Media planning in the promotional industries

Gerstman, Victoria C. (2019) Media planning in the promotional industries. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Media planning agencies occupy an interesting space within the promotional industries, at once part of and separate to advertising and media production. The ostensible role of media planning is to select the best media opportunities for conveying promotional messaging to a client brand’s desired target. The work of media planning, however, is characterised by fluxing media industrial conditions and shifting agency remits. This project therefore focuses on media planning as a distinct area of research, answering the question, ‘what is the role and the work of media planning as a sector?’

This thesis begins by tracing media planning’s development from a component of advertising practice to a major promotional industry sub-field unto itself. Here, the PhD make its first key proposition, arguing that the emergence of standalone media agencies in the 1990s can be directly linked to the fragmentation of media choices during this same time period. In Chapter two, this thesis outlines the existing literature and theoretical approaches for understanding media planning, situating the work of media planning as belonging to the field of the promotional industries. These two contextual chapters give way to the PhD’s three empirically-based chapters. In order to provide an understanding of what media planning is, how it works and where it fits within the broader promotional industries, these empirical chapters draw on research frameworks from media industry studies and production studies. Chapter three uses informant interviews with media planning practitioners to provide an understanding of the daily work life of contemporary media planning, as described by media industry professionals. The similarities present across these interviews help to relieve patterns in how media planning professionals understand and manage their work lives. Meanwhile Chapter three investigates how conceptions of media planning expertise are circulated, using textual analysis of publicly available research reports to highlight the ways in which media agencies circulate claims of expertise. This chapter argues that these research reports serve a dual purpose, showcasing media planning expertise not just to potential clients but also to agency employees. Chapters three and four therefore argue that, on an individual and organizational level, media planners and media agencies adhere to set strategies for coping with the uncertainties of a changeable industry environment. Finally, Chapter five synthesizes the findings of participant observation at the Cannes Lions festival in order to highlight how media planning is represented within the broader promotional industries. Chapter five asserts first that media planning was presented as linked to data, while data was positioned at the festival as a creative tool. The thesis concludes with a forward-facing argument: the promotional industries, of which media planning is part, are undergoing a period of reconfiguration. During this moment of reconfiguration media planning has the potential for increased preeminence within the promotional industries, aided by further audience fragmentation and the continued framing of data as a creative tool.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Grainge, Paul
Johnson, Catherine
Keywords: media planning, media agencies, promotional industries; advertising campaigns
Subjects: H Social sciences > HF Commerce
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Modern Languages and Cultures
Item ID: 56304
Depositing User: Gerstman, Victoria
Date Deposited: 17 Sep 2019 12:47
Last Modified: 06 May 2020 15:01

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