Can you imagine a world without advertising? It’s hard to do so. Advertising has become increasingly important in today’s digital age, allowing brands to reach their target audience and increase sales.
Media buying is an essential aspect of advertising that enables brands to buy advertising slots on TV and radio stations, websites, newspapers, magazines, and other platforms. From buying a 30-second ad on TV to placing billboards on the side of highways, media buying helps brands get their message out and reach their target market.
This guide to media buying will help you understand the basics of how it works, the best digital media platforms to use, and some tips to help you get the most out of your media buying strategy.
What Is Media Buying?
Media buying is the process of purchasing ad space in various outlets, such as newspapers, magazines, websites, and social media. It’s a great tool for getting your message out to the world, but it can also be challenging. Knowing where and when to place an ad for maximum exposure can help you get the most out of your advertising budget, and this is where a media buyer comes in.
The goal is to secure the best advertising opportunities at the lowest possible cost while ensuring that the right people see your message. For example, a shampoo company might buy ad space in a magazine targeting women, while an automobile manufacturer may purchase billboard space close to dealerships.
Media buyers work on the media plan, which outlines the campaign’s strategy, budget, and goals. They study media markets and determine the best venues for advertising, negotiating within those parameters to get the lowest rates possible. Not only do they review proposals from various media outlets, negotiate prices, and purchase the ad, but they also track how well it performs.
What Is A Media Buyer? And What Does A Media Buyer Do?
A media buyer is a professional who works to purchase advertising space and time in places where it gets optimum engagement from the target audience. The media buyer ensures that the advertisement will reach potential customers in the right place at the right time. They also have knowledge of pricing structures for different ad placements and how to negotiate terms with media vendors.
There are a variety of tasks that media buyers handle, including:
Developing a buying strategy
Buying strategy is deciding where and when to invest in advertising space. It involves researching different media outlets, understanding the target demographic and audience you are trying to reach, and deciding which venues offer the most value for your money. Media buyers can develop a strategy that best suits their client’s needs.
Negotiating and purchasing
Once the media buyer has developed a buying strategy, they will contact vendors to review their proposals, negotiate pricing and placement, and then purchase the ad space. The media buyer needs to have an eye for detail when negotiating the best deal for the client and understanding what will work best for their needs.
Collaborating and communicating with other teams
To ensure the success of any marketing campaign, it is important to collaborate and maintain communication with other teams. The media buyer works with copywriters, designers, and creatives to ensure the campaign is on target. They also work with other marketing and sales teams to ensure the campaigns are cohesive across channels.
Analyzing and tracking performance
After launching the campaign, the media buyer analyzes its performance to ensure it meets expectations. By tracking the campaign’s performance, they can adjust strategies as needed and ensure the client gets the maximum return on their investment.
Staying up to date on trends
As the marketing landscape is ever-changing, media buyers need to stay current on the latest trends and new platforms for advertising. With the rise of digital marketing, media buyers need to be updated on all the latest advertising trends, strategies, and products to deliver the best results for their clients.
Media Buying vs Media Planning
Although the two terms can be used interchangeably, a key difference exists between media buying and media planning.
Media planning comes before media buying. It involves devising your campaigns’ overall strategy and budget, looking into market trends and target audiences, and deciding which outlets to use for the best reach. Media planners create a plan to reach the desired audience and deliver the best ROI for their clients.
Meanwhile, media buying is the process of purchasing advertising space in various media outlets. It involves negotiating rates, reviewing proposals, and ensuring the ad placement aligns with the plan. Media buyers ensure the campaigns reach their desired audience and achieve the desired results.
Here are the key differences between media buying and media planning to better understand how they both work:
- Media planning is a strategic process, while media buying is transactional.
- Media planning requires more research and analysis, while media buying involves purchasing.
- Media planners focus on setting a budget and understanding the target audience, while media buyers focus on negotiating with vendors and optimizing the placements for the best reach.
