Media planning is a world of metrics, segments and measurement, with no small amount of strategic thinking. 

But a media planner’s aim is to reach people, not numbers, so using the most representative data is crucial.

Survey data provides planners with solid insights from pertinent data points that behavioral analytics alone could only hint at. 

It’s about stripping back the digital complexities of media planning, and asking the questions that get to the heart of what consumers are doing, and why.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on what media planners do with survey data to optimize their targeting.

1. Research their target market.

Regularly updated survey data helps planners stay ahead of the latest industry trends, as well as consumer perceptions of the market, allowing them to identify key opportunities and pitfalls. 

These industry shifts can refer to market triggers such as technological advancement, environmental focus or CSR.

Pinpointing and digging down into trends within the industry is important for shaping strategy and targeting. At the same time, it highlights risks. 



Let’s say you’re developing a media plan for a large CPG brand looking to raise awareness in the U.S. and UK.

One of the influential socio-political movements impacting the CPG market today is plastic reduction. But to truly understand the impact plastic is having on consumer behaviors in the CPG space, you need to find out what real consumers are saying. 

Survey data reveals some heavy-hitting trends around green consumerism

  • 53% of U.S. and UK consumers say they’ve reduced the amount of plastic they use in the past 12 months. 
  • 61% of consumers say they’re likely to switch to a brand that’s more environmentally friendly.


Key takeaway

Identifying a potentially impactful social phenomenon and aligning with it can bolster a campaign’s impact.

Consumer insight feeds into multiple parts of the planning process, from placement to creative, because of its overarching relevance to the industry and the target audience.

2. Build detailed audience segments.

Successful media campaigns are built on a deep audience understanding. And what better way to understand consumers than to gather insights directly from them. 

Survey data not only offers a more detailed look into the behaviors of the consumers you’re looking to target, it has the power to unlock deeper emotional and psychological levers that drive certain behaviors. 

Segmentation is perhaps the most important element of targeting, ensuring the right message reaches the right people, in the right place. 

The more detailed the segments, the more targeted the delivery.

Survey data allows planners to create segments based on more than behavior, including emotional responses and wider perceptions (all easy to segment by region). 



Let’s stick with the same example. You’ve worked with the brand to establish that CPG brands are under pressure from consumers to deliver sustainably-packaged goods and that failure to recognize this could mean a loss in brand confidence.

But what’s wider consumer opinion on the topic? Here’s what a deep-dive into our data reveals: 

Emotional responses: 

  • 68% of UK consumers say they use greener packaging to avoid being wasteful.
  • 61% of U.S. consumers say they use greener packaging to support sustainable businesses.


  • There are still many consumers who feel there isn’t sufficient information about recycling on the packaging of their products. 
  • 3 in 10 consumers don’t feel they have enough information about what packaging can be recycled.
  • Of those who say they feel less informed about recycling, 41% say it’s because brand campaigns don’t give them enough information.
  • Of those who say they feel less informed about recycling, 41% say it’s because brand campaigns don’t give them enough information.


Key takeaway

Audience segments should be built on more than just behaviors such as device usage and media consumption.

Instead, broaden your understanding by focusing on emotions and perceptions that are guiding those behaviors. 

If the aim of segmentation is to ensure your media activity speaks to people on an individual level, you should aim to aim to unearth individual audience personas foremost.

3. Balance the media mix.

In recent years, our online consumption of content and engagement with brands has become a lot more fragmented. Media channels themselves have become more expansive and complex.

This means planners need to approach media management through a more strategic lense.

Taking paid, owned and earned media into account, an effective media mix relies on insights into consumer behavior for direction, to engage consumers across multiple channels and platforms with more targeted and tailored messaging.

Based on the findings from your segmentation, survey data shows which channels will work best for your audience, taking assumption out of the equation.



Having gathered consumer behaviors, attitudes and motivations around environmentalism in the CPG sector and segmenting your audience accordingly, it’s time to research the media channels that will get you the best return. 

Here’s an example of how survey data guides placement strategy: 

  • Of the U.S. consumers who have an interest in environmental issues, 60% say they’re high or heavy users of social media
  • Of the UK consumers who say they have an interest in environmental issues, they’re 26% less likely than average to be a heavy user of physical press (newspapers and magazines). 

Combining this with brand discovery and advocacy data across different channels among this audience will highlight channels where the creative will not only resonate with users on a personal level, but have the desired effect from a commercial standpoint.


Key takeaway

Leveraging survey data to understand the full scope of channels at your disposal will clearly illustrate the reach you’ll be getting. The more robust data sets give you visibility into who is active on which channels, categorized into attitudinal and regional segments. 

Case Study: Perfecting a media plan with attitudinal data 

BBDO is no stranger to using data to inform campaign strategy. So when a leading client in the financial sector was looking to target fans of a global sporting event, consumer data was a crucial starting point.

“The aim was to get people to feel comfortable and confident when they travel, and to see this brand’s services as a better option to facilitate transactions,” says Chris Daniele, VP and Director of Digital Analytics and Measurement Lead at BBDO NY.

The team started by using GlobalWebIndex to develop different segments of fans in key markets, based on behaviors and needs. Then they dug deeper.

“Being able to examine who these people are and how they behave is where the value lies for us,” says Chris.

Once the attitudes behind their target audiences’ behaviors and levels of brand trust were identified, the team could build out their campaign with confidence.

“This data allows us to create and validate audiences on a global scale, which is something not a lot of agencies have at their disposal,” says Chris. “This enables us to confidently go forward when we need to, with global audiences and strategies.”

The result was a campaign that successfully challenged common misconceptions target audiences had around traveling.

The campaign’s purpose was to stop consumers from worrying about risks associated with transactions in global markets, transforming their ‘worry’ into newfound trust in the brand and its unique offerings.

Taking media planning to the next level

Knowing why consumers behave the way they do today is more important than it’s ever been. 

This is because consumers are less easily swayed by branded content. Because of the sheer volume and variety of ads they’re exposed to, they’re becoming desensitized, actively blocking irrelevant content. 

Remember that what consumers consider relevant comes down to personal preference.

So although ‘reach’ remains an important metric for the modern media planner, ‘relevance’ should equally, feed into every stage. 

Survey data ensures your creative aligns with consumer and market needs, helping to shape a powerful message that drives the best emotional response -and as a result – commercial return.

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