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Media Planning Calculus: On-Line Computer System


In the year 1969, a convenient on-line computer system was developed (Little & Lodish, 1969). The model utilizes the numerical techniques, which are able to transform data and judgments into a schedule. The on-line computer program does the selection and scheduling of advertisement in the media. In the system, market response, input or output program, and a heuristic search are integrated. The system is fed with media objective and subjective data options relating to the audience and budget. Thereafter, the system selects the schedules and advertises them based on the market response and profit margins of the company.

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Agreements and disagreements

The model is in agreement with other models that assert that reach and frequency form the central basis of any media-advertising plan (Little & Lodish, 1969). As such, it ensures that the intended person gets the advertisement message. The constant reminder helps to solve the fading message of the advertisement with time. In my own opinion, the effects of linearity on exposures have an upper limit. Beyond this limit, extra exposure has less value. As such, it avoids unnecessary schedules. However, utilizing linearity equates to adopting a schedule without a model, especially for approaches that lack systematic and explicit methods. Thus, the diminishing returns that use the non-linear models were introduced. There is also disagreement concerning the model’s curve and the diminishing returns, as some people argue that there is no empirical evidence to show increasing returns at low levels (Little & Lodish, 1969). It is also true that despite the existence of models, the evaluation of the efficiency and effectiveness is carried outside the model.

Advantages and disadvantages

The media planning calculus is flexible and permits several assumptions. Through this, it provides guidelines for data and judgments; hence, a better outcome. The method has proved to deliver the same solution to a deterministic problem, just like the heuristic search methods. The Media Planning Calculus has always provided a better schedule than any other method. However, it should be noted that the model lacks an accurate estimate of the cost because media costs are in the form of discrete numbers. Thus, the budget could be slightly lower or higher.

How the model works

In the model, a population is split into market segments (Little & Lodish, 1969). People in each segment constitute both sales potential and media habits. Insertions and media options make up a media schedule. Insertion is responsible for the exposure in market segments. Since people have a tendency of forgetting the exposure, the level goes down in the absence of new exposure. In the article, the model formula includes memory constant that takes care of the advertisement‘s wear off. The total market response is arrived by adding up people, time, and market segments.

I believe the proposal of the advertising model is of great value in advertising media even today. Even though it dates back to 1969, there has been no other better mathematical model adopted to select advertising media. As such, the model is based on analytical formulas, which yield very efficient computations; hence, the outcome is better. In fact, the studies have shown that there has been about 5-20% schedule improvement on the previous methods. In my opinion, the model can be improved further in the future. In addition, the system’s operation and communication via a computer are easy to understand. It can be integrated with the media, which is an on-line system. Similarly, the model allows the use of a heuristic model over a time-shared computer (Little & Lodish, 1969). Therefore, I believe that the model is still efficient compared to other methods.


Little, J. D., & Lodish, L. M. (1969). A Media Planning Calculus. Operations Research, 17(1), 1-35.

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