Scheduling deals with the question, ‘When should we advertise the product?’ The answer depends on many factors such as the marketing objective, product sales trend, competition, budget, etc. as we will see in the article.
Types of scheduling patterns:
There are three types of scheduling patterns broadly:
- Continuity – Advertise throughout the year and evenly throughout the year.
- Flighting – Advertise only during some months of the year
- Pulsing – It is a mix of both continuity and flighting, where you have a base amount of activity and you increase the media activity during some periods.
With significant amount of money being spent on media activities and increasing quarterly pressures, it becomes very important to get the best out of every rupee. It is important to understand how to schedule the advertisements for a brand or product. Some of the key factors that influence the scheduling pattern for a brand are as below.
The scheduling of an advertisement for a brand is most heavily influenced by what exactly is the marketing objective. For example, a brand launch (on its first year), the objective is to increase the awareness than to increase sales. So, the advertisement scheduling will be tuned towards increasing reach. For example, a typical target could be to reach 75% of the max TG through the vehicle. Similarly, if the objective is to increase sales through some consumer promotions, then the scheduling has to be planned in synch with the promotion time.
The scheduling strategy of when to advertise your product also gets impacted majorly by the target group (TG) you’re targeting and their viewership habits. For example, if your target group is male 25-40 years, then you may push more advertising on the weekends as the male viewership increases across specific channels on the weekend. So, a good understanding of how the TG consumes the media is very important to set the right scheduling strategy for the brand.
For most FMCG products, sales happen throughout the year, but some periods show significant increase in sales (blip in sales). For example, a brand like Pears gets sold more in the winter months of the year. In such brands and categories, you see an increase in advertisements during the respective seasons.
Besides looking at the sales trend of the brand, it is important to understand the purchase cycle of the brand. Is the brand bought at the end of the month as a monthly grocery purchase, or is the brand bought throughout the month or at the beginning of the month. It also depends on what pack-sizes are sold, for example, if larger packs are sold in Metros and smaller packs are sold in lower towns, and then your scheduling of advertisements should differ for the smaller towns and metros appropriately.
It is important to advertise at the time when your product has the highest chance of being sold. If you advertise your product, it is important to be present in the store. It is important for the marketer to work on the advertisement scheduling in accord with the distribution plan.
Another typical question could be: Should I advertise more in the stronger markets and leverage more? or Should I advertise less in the stronger markets and advertise more in the weaker markets?
Typically for any product or brand, some markets are more important than the other markets. So, typically your advertisement budgets are skewed towards some markets, which will affect the scheduling patterns for the brand.
It is important to closely understand the sales trend, media activity, and past scheduling patterns of the competitor. Another key question for the marketer is: Should I closely mimic the competitor scheduling pattern or Should I take a different approach?. For example, if you observe GSK’s Sensodyne and Colgate-Palmolive’s Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief advertise mostly at the same time following a similar advertisement scheduling pattern.
If budgets are low for a brand, then the brand may prefer to drop the media activity for a couple of weeks and then be present with the threshold weights for some specific periods. As one understands, budget is an important parameter influencing any decision.
The above discussed parameters are some of the most common major factors that influence the scheduling strategy for a brand. Any comments from the media or non-media professionals on this regard are most welcome.