Toy Marketing Media Mix: The Why Is More Important Than The What

The rapid expansion of media channels and devices is making it more challenging for advertisers to find the right media mix to reach consumers, at the right time and place, for maximum return on investment. Rising media costs and tight marketing budgets are adding to that challenge. How are advertisers to think about this omni-channel, always connected media environment given the proliferation of digital options and the media proclaimed death of TV, magazines, radio and newspaper?

First, realize it’s really not a question on how to use a specific channel. You simply cannot succeed in a single-channel environment.  Not anymore!

What we are seeing is far from the decline and replacement of traditional media that you might read in the trade press and blogosphere. We are at a fundamental inflection point where the number of “media channels” of importance have been multiplied. Target consumers are increasing their year-over-year usage of both traditional and new digital channels and are often engaging in all of them (often simultaneously). The way they use this media is more chaotic than linear and that chaos is the real challenge for the advertiser: multiple media touchpoints, multiple devices in multiple locations.  Understanding the role of individual media in the pathway to purchase requires some new thinking.  With this new thinking comes a new level of media planning, buying, and campaign management, and a heightened level of analysis and reporting that can lead to campaign optimization…and greater return for the brand.

Second, don’t let the “Bright Shiny Object Syndrome” drive your strategy.

It’s very easy to fall in love with the latest technological fad. The thing is it’s not about the technology. If we start our media mix here than we have already failed. The problem is three-fold. 1) Shiny objects don’t last forever and usually by the time we jump on one the consumer has moved on. 2) Rapid growth and adoption doesn’t directly translate to leverageable scale, and 3) we tend to make the mistake of approaching new technologies in the way we approached the old technologies.  But it shouldn’t work that way.  Preconceived notions don’t translate from one medium to another.   Because consumers interact differently with each medium, we have to approach each medium from a different mindset…with consumers’ behaviors in mind. 

When selecting channels for the media plan the why is now more important than the what. Understanding why consumers use each medium and how it influences their purchase decisions is more important than choosing “the old tried and true” or the latest medium.

The process starts with understanding consumer media behavior on a far deeper level than just media exposure and efficiency. Justifying where to put marketing dollars requires fact-based insight across all media platforms for all target audiences.  For Toys and Games that means looking at both Kids and Moms.

How do we communicate with the consumer? The clichéd answer to this question is that if the target is under the age of 50 the communication of brand messages is all about social media and mobile devices. Such a blanket statement is fundamentally wrong. We have identified some of the core motivations, purchase influence and media consumption behaviors of Kids and their Moms.

Kids:  Building “the want”.

1.  Kids rarely buy toys and games directly but they exert great influence on the process.

2. They aspire to have the toys their friends have. Media plays a key role in triggering the “I want/I gotta have”.

3. TV is the largest media habit and most influential medium to drive “the want” for Kids. Dollar for dollar, TV is still the best place to reach the masses and showcase your toy.  But, if you want to keep Kids engaged, you have to go beyond TV. 

4.  For Kids, internet is entertainment.  It’s about gaming, streaming videos and visiting sites like, and

5.  YouTube is the #3 U.S. website - bigger than Yahoo, Gmail, and Amazon.

6.  Mobile: Kids own their own phones (22%) and tablets (25%) but restrict use to gaming.

7.  Social Networking: Still growing kid medium due to age restrictions, parental control. Less than 20% of Kids 6-11 are active on social sites.


Moms: Driving the sale.

·        Moms are harder to reach via media and marketing than in decades past.

·        Technology affects how Moms socialize, communicate and, more importantly, purchase items for themselves and their families.

·        Moms with Kids under six watch less TV overall than the general population, but over-index on time-shifted TV each month.

·        On any given day, 67% of Moms use the internet while watching TV simultaneously. 

·        Mobile serves as a life line and is increasingly the “go to” device for shopping. 

·        Moms of Kids 0-5 are more than twice as likely to visit a social site 3X+ per day.

·         Social media’s role in ROI is to amplify and reverberate passive and active advocacy…but it cannot work in isolation. 


The multi-channel media planning demanded by todays’ Path to Purchase has set new rules for the toy advertiser:

·        Recognize the multi-touchpoint flow of the path and need for multiple media channels.

·        Incorporating cross-device usage into the digital plan is critical.  

·        Align the offer and creative to the medium and its role in the pathway.

·        Branding is critical.  Make it quickly and easily identifiable in every medium.


Digital media options have added complexity to media planning. As a result, we need to continuously refine and improve marketing plans based on the ever-changing media environment. Test and learn is the new mantra. Insights into consumer buying behavior and the way they interact with media are now fundamental to generating sales and driving ROI.

A single channel media campaign creates a one dimensional brand.  For a more robust media campaign, consider a multi-channel approach.  You’re brand will be better because of it.  

GfK MRI, 2013 American Kids Study
Experian Hitwise US, Top 10 US Websites by total visits week ending November 30, 2013

David Becker, President, Blue Plate Media Services

Tim Jones, Media Director, Blue Plate Media Services