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The Ultimate Guide to Buying Media

So you want to learn about the paid advertising media industry – brands, agencies, publishers and, importantly, buying media? Then you’ve come to the right place.

This post focused on digital media buying, the prevalent form of advertising today. We also cover some offline media buying aspects.

So, how do you buy media to generate sales and increase brand awareness?

You might be thinking that it can’t be that complicated. The truth is there are many aspects of buying media, whether you are a brand or a media buying agency that is looking to purchase advertising space. Over the past few years, the media landscape has shifted significantly, and the process has changed massively.

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What is media buying? 

It is the process of purchasing ad space in order to reach a targeted audience, with the aim of promoting a brand organsation or business. This applies to both offline or digital media. The person responsible is known as a media buyer.

What is a media buyer?

Media buyers are professionals who look after the buying of advertising. Their role will depend on their seniority, from managing budgets and developing strategies to negotiating rates with ad publishers and researching new opportunities for clients.

They are the driving force behind the planning and executing media campaigns, ensuring ads reach their intended audiences.

Why do companies choose to do media buying?

The basic idea behind buying media is to generate sales and brand awareness; this is done by delivering a targeted advertising message.

The ad message’s goal is to change perception and ultimately persuade potential customers to buy your product or use your service.

What are some of the common objectives of buying media?

There can be various objectives when it comes to media buying. The most common ones are:

  • Generating leads or sales
  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Building a database of customers/subscribers
  • Driving website traffic
  • Generating word of mouth or social media buzz
  • Increasing customer engagement
  • Attracting new customers
  • Reinforcing brand positioning
  • Expanding geographically

It’s important to remember that the objectives of a campaign will vary depending on the company and what they are hoping to achieve. However, most companies want a mix of the above objectives.

What are some of the things a buyer should consider when planning a buy?

The process of media buying usually begins with developing a creative brief by the client. This document will outline what they want to achieve and provide some basic information about their target customer.

From there, the media buyer in a media buying agency will put together a plan which includes selecting the right channels/media, negotiating rates and securing ad space.

The campaign then needs to be executed, and the buyer will need to continuously analyse performance in order to make necessary insight-driven changes based on data analysis.

6 Steps of Media Buying - Advant Technology

6 steps to the media buying process

Planning and strategising

The first step in the media buying process is planning and strategising. This is where the buyer develops a media plan for the client, outlining what they are looking to achieve. The media plan should address the target audience across different media outlets to maxmise return on investment against the marketing objectives.

Bidding and negotiating

The second step is bidding and negotiating. The media buying agency puts together a plan to select channels/media, negotiate rates with publishers or ad networks (or both) and secure ad space.

It might involve applying special discounts for larger ad spend. It can also include looking at the technical specifications of ad space, such as page layout if the ad placement is print or file size if the creative needs to be delivered digitally.

Today most buying of media is done digitally, so the bidding is done in a live auction in real-time against other advertisers, called real-time bidding in programmatic advertising.

Executing the campaign

The third step is to execute the campaign. Where an ad creative is either provided to the publisher or the ad is purchased through technology if it is a digital media buy, which is the case in programmatic media buys.

The buyer needs to ensure that ads are being seen by target customers and that tracking is in place to monitor how effective the campaign is.

Measuring results

The fourth step is measuring results, which is key to any successful media buying campaign. From a digital perspective, the buyer needs to look at things like click-through rates (CTRs), viewability, reach, impressions, conversion rates, leads generated and sales closed due to the advertising. This information can then be used to adjust the campaign for future buys.

Refining the plan

The fifth step is refining the plan, where necessary. If results from a particular media buy are not as good as expected, the buyer needs to go back to the drawing board and tweak the plan accordingly. This might involve changing the target audience, altering the creative or switching to a different media type.

Reporting to the client

The sixth and final step is reporting to the client. This is only relevant if a media buying agency conducts the purchase of the advertising campaign. The buyer needs to provide detailed insights into what worked and what didn’t so that future campaigns can be improved.

Obviously, no client reporting is required for brands that have an in-house team.

Programmatic vs Direct Media Buying - Advant Technology

Direct vs programmatic media buying

In traditional media, buying everything is done directly, meaning a one-to-one relationship between the buyer and seller. In today’s digital programmatic world, new media buying platforms help streamline the media buying process. 

Let’s take a look at the two; direct vs programmatic. Media planners and buyers can buy directly from publishers/ media owners or use programmatic media buying technology.

Direct media buying is when the ad buyer contacts a publisher, negotiates rates and secures space for an advertisement. Direct media buys are still done for many offline media channels such as print, TV and out of home.

Programmatic buying on the other hand involves using real-time bidding (RTB) to purchase advertising inventory through automated systems that connect advertisers with multiple publishers at the same time. 

This is done through a DSP, aka a demand-side platform. DSPs are complex technologies, so it’s often best left to a programmatic specialist agency that employs experienced media buyers and ad operations teams who can use the technology properly. Programmatic media buying has increased in popularity because it allows for more precision in targeting, thanks to the use of data. With greater precision in reaching target audiences, advertisers are able to increase engagement rates and decrease the cost per acquisition.

What is the difference between media planning and buying?

A media planning team is responsible for putting together a media plan which, as we know, is a blueprint for a successful advertising campaign. They focus on the strategy side of things and consider the target audience, message, and creative factors.

Media buying teams are responsible for purchasing media space or time to run an ad across different channels such as TV, print and digital. They are focused on the execution side of things.

How to achieve the best ROI when media buying

Building an effective media buying strategy requires a good media planner, someone who can look at the marketing objectives and campaign goals as a whole. This is the work of an agency.

They’ll have excellent knowledge of the media landscape and understand how different channels can work in harmony. For example, how to use search, social and programmatic and even direct media buys to deliver the best campaign performance. At Advant Technology, we focus on digital media because we know it works and is fully trackable, unlike offline, which is harder to quantify.

Should I use a media agency or build an in house marketing team?

This is a question that can only be answered by taking into account the specific needs of the business in question.

An external media agency will bring expertise that could be hard to achieve internally. However, an in-house team can be more cost-effective and have a better understanding of the company’s culture. 

The best way to decide is to weigh up the pros and cons of both options. Consider the steps in how to choose an agency in order to help you answer this question.

Whether negotiating traditional or buying digital media through programmatic, media buying is complex and to buy the right ad space at the right price, an expert team will always stand you in good stead. Media buyer experts aren’t easy to come by, so working with an advertising media agency will most likely help to achieve better results than an in-house team.

We hope you learnt lots about the advertising and media industry in this post and if you need help with a campaign launch and achieving your marketing goals, don’t be afraid to reach out!


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