The Media Buying Process & Tips
The media buying process can be time-consuming and complex, but getting your campaigns off the ground is essential. With the right tools and resources, you can ensure your campaigns reach their target audience and achieve the desired results.
Media buying process
Here are the steps that you should follow when media buying:
Review the media plan
The first and most important step is to review the media plan created by the media planner. Check whether the authorities have approved the plan or if it’s in the signing process. You can’t proceed with the next step if it’s not approved.
If approved, review the media plan closely to understand the target audience, budget, goals, target, and strategies to be used. In case there are any discrepancies, have them clarified before proceeding.
Make a strategy
Once you have reviewed the plan, it’s time to make a strategy for buying media. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, as each campaign requires a tailored strategy. Consider factors such as the budget, goals, frequency, cost, and timelines to make a comprehensive plan. Look into the target audience and the demographics you are targeting to devise a plan that will reach them. For example, if you target millennials, consider using social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat.
Consider which platforms and outlets best suit the campaign objectives and what content to reach the target audience. For instance, if your campaign focuses on creating brand awareness, consider using video or audio content to engage the audience.
Perform media research
Once you have a plan in place, it’s time to do some research. You can do your research while developing your strategy to save time. Look into the different media outlets available, their reach, and any upcoming trends for the campaign. Consider traditional and digital media platforms, such as television, radio, websites, newspapers, magazines, etc.
Consider media research and AI tools that can help you better understand the target audience and their behaviors. These tools will give you insights into the most suitable outlets for your campaign and the best time to launch it. For example, if you want to target college students, AI tools might recommend running your campaign on Snapchat or YouTube.
Send out RFPs
Once you have completed your research, it’s time to send requests for proposals (RFPs) to potential vendors. An RFP is a document that contains details about the campaign and what you are looking for. It should also specify a timeline for when you need the campaigns to be completed.
Your RFP should also include questions about the vendor’s experience, capabilities, and pricing. You can use this information to decide which vendors to work with and negotiate with. To maximize the success of your campaign, it’s important to select vendors that have experience and expertise in the media you are targeting.
To run RFPs efficiently, it’s important to be organized and have a system in place. Use media buying tools to streamline the process and make it easier to manage.
Finalize the schedule
Once you have selected the vendors, it’s time to finalize the media buying schedule. This includes the time, format, and content of the campaigns. You should have included all the accepted proposals from the RFP process in your Media Plan by now.
You will need the program name, vendor name, timelines, pricing, and other relevant information to complete placements.
Prepare insertion orders
After the schedule is complete, you need to create insertion orders for every campaign. Insertion order is a document between the advertiser and the media buying agency that outlines the terms and conditions of the campaign. Every IO is unique, depending on the campaign and vendor. The terms and conditions vary from vendor to vendor, so it’s important to negotiate a fair deal. Creating detailed insertion orders can help you avoid miscommunications down the line.
After preparing the insertion orders, send them to the vendors for approval. Once approved, you can launch your campaign and start tracking its performance.
Implement the campaign
Once you have finalized the insertion orders and received vendor approval, it’s time to kick off the campaign. To advertise through traditional media, send the ad materials to the vendors and verify their placement. For digital campaigns, upload your ads onto the platforms and set up tracking systems so you can monitor the performance.
Make sure to have a system for tracking and measuring performance and monitoring any potential changes you must make along the way.
Monitor the performance
To measure the success of your campaign, you can analyze data and track metrics. This will give you a better understanding of which channels are performing well and where you need to adjust your strategy. If your campaign is running on tv, radio, or print media, you will need to collect data manually. If it’s running on digital platforms, use tools like Google Analytics to track the performance.
Over time, you can identify which channels work best and make based on the data. This is an ongoing process, so adjust your strategy accordingly and monitor against the objectives you set in the beginning.
Reconcile spend and costs
While your campaign is running, keep track of all the media spending and associated costs. This includes any fees you’re paying to the vendors or additional expenses, such as production or creative costs. Check against your original budget to ensure you stay on track.
