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What is media buying, and how can a professional buyer help?

Laura Partridge

Media buying is the purchase of advertising space from a company operating media properties, which may be television stations, cable companies, newspapers, radio broadcast groups, magazines, billboard companies, Web sites, Web site networks, or any other company that owns and produces a means of communication.

A media buyer evaluates all advertising options, looking for opportunities that will most effectively and efficiently reach advertisers’ target audiences. This requires understanding the media consumption behaviors of potential customers. For example: Do your customers read newspapers? Or do your customers get their news on their mobile phones, by listening to news radio, or from television? What genre of music do they listen to? When do they watch television? What magazines do they read? Do they read the print version or the digital version? What websites do they use? What signage do they drive by? An agency will provide research, layered with format and rating analysis, so that these and similar questions are answered with data, rather than best guesses or assumptions.

Planning an effective, cost-efficient campaign to achieve company objectives requires a thorough awareness of all of the options available, an understanding of the strengths of each, how to buy and flight campaigns for the greatest impact, and how to negotiate incremental exposure. Where you want to advertise, what time the ads should run, and the size and duration of the campaign are all factors that affect the cost of the media. Each media outlet is negotiated differently, and getting the best rates and most value for your budget requires expertise. Are you trying to advertise around the time of an election or during major sporting events when available inventory will be low? Did you go for the lowest rates only to find your ads running at 3 a.m? Are you getting the best rates on your online and mobile advertising for the sites you want to run on? Do you know what you should be paying?

By evaluating your available marketing budget, your campaign objectives, your previous successes, and your metrics for success, a media buyer will design an advertising campaign to reach your potential customers. Your media strategy may include an outline for your fiscal year, so that the planning and budget is thoughtfully evaluated to meet the specific objectives of the campaign within given timelines.

In today’s day and age, there is more media than ever before. Reaching a captive audience is an increasing challenge. Developing a media plan not only entails calculating reach and frequency of messaging to the specific audience, but also creating points of engagement and opportunities to interact with your brand. Not all opportunities are on a rate card. Strategic media buying requires creative thinking and artful negotiations.

Of course, once the strategy is in place and a media plan has been developed to achieve stated objectives, the advertising needs to get purchased, requiring negotiations and contracts, and the ads need to actually run. An agency will provide you with a production timeline and then traffic the ads to media outlets on schedule. Advertising is monitored, performance is analyzed, and optimizations are made. Regular reports are provided, presenting the value received. These presentations allow you to gauge success against the predetermined metrics and continue to fine-tune your strategy moving forward.

Your media buyer is essentially responsible for your brand exposure, ensuring your advertising message reaches your potential customers. Effective media buying means less waste and more brand engagement, and ultimately, more customers.

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Laura Partridge is president of Creative Concepts Media + Marketing. Contact her through http://www.creativeconceptsmedia.net.