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State media buy plans come in many different shapes and sizes. Some provide very basic information while others are extremely detailed. In any case, the key is making sure that the person who writes the plan has the appropriate information before beginning.

Getting Started

If you are working with a PR or advertising firm to develop the media buy plan, here’s what they need to know before they begin:

  • Primary (and secondary) target audiences
  • Flight dates
  • Markets (prioritized)
  • Media weight (gross rating point/GRP) goals
  • Budget
  • KPI’s
  • Key Marketing Objective
  • Communication Goals
  • Creative Brief

Evaluating the Plan

On a very basic level, the plan is evaluated on how well it addresses the areas listed above. But to really know if it is a good plan, you need to dig a little deeper. Therefore, in addition to target audience, flight dates, markets, and GRP goals, you should look at the following:

  • Are you leveraging your State’s buy with the NHTSA buys during the national mobilization periods?
  • How well the proposed TV programs or cable TV networks reach your target audience. For example, the target audience for the Occupant Protection and Impaired Driving Enforcement Campaigns is Men 18-34. Typically, broadcast TV programming such as local news, Oprah, or daytime “soaps” do not deliver the Men 18- to 34-year-old very effectively. Among cable channels, Comedy Central and Spike TV are very efficient in reaching this target, but HGTV and Lifetime would not be.
  • In some cases the viewing habits of an 18-year-old may be different from those of a 34-year-old. Therefore, before making the buy, you may want to review additional research data to break out your target audience age cells (i.e., men 18-24 and men 25-34) for the programs you plan on purchasing. This will let you know if the audience delivery is relatively even between the two groups.
  • Since radio is listened to and purchased based on formats, be sure the proposed formats are a good fit with the target audience. Using men 18-34 as the example again, classic rock and alternative rock are usually very efficient, while news/talk and gospel/Christian radio formats are typically not very efficient.
  • Once the geographic markets are prioritized, be sure the plan delivers sufficient media weight (GRPs) in each market. If not, you should consider eliminating lower priority markets and reallocating the dollars from those markets to ensure that you have scheduled enough media weight in the priority markets to make an impact.
  • While using multiple media (TV, radio, etc.) is very important to a successful campaign, make sure you schedule adequate media weight for your primary medium before adding a secondary medium. If not, you will not reach your target with enough frequency to effect behavioral change.
  • For example, your media plan might include broadcast and cable TV and radio, but your budget only allows you to schedule a total of 75 GRPs per week on broadcast TV, 50 GRPs per week on cable and 75 GRPs per week on radio. Assuming broadcast TV is your primary medium, you would be better off eliminating cable or radio from the buy and reallocating the dollars to broadcast TV. This would enable you to increase your GRPs on broadcast TV to a more effective level.

Other Helpful Tips

  • The TV (broadcast and cable) media weight goals established by NHTSA for a two-week campaign are usually 100-300 GRPs per week.
  • Radio media weight goals for a two-week campaign are 100-200 GRPs per week. NOTE: This is based on radio serving as a secondary medium.
  • Frequency is critical to affecting awareness and behavioral change during a short flight. Therefore, if you have a limited budget, consider scheduling broadcast programming that reaches a smaller number of your target audience, but enables you to reach them more times (for instance, go with the less expensive late night programming vs. more expensive prime programming because you get more frequency/spots even though you get less reach). In addition, due to a lower unit cost, cable TV programming also will enable you to increase the frequency of your schedule.
  • Sports programming typically costs more than traditional programming because it has a higher composition of men 18-34 (who are hard to reach), is more specialized, and has less available inventory (spots available to purchase). This doesn’t mean you should not consider using sports in your plan.