If any of your ads are underperforming, take an action. You may need to pause some ads and redirect your budget towards more successful channels.
By keeping track of your media buying costs and reconciling them frequently, you can ensure that you’re getting the best bang for your buck.
Report on the results
Campaign reporting is an important part of media buying. From the start of the campaign, you need to track and measure metrics to see if it’s performing as expected. Compile your data and insights into a report at the end of the campaign. This report should include all key performance indicators you tracked throughout the campaign. Use this report to improve your future campaigns and better understand how to reach your target audience.
Tips to succeed in media buying
Media buying can be tricky, but you can succeed with the right strategy and tactics. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your campaigns:
- Establish clear objectives: Know what you want to achieve before launching a campaign. It can help you create an effective media buying strategy and track the results more accurately.
- Automation: Automate processes as much as possible to save time and effort. This includes streamlining the insertion order creation process, setting up tracking systems, and monitoring performance.
- Use electronic signature tools: Electronic signature tools make collecting and storing vendor signatures easier. This eliminates the hassle of sending, signing, and tracking physical documents.
- Invest in a good project management system: A project management system can help you keep track of all the details, tasks, and deadlines for your campaigns. Tools can help you stay organized and on top of your media buying activity.
- Assign tracking IDs: Assign tracking IDs to each ad to make it easier to track performance. This will also make it easier to identify patterns and make necessary changes.
- Focus on quality over quantity: Quality is more important than quantity in media buying. Make sure you are in high-quality placements that deliver value to your business.
- Stay organized: Keep track of all costs and expenses associated with your campaign. Reconcile the spending frequently to make sure that you are not overspending.
How Does Digital Media Buying Work?
As the digital landscape continues to evolve, so does the process of digital media buying. Digital media buying is the process of purchasing ads on digital platforms, such as websites, apps, or social media networks. It’s a way to target your audience more precisely and get better campaign results. With digital media buying, you can target audiences based on location, demographics, interests, and more.
Advertisers typically use real-time bidding (RTB) to buy placement on digital media. This automated process allows advertisers to bid on available ad space in real time. The main parties involved in the real-time bidding process are the advertiser, demand-side platform (DSP), ad exchange, supply-side platform (SSP), and publisher.
Demand-side platform (DSP)
A demand-side platform (DSP) is a system that enables the buying of digital ads in real time. It stores the advertisements on its platform and allows advertisers to select the criteria for a given campaign, such as targeting specific demographics or locations. Furthermore, it allows advertisers to select the audience that they want to target, set a budget, and bid on ad space.
An ad exchange is a digital marketplace where advertisers can buy and sell digital ads in real-time. It’s an open auction-style platform where digital media buyers and sellers can negotiate prices and locate audiences. The main purpose of an ad exchange is to create a fair and transparent marketplace for buyers and sellers.
Supply-side platform (SSP)
A supply-side platform (SSP) is a system that allows publishers to sell digital advertising space on their websites and mobile apps. The SSP offers advertisers access to large amounts of inventory from multiple sources, such as app developers and websites. It enables publishers to better manage their inventory and optimize the revenue potential of their digital ad space.
Best Digital Media Buying Platforms
In digital media buying, there are a variety of platforms available. Some of the best digital media buying platforms include:
Google Display & Video 360
Google Display & Video 360 is a media buying platform with many features and capabilities. Advertisers can use it to create campaigns, manage audience and creative materials, examine their data, and get ad inventory from reputable publishers. It integrates with other Google products and services, such as DoubleClick Bid Manager, to make it easier for advertisers to manage their campaigns.
The Trade Desk
The Trade Desk is one of the leading media buying platforms in the industry. The platform provides access to top-market brands, allowing your ads to be seen by premium publishers, including Spotify, ESPN, Wall Street Journal, and more. Advertisers can also use the platform to precisely target their audiences and obtain real-time insights and optimization capabilities.
