Media Buying and Placement

Media planning and buying is finding the correct balance of simplicity in the details. In a nutshell, sending a message to the target audience includes the right delivery under cost constraints, solid research, and reliable evaluating tools and the latter elements are all part and parcel of media planning and buying. There are various practices that will help a company deliver their product and message to the audience. The key to effective media planning and buying is choosing the right chemistry from these tools to get your brand across.

1. Being an In-House Media Buyer

Small businesses who want to break their product into the market buy competitive advertising spots. With an ever-increasing number of media outlets spurred by new technologies and practices, evaluating the effectiveness of your advertising campaign can be very complicated. If your company does not have the capacity to produce a media buying department, there are media buying agencies and freelance media buying professionals that you can employ to purchase your ad time and space.

If you choose to go the in-house route, there are several pointers that you can follow. First, realize the magnitude of the task. A media buying process requires patience, analytical skills, number crunching ability and effective communication skills. As you prepare for you media buying pitch, you should be able to define your target audience to the most relevant details.

While you may have the assumption that conventional media can give you the most impact, there are other media outlets left untapped that might be effective to your media planning campaign. Consider media alternatives such as the internet, cable TV, bus ads, and circulars. Not every media outlet is appropriate to your business model or target audience. Furthermore, each media outlet represents a different landscape that may or may not work for you.

2. The Bare-Bones Function of Media Buyers

Media buying and planning is a specialized skill. Effective media buyers have to delve into the complications of statistics while having the gut to make critical decisions. Reliable research is the first key in ad buying. Choosing the right set of data is prerequisite to sound analysis and strategies in your media planning. Media buyers cannot act on their strategies if they are not confident with their research data.

Once the media planning process takes effect media buyers work on two things. These are scheduling, and actual placement of the advertisements. The time-space principles in media management are not simply a "choose and match practice." Effective media buyers have the knack for capturing the moment and working on their ad timing.

While an in-house media buying process may determine their data, media plan, ad placement, and timing, professional media buyers are still preferred because of their negotiation skills. Knowing the inner workings of the industries and having established contacts to get the best deal possible does not happen overnight. Upon successful negotiations and payment, the media strategy is reviewed and evaluated for impact.

3. Drawing the Landscape of Different Media Outlets

As a media buyer, selecting the right form of media outlet for your product involves knowing the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Newspapers have an established audience (readers stick to their routine paper), deliver a sense of immediate need, have flexibility in advertisement schedule, allow advertisers to tackle the message in depth, and can have ads placed on appropriate sections. However, they have limited demographic impact, are less stimulating than other media forms, and have a short shelf life.

Radio is a localized form of media that targets a specific geography. The message can pass through mobile forms such as podcasts, cars, home, and schools. Radio is also a more personal form since the audience usually relies on their favorite disk jockey or news reporter. In addition radio advertisements have less production costs. Television advertisements are visually stimulating, have higher reach capability, and can target a very specific audience from a wide audience segment if done correctly.

Outdoor media such as billboards and streamers has a broad reach with its 24/7 exposure, can be strategically placed for geographic impact, and can be altered so that the message is localized. The down side of outdoor media includes stripped down message, high production cost, longer lag time, and inflexibility in terms of editing or making copy changes.

4. Media Buying Tips on the Go

There are many media buying tips that you can apply in every step of the process. In-house advertising department who do not have a particular edge in media buying should know enough not to accept statistics at face value. Statistics is more effective when they are compared with alternative media outlets. For small companies, targeting your market is more important. Acquiring small circulation that effectively hits on your target audience is better than hitting a large number of people. Media buying is analogous to hitting darts whereas every aim should have a purpose.

Remember that different media forms have different audiences. Cable TV, radio, and magazines aim on target audiences better than television and newspapers. However, you have to assess your media buying strategies in considering a media outlet. Television and newspapers can be used for specific demographics with the right ad timing and placement while you may not be as effective with Cable TV and magazines if you do not follow sound time-space principles. Choosing your media is just the beginning of an effective strategy.

5. Working on Lasting Impression

The goal of media buyers is to reach the target viewers in acceptable frequency to make a lasting impression. Consumers must be aware of the product first before generating interest, make a decision, and take an action on the product. Among the facets of consumer behavior, awareness is heavily shouldered on the side of media buyers and strategist. The target audience may need to see your ad several times to be aware of the company or the service that you offer. To create interest, the customer might have to be exposed to more piercing media forms that will allow your product to be placed in their consciousness. As an example, reading the best offers of blu-ray players in a gaming magazine may generate awareness, but a positive review from his trusted gaming community will generate interest. Usually, a combination of different media that plays around with the experience users leads your market to make a faster action on your product.

