Media Planners Expect to Make Greater Use of Market Research

June 1, 2022

The use of market research by media planners should grow significantly this year, if results from a HubSpot survey come to fruition. In surveying more than 600 media planners, HubSpot found that 43% leverage market research, but that a sizable 45% are planning to use market research for the first time this year.

The survey certainly indicates a strong consensus that research is a critical and effective piece of media planning. When users of several different media planning strategies were asked which are most effective, a leading 70% of respondents using channel research said that conducting market research to find the most effective channel to reach target audiences is their most effective strategy. Next on the list, almost two-thirds (64%) conducting market research to understand the demographics of target audiences said this was their most effective strategy. These were ahead of other strategies including running content audits (59% of users saying most effective) and leveraging media planning templates (46%).

This year, 53% of media planners expect to leverage channel research for the first time, while many will also use media planning templates (39%) and content audits (37%) for the first time. When running content audits, media planners most commonly are hoping to identify content gaps (content their audience is interested in but hasn’t yet been covered) and identify issues with their website (such as broken links and slow load times). As far as benefits of content audits, the most widely cited are improving the website user experience, identifying and increasing the visibility of top-performing content, and identifying content gaps.

Goals and Channels

The top objective of a media planning strategy, not surprisingly, is to engage and grow new audiences. Close behind, though, many are looking for their planning strategies to maximize ROI of their content and to understand which channels and platforms their audience spends the most time on.

Clues to the answers to these latter goals are found in other results from the research. When considering the channels and platforms where audiences are spending their time, email continues to be a mainstay, if media planners’ most-used channels are to be trusted. Indeed, email marketing is the most used media channel by media planners, followed closely by paid social media content. Organic social media content and organic search are also key parts of the media mix.

Digital engagement strategies have changed as a result of the pandemic, and social media has indeed become an integral piece of the marketing mix. It looks likely to stay that way, as many marketers who made strategy changes due to the pandemic plan to retain them.

As for channel ROI, users of paid social content are the most bullish about its effectiveness, with 57% saying that it has the highest ROI. Following in quick succession are users of organic social content (48%), email marketing (47%) and organic search (45%), with almost half of each saying these channels have the largest ROI.


Most media planners responding to the HubSpot survey create media plans fairly frequently. The largest portion (47%) do so once a quarter, although almost one-fifth (17%) do so each month. Just 6% do so on annual basis.

This is reflected in media plan formulation timelines. 6 in 10 typically formulate their plans either 1-2 (31%) or 3-4 (30%) months in advance, though about 1 in 5 (21% share) do so less than a month in advance, suggesting that they’re often tinkering with their plans.

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