UX and Media Planning: A data driven approach to greater results

Last Modified: May 8th, 2021 - Category: UX, Marketing
media planning ux

Welcome to the world of media planning and advertising! This is one of the many areas where UX plays an important role. I wrote this article in Spanish around 2016 or 2017, analyzing Latin American and Argentine markets, but I think some of the concepts may still be of interest to those learning UX, as well as business owners

UX professionals usually face the challenge of generating instances of usability that conform to different stakeholders (different parts of the project).

Depending on the project and the material, economic, human resources availability, etc., these stakeholders will have varying degrees of complexity, and the project members will have different functions and interests.

Now, unless we are working on a project for an NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) or a government institution, or on campaigns for the common good, most of our work will be projects seeking a profitable income.

In these cases, and if the above circumstances allow, we will have the opportunity to work with marketing experts who will (basically) complement our work.

Marketing and user experience are constantly converging, and indeed marketing is one of the disciplines that many Uxers come from (including the one writing these lines). But of course, a specialist will have more tools to help us with our project.

If we are lucky enough to be in a project with larger resources, we may be able to count on media specialists, Big Data, Functional Analysts, Statistical Experts, etc.

However, in many cases it will happen to us that we have to work alone. Of course, this is not recommended and the result will not be the best no matter how much effort we put in. We will always lack information, different views, specific knowledge and everything that makes a working group effective.

Unfortunately, whether due to lack of resources, lack of knowledge, or worse, a belief that “I know everything,” many clients will act as if a User Experience professional is an orchestra man who must know about everything and execute it.

This is related to our profession: since User Experience is a scientific approach that takes elements from so many other disciplines and sciences, we are required to have some knowledge, even if it is superficial, about many things that no other science or discipline would combine in any other way.

(As an anecdote, in a well-known UX forum I have seen questions about life on other planets, molecular physics, semiotic analysis, and many other unusual things).

Back to the topic of media planning and UX: one of the recurring questions will be how to define an effective strategy for our clients’ products or services. And also how these decisions affect User Experience and especially usability.

Defining media planning strategies

Any good user experience designer should base their strategies on research and reliable data. And this is of extreme importance.

It is not uncommon to find supposed experts who derive their strategies from their own experience and subjectivity (in fact, and unfortunately, this is most often the case). If the strategy works based on this subjective data, it is pure chance, read: luck.

I’ll let you in on a secret: In UX the word LUCK is forbidden!

Someone will logically ask: what happens if our budget doesn’t allow for good research with real users? Well, then we have to look for data in previous research, benchmarking, statistical analysis in case of existing products or websites, etc. For more information, check out the article Introduction to Persona Concept in User Experience. What should never happen is to trust our own instinct: It may work, but sooner or later it is a sure failure.

To do this research, we can start with the following more or less basic questions:

  • What is the product or service about?
  • What needs does it cover?
  • Who is it intended for?

As you can see, nothing strange or unusual. It’s clear that these simple and innocuous questions will lead to a higher level of complexity. It’s up to us to define the level of data granularity based on our needs and capabilities.

Once we know the answer to these questions, we can research further to define our media strategy.

As an example, let’s say our client wants to launch a new product. Our research has defined that it is a Spanish speaking audience, socioeconomic level ABC1, age range 18-50. In addition, we can define that our ideal users have access to and are attracted to technology, are more likely to focus on large urban groups, and make the final decision on their purchases.

In traditional marketing, by the book, this would be a strategy based on television advertising. So we tried to investigate it, and we found the research done by LAMAC (Latin American Multichannel Advertising Council / Latin American Multichannel Advertising Council).

media planning in Latin America infographic

As good UXers, we will not judge a book by its cover, we will click on the mentioned link to read the whole document in PDF format. We can see that cable television has a wider distribution than free-to-air television. Not wanting to settle for the first data we find, we look for more sources and see that the data is confirmed. Better yet, the socioeconomic segmentation matches, suggesting that cable advertising would be our best option.


Probably not.

Free-to-air television usually consists of no more than 5 channels, while cable can have hundreds. And it shows in the cost per second. While free-to-air television can reach exorbitant prices like $25000 per second, a leading cable channel does not exceed $3000 per second, and most channels are in the $100 to $500 per second range. For those who want a bigger picture, visit Advertising Investments with Argentine data on volume and cost.

So some will say, “We’d better opt for free-to-air television.” And usually the answer will be a blunt YES… as long as our budget allows it (and remember how we started, we said our budget was low!).

Then all the variables we hadn’t considered in principle pop up, including words like share, ROI, penetration, etc.

But of course times have changed and we have more and more tools at our disposal, so we decided to venture into PPC (Pay per Click / Pay per Visit). For those who want to dive deeper into the similarities and differences between the two most common systems (AdWords and Facebook), I recommend this article Google AdWords vs Facebook Ads. I also recommend Facebook vs YouTube for those who want to advertise with videos.

Going back to our use case, we can see that we have options like AdWords, Facebook, YouTube, BingAds and a long list could go on. I won’t go into detail about which is the best option because… Exactly: only data can tell us!

Conclusion: Advertising requires a lot of thought

Media planning is just a part of a bigger equation. And all variables in this equation are equally important, so it’s highly recommended to look for expert’s advice in order to save money and make more out of your budget.

Note: if you want to learn more about how to get better results for your brand, you might be interested in our 2-parts article How to Identify a Good Design Agency

Disclaimer: This content was translated to English from the original we wrote in Spanish, available in UXpañol

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