I find adding a column for print or digital also helps as it means you can filter out the campaigns to work out averages.

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Each campaign will be different and have different objectives; your webinar will have different objectives and results than an e-blast or a digital display campaign. A webinar will look to generate attendees, an e-blast will want CTR against a CTA and digital display positions will be looking for impressions and CTR.

Some of the main metrics to collate in order to measure are:

  • Impressions

  • CPM

  • Average CPM

  • Opens/Unique Opens

  • Average Opens (%)

  • Visits/Unique Visits

  • CTR (Click-through rate)

  • Average UCTOR (Unique-click-through open rate)

  • Average CTOR (Click-to-open rate)

  • Total Leads

  • Lead to Close ratio

  • Channel Specific Traffic (Acquisition section of your Google Analytics).

Once you have the metrics from your digital campaigns you will be able to start the analysis. It's important to have this data at the start of the campaign so you can measure impact as the campaigns take hold. Does your open rate improve over time? Does your CTR improve?


As time progresses you will be able to benchmark your campaigns as they happen, but if you can get hold of industry averages for the publishers, compare the data. Always ask media partners for this info. They should provide you with this as it's not customer-specific. Knowing how your e-blast performs compared with the industry average is extremely important.


Clearly, digital campaigns are easier to quantify results than print campaigns, but there are things we can deploy to measure the print campaigns.

An easy way of measuring print campaigns is by using an ad survey study. Many publishers provide a free ad study when you advertise in certain issues (usually June, July and August). If it fits in with your plans, ensuring you have a print advert in one of these issues is a great idea.


Running your own surveys can be another option. It's a more expensive option, but a brand that wants to analyse the effectiveness of their marketing should have a good handle on how the brand is perceived by the market at the start of the campaign, then again at the end of it.

Our advice would be to imply a professional polling company to write the questionnaire and to conduct it through an industry-leading publication (digitally). The respondents don't have to know it's your survey, you can keep it anonymous. It's a great way of gauging where your brand sits against your competitors in the mind of your customers.


Of course, the best way to measure your campaigns is by working closely with the sales team to see how marketing is assisting the sales effort. Is your brand recognised anecdotally? Is the product name and USP gaining traction in the market place?

Your salespeople will report back on how they see (or do not see) your marketing efforts, on the ground, in the exhibitions, in the sales meetings, on the sales calls, relevant to your media placements. Always make time for the monthly sales/marketing meeting and discover how they are finding the leads that your marketing efforts, more specifically, your media plans, are generating.

Alternatively, we can do this for you at no cost...