Guide to Media Buying 101


Some of us watch the Super Bowl for the game, and some of us watch for the commercials. The advertisers paid a lot to get them in front of Super Bowl viewers. How did it get there, and who made the decision?

A media buyer no doubt analyzed who the target audience should be for the brand, then determined the budget and placement. In this instance, the message is placed in front of hundreds of millions of viewers so the visibility and reflected glamor of the environment are part of the package.

Media buying utilizes paid advertising on broadcast, print, and digital channels to reach the right consumers with the right message. Planning a media buy involves strategy, and doing the actual buying often involves negotiation skills.

The first step is to know your goal. Is it awareness? Increased sales? Social engagement?

The second step is to determine your target audience. Who is most likely to be interested in your brand, and where can you find them? Are they spending their time online, are they your current customers, are they prospective customers visiting relevant websites? Do they work in certain locations you can target?.

When should you reach them? Is there an optimal time of day, for example, when they are leaving for lunch for a food-related client, or leaving work?

The next step is to know your budget.  Skilled media buyers purchase ad space for the least amount of money possible to achieve the goal of reaching the right target audience at the right time. A media buyer can often negotiate value-added extras that are included at no additional cost.

Advertising can also be bought using programmatic buys, technology that automates media buys. Determine who you want to target and how much you want to pay per click or impression, provide the ad and the rest of the work is done for you.

Tracking results is critical: what’s performing, what’s not.

Finally, buyers use predictive analytics to stay on top of future trends and behaviors. They use past purchases, behavior and demographic data to predict future sales.

The right message is critical, but putting it in front of the right people at the right time is the bottom line to success.