Excessive reliance on data may lead to a situation akin to how a drunk uses a light pole - more for support than illumination. Media planners and buyers would be doing clients a great disservice if they just stick to published research data when recommending a print media plan. The factors - beyond readership numbers - that ought to be considered are:
In print, it is easy for the reader to just turn the page. While this problem can be partly resolved on TV by various tactics, solving this problem on print requires a strong partnership between the media and creative teams.
Going by circulation and readership alone may lead you astray when it comes to selecting vehicles beyond the visible mainline ones. While selecting smaller, regional or niche publications, cover price can give an indication of the perceived value of the publication among its readers, especially when choosing between two publications with comparable readership or circulation numbers.
Amount of local retail advertising:
One of the most powerful indicators of the strength of a publication (especially dailies) is the amount of local retail advertising it garners. In a situation where the planner or buyer is stuck while choosing between two, the solution is to go for the one with the largest volume of local advertising. Locals know it best!
Client category imperative:
There are certain categories where the usage of print is imperative irrespective of a superior reach/cost efficiency boasted by other media owners. For these categories, print is the media most trusted by the consumers.
A quick analysis of other advertisers in a publication, both from within the advertiser's product category and outside will give a fairly good indication of a publication's standing in a market. Large advertisers are safe to use as a quality check since most of them do considerable checks on media vehicles across all their markets by soliciting feedback from their sales force.
Most progressive print media owners today offer solutions beyond just the primary product. These could be in the form of radio, on-ground activation and even outdoor. These diversifications have helped them to not only grow their revenues but also defend their share of the advertising pie. Analyses will show that it is more cost effective to use an integrated solutions approach offered by the print media owner, even if it means settling for the second-largest publication in a market.
(The author is the chief growth officer of Dentsu Media India.)