The size and length of the commercial should be based on the time or space needed to deliver the message. While one can arrive at the frequency, size, and scheduling, the equation is restricted by cost. Therefore, getting effective ad to fit on a limited space and time is the difference between thousand dollar deviations in the budget.

6. Negotiating for the Best Prices

Media buyers and agencies should be master budgeters. Ad placement projects have limited funds put in and bigger funding means larger expectation from media buyers. Ensuring that every penny is used effectively involves minimal wastes on every step of the media placing process.

If you are in negotiations with station sales representatives, listen to their media packages in the market. Since they have first-hand knowledge on what works and what does not work, the advice of sales representatives can be helpful in your decision. However, you are best served if you hire a media planner who can assess these packages and make an assessment. Remember that station reps do not work for you as much as they work for their station. Do not let them convince you to buy a package without looking at the offer yourself.

For broadcast TV, ask the station representative for the latest TV ratings in their quotes. There are TV rating agencies subscribed by stations such as Nielsen ratings. Again, do not take these ratings at face value as there are various reasons why these figures are arrived at. Usually, TV ratings are correlated to the price on that time slot (primetime vs. daytime), but you also have to determine if the marginal increase in price can justify the increase in target viewer audience

7. Online Media Buying

Media buyers have to tackle a more interactive landscape with online media. Termed as the new media, the internet is a platform for media buyers that is relatively unpredictable than other media outlets. As an example, video content may be the hottest thing in one year but by the time the media strategy takes effect, the internet takes on another form. However, there are facets in internet marketing that are constants such as search engine optimization. In this regard, search engine marketers and media buyers are collaborating in online advertising campaigns.

Small companies sometime rely on search engine specialists to get their product in the internet. However, the skills of a media buyer are essential since they usually have a better read on off line consumer behavior. Professionals with the rare skill of understanding consumer behavior in and out of the internet usually have an idea how to reach the target audience and translating page views and impressions for consumers to pick up their phone and buy the product.

Today, internet marketers rely on consumer-generated medium. This medium gives once faceless companies a personality since they are reviewed by the online consumer mass. Marketing campaigns such as blogs, discussion forums, consumer reviews, and video content are more interactive than conventional media. These interactive mediums are harder to study and control, but they top out as the most effective forms in terms of converting consumer awareness to consumer action.

8. Online Media Buying Companies

Choosing a media buyer for online marketing holds the same principles as conventional media placement. Media buying agencies should have the ability to define your target audience and have the proper tools to measure if the audience is reached. Online media is inherently cheaper than conventional media. Realizing these savings to have some reinvested to more online media campaigns can be very valuable. Therefore, cost should not be taken for granted.

Online media buying agencies should understand two things; namely, advertising and the internet. Most will claim full experience of both realms, but they can be too different for media buyers to falsely assume that since they are great at advertising, they can take on the internet and vice-versa. For this, your best friend is studying the media buyer's track record and experience in handling online advertising. It is also advised to have a crash course on how internet media works before selecting a media agency so that you have a better idea what works and what does not work. Start with knowing how consumers may reach your ads then explore how consumers can be targeted geographically and demographically. Do you want to stimulate a direct response from customers or do you want to establish a brand online? Having solid knowledge on online marketing will allow you to evaluate the numbers and assess if the marketing plan is effective for your company.

9. Choosing a Media Agency

Media agencies can be very similar in some instances that are hard to select the best media agency for you. If you are tasked to choose a media buyer, it is wise to look at their approach on their working relationship with your company. Excellent media buyers usually establish your return of investments and take an active part in refining these figures rather than letting you figure it out. Concentrate on the numbers instead on the rhetoric. While it is good to ask if your brand presents a positive spin to the consumers, the more telling question is if the brand actually makes the consumers buy. A media agency who dabbles on ideas without discussing the numbers is not approaching the campaign the right way.

Media agencies should also sell you into loving them or hating them. While this may be a black and white assessment, having a clear choice involves committing on their objectives. It is hard to differentiate one good agency from another since they have the same sales lines. Media companies should also be very effective in communicating their plans to you. You should have an eye on what part of their message is getting your plan done or just random advertising to position themselves.

As an ad manager if you believe you have the right product and the right message, effective media buying is an equally important task and should not be discounted. It is your choice if you can simplify or complicate things. In media planning, simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.
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