As Amazon is the world’s largest e-commerce platform, it’s no surprise that they offer a powerful media buying platform. With Amazon DSP, advertisers can advertise on all the Amazon-owned websites and apps, such as Amazon.com and IMDb, as well as other Amazon partners. Brand safety is their priority, as they pre-screen ads for objectionable content before approval.
Adobe Advertising Cloud
Just like Google Display & Video 360, Adobe Advertising Cloud is a comprehensive DSP that offers a variety of features and capabilities. Launched by Adobe in 2017, the platform enables easier collaboration between advertisers and publishers and access to a large amount of top-tier media inventory.
Pocketmath is a mobile app DSP that helps advertisers publish and optimize their campaigns. The platform offers advanced targeting capabilities like geolocation, device-level targeting, and real-time insights and reporting tools. Advertisers can also access high-quality mobile app inventory from reputable publishers.
Advidi is an affiliate marketing platform that offers a variety of features in over 100 countries. Real-time bidding is used to exchange ads and ad spaces between advertisers and publishers worldwide in the network. Their verticals include dating, online gaming, sweepstakes, and health & beauty.
Ad Colony is a mobile ad platform for both Android and iOS devices. Marketers can test the platform’s multiple video formats and placements, such as full-screen, interactive, banner, and interstitial, to determine which format performs best. AdColony has over 450 million app users, giving advertisers access to many potential customers.
Media Buying 101: Terms You Should Know
In media buying, there are many terms and concepts you should understand. Here are some of the most important ones:
CPM (Cost Per Thousand): CPM stands for Cost Per Thousand and is the advertising cost per 1,000 impressions.
Impressions (or Reach): Impressions refer to the number of times the audience sees an ad. In media buying, this metric measures the reach of an ad campaign.
Media mix: The media mix combines media used in ad campaigns, such as television, radio, print, and digital ads.
Target audience: The target audience is the group of people marketers are trying to reach with their ad campaigns.
Ad inventory: Ad inventory provides available space for ads on a website or platform.
Bid: A bid is an offer made by an advertiser to show an ad on a specific platform or website.
Net reach: Net reach is the total number of people an ad campaign reaches after considering the audience overlap between different platforms and websites.
Audience turnover: The rate at which an audience changes over time, meaning how frequently new people see an ad campaign.
Average Quarter-Hour Persons (AQH Persons): AQH persons are a metric used to measure the success of radio campaigns. To calculate it, take the total number of people who listen to a radio station for at least 5 minutes during an average quarter-hour period.
Avails: Avails refer to the available inventory of a publisher or platform’s ad slots.
Cost Per Point (CPP): CPP is the cost per rating point or the amount an advertiser pays to reach 1% of a given population.
Dayparting: It is the practice of scheduling an ad campaign during certain times of day or days of the week to reach a specific target audience.
Ad network: An ad network is a platform that connects advertisers to multiple publishers. This allows marketers to buy and place ads on different websites at once.
Banner ad: A banner ad is a graphical or text-based advertisement placed on a website or platform.
Click Through Rate (CTR): CTR is the rate at which someone clicks on an ad. It’s calculated by dividing the number of people who clicked on an ad by the total number of people who saw the ad.
Cost Per Click (CPC): CPC is the cost per click, which is the amount an advertiser pays for each person who clicks on their ad.
Media Buying FAQs
What is the difference between a publisher and an advertiser?
A publisher is someone who owns or controls a website, app, or online content where ads can be placed. An advertiser is someone who creates and pays for the ad being displayed on the publisher’s website.
Why is media buying important?
Media buying is an essential part of any successful advertising campaign. It’s important because it allows marketers to reach their target audience with the right message at the right time and on the right platform.
What are the types of media buying?
There are several types of media buying, including direct buying, network buying, and self-service buying. Direct buying involves an advertiser working directly with a publisher to purchase ad space, while network buying is when an advertiser works with a DSP or SSP to purchase ad space from multiple publishers simultaneously. Self-service buying is programmatic in-house buying, where an advertiser has everything they need to run campaigns on their own.