What is the secret to great media planning?

New analysis shows that some media perform consistently around the world, but local insight is needed to maximize media effectiveness.
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Media touchpoints
Caroline Schicketanz

Product Development Director, Insights

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It’s well established that great advertising is both local and global. But how does this inform strategic media planning? Which elements should you centralize and which should you manage locally? Should you manage certain touchpoints or paid media globally? And where is local expertise essential?

Our recent Media Reactions study showed that consumer preferences for different media channels and brands can vary dramatically across countries and that local media brands are often more popular than global ones. Further, our new report based on cross-regional analysis from Kantar’s Connect and CrossMedia databases (covering 6,000 brands and 1,600 campaigns) highlights regional similarities and differences in touchpoint and media effectiveness around the globe.

The findings show that the three touchpoints with the highest brand impact are similar across regions. Beyond that, there is much variation. Cost-effectiveness varies significantly across media, but not so much by region. And the effectiveness of media reach varies widely across regions, so deployment requires significant local adaptation.

Paid, earned and owned touchpoints matter

Paid touchpoints have gradually gained more impact over the past few years, providing marketers with more opportunities to directly impact consumer attitudes towards the brand. Nevertheless, non-paid touchpoints have their fair share in influencing brand strength globally and across regions. A balanced mix of paid and non-paid touchpoints leads to succeeds in all regions.

TV ads and recommendations from friends and family are among the three most impactful touchpoints everywhere. In most regions, personal product experience is also among the top three. Product experience is less relevant in Greater China though where brand websites, for example, play a greater role. Social media, the fifth most impactful touchpoint globally, is even more important in Latin America where it is up to three times more impactful than in other regions.

Some touchpoints have a better quality of experience

Touchpoint impact is driven by reach, the quality of experience, or a combination of both. Recommendations from friends and family and personal experience are seen as a high-quality experience in all regions. Consumers evaluate these touchpoints very positively, indicating that they have a positive effect on how they feel and think about a brand.

Knowing which touchpoints provide a high-quality experience in each market is important so they can be leveraged to deliver a strong brand impact. In large parts of APAC and Africa and the Middle East (AME) for example, TV ads generate above average quality ratings. The same applies to brand stores in the UK and Ireland, North America and Australia and New Zealand. There is room for improvement in content quality for social media, out of home, print and online ads in most regions.

Media reach varies widely across regions

Given historical spend levels, it’s no surprise that TV is the invincible global reach champion, generating the highest reach of all media in all regions. It is most dominant in India where campaigns generate an average reach of 81% compared to 50% in North America.

Beyond TV, we see significant variation in the reach levels of other media by region. Point of Sale ads deliver 47% reach in UK and Ireland, the second highest paid media in this region, but only 36% in Australia and New Zealand. Outdoor usually has far greater scale in Europe (46% reach) than in India (24%), while brands in Latin America and India achieve above average reach with Facebook, YouTube and online ads.

Cost effectiveness varies across media, but less so by region

To assess relative cost effectiveness across channels we compare share of investment with the contribution to brand metrics for each media channel. YouTube, Point of Sale, Facebook and cinema ads are the most cost-effective brand-building media globally, and they perform strongly across regions. In Latin America, YouTube’s share of contribution to brand metrics is three times higher than the share of spend which results in a cost-effectiveness index of 306. Point of Sale is most cost-effective in Europe (305). Facebook delivers far above average cost effectiveness of 350 in North America.

TV is generally low on cost effectiveness in most regions due to high spend levels, but it generates above average cost effectiveness in UK and Ireland. Outdoor ads struggle in many regions but deliver a higher return on investment in India and AME. Online display cost effectiveness also tends to be low, except in India and Latin America.

Regional media effectiveness learnings

Regional media effectiveness learnings

Source: Kantar Power of Connection 3.0

Regional understanding is key

Local judgement and cultural understanding are essential to making the right media decisions. For example, we see a wide variance in the cost-effectiveness index of radio ads around the world, from as high as 172 in Latin America to as low as 36 AME. In AME, we observe a very high share of radio spend which generates excessive frequency, but the contribution to brand metrics is limited.

This might lead AME marketers to take radio off their media plans, but it is important to consider the regional context and consumer opinions and behavior before drawing conclusions. Media Reactions showed that consumer and marketer positivity towards radio is much higher in AME than in other parts of the world. And our local media experts explain that radio remains crucial to reaching consumers of different ethnicity and languages, an important consideration for many brands.

The same approach may not fly everywhere

A global airline ran a campaign in five markets (Australia, China, India, UK and US). Results from five CrossMedia studies showed more impact on metrics like familiarity and consideration in Australia, India and the UK where the campaign was more integrated across channels and the media mix was better optimized. This was mostly due to the way those countries used online media. The research identified savings of over $1 million in the US and China, and the client used these “enlightening results” to optimize their subsequent campaign.


While there are some similarities in touchpoint effectiveness across regions that suggest global media strategies, marketers also need to consider the regional and local impact when they design and evaluate campaigns. In particular, the potential scale, but also the way impact and cost-effectiveness of touchpoints varies across regions. Brand-specific research can further illuminate the understanding of touchpoint impact in each unique situation, accounting for category, audience and country-level factors. Even for global brands, the brand-building potential of media needs to be assessed and evaluated on a local level for an effective multi-media media strategy.

Download the free report to learn more about the regional findings, recommendations for success and for regional case studies.

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