Media Buying – What It Is and Why It’s Important

Media Buying

A catchy slogan is not enough to make a marketing campaign successful. Your team must have strong, memorable messaging that resonates with your audience and can reach them at the right time and at the right price in order to create campaigns that increase marketing ROI.

What is media buying?

Media buying is an important part of paid marketing. It is the process of identifying and purchasing ad space on the most relevant channels to your target audience, at the best time, at the lowest cost. Media buying can be used for both traditional marketing channels (television and radio) as well as digital channels. This includes social media buying, websites, streaming, and other online channels. Media buyers can achieve maximum exposure to their target market with minimal spending if they do it well.

What does a media buyer do in marketing?

With input from the Media Planning team, media buyers manage the media buying process. Media buyers are able to purchase the advertising space after they have a good understanding of the marketing goals and preferences of their target audience. Negotiating with the networks and sites where the ads are to appear is an important part of the media buyer’s role. They need to ensure that they purchase the right placements at the right times and for the correct duration within a tight budget.

To ensure that the ad is in compliance with the agreement, and is reaching campaign goals, media buyers should also use Marketing Performance Tools.

Role of Media buying agencies

Media buying agencies’ functions include investment planning, communication maintenance, consultancy, technology provider/ facilitator, content publishing, and consulting. Technology plays an important role in the success of media agencies.

What’s the difference between media planning and media buying?

Although media planning and buying work together, their roles can be very different. Media planning is the first step. Based on this team’s conclusions and strategies, media buyers implement the media plan by placing the agreed-upon ads on the appropriate channels.

Media Planning

Media planning involves establishing an audience, conducting market research and setting goals. Media planners work closely with clients to identify the target audience for their offering. They also determine which channels and when they use them. Then, they decide what kind of messaging to use. The planning team will use this information to determine which channel and at what price they would like to buy ad space.

Media Buying

Once the media plan is established, media buyers can connect with their counterparts on the agreed-upon media sites. These executives are usually sales or account executives. Their responsibility is to find the right advertisers. These two parties negotiate the placement, time and cost. These are some of the most common tactics used by media buyers to execute media plans.

  • Manual bidding: Bidding for ad space and managing bids through an ad platform like AdWords.
  • Programmatic Buys: AI & algorithms enable real-time bidding for ad space that matches consumer profiles (e.g. Fashion designers can leverage a platform that automatically places ads on fashion-oriented channels and bids on them.
  • Direct buying: When a media buyer negotiates rates and run times for a particular advertiser (e.g. Fashion designers work directly with Vogue to place advertisements on their website/magazine.

Why media buying is important

Media buying is more than just the transaction of money to buy ad space. Effective online media buying can help you reach more people with less investment by building relationships with media owners. This allows marketing teams to increase conversions, and show high ROI to clients and stakeholders.

There are several key benefits to using a media buying team that is experienced and has a proven process.

Get the best deal

Many media buyers have access to a large network of contacts that they can use to maximize your investment. Media buying professionals are familiar with negotiation techniques and industry standards such as brand exposure or the average cost for leads. An agreement can also be extended by media buyers. Advertising terms such as “value-added” and “added value”, refer to impressions or ad space that is included in an agreement. Experiential media buyers are able to negotiate prices to increase reach and frequency. They can also get value added to media channels they have previously worked with.

Play the best slots

Media buyers know where advertising dollars should go and what placements get the most attention. Media buyers keep track of global trends and political campaigns that could impact ad availability. They can negotiate placements directly into contracts to ensure ads are delivered on time.

Plan campaigns with best practices

Media buyers know which strategies are most likely to convert (for instance, placing ads at a specific time of the day). Media buyers are familiar with working across channels and publishers. They can use the best practices from previous campaigns to negotiate ad placements that maximize returns.

Challenges of media buying

Investment in media buying processes and experienced teams is a way to demonstrate value. Media buying teams must have analytical capabilities to be able to attribute conversions or KPIs to specific ads. To make in-campaign adjustments to ads that are not performing, they need real time metrics. Media buying is a complex task.

Marketing measurement

Media buyers need to know which campaigns are successful before they spend media dollars. This will allow them to allocate budgets more efficiently. Many companies have difficulty applying an attribution model that accurately reflects their entire media collection. It is difficult to determine if a particular ad placement performed as expected, thus triggering a specific conversion.

Optimize campaign in-flight

Optimizing ads mid-campaign is another challenge for media buyers. Marketing results are often not available until after the campaign has ended, which makes it difficult to adjust advertising spending. Marketing teams need to invest in marketing platforms that have the processing power to provide granular insights on campaign performance.

Avoiding Ad fraud

Ad fraud is when an organization has to pay more to place an ad on a fraudulent website or for clicks/impressions generated by bots or click farms. This is particularly prevalent in programmatic advertising. While programmatic advertising media buying is beneficial for real-time placements, it can also lead to ad fraud because there is a little review of the websites where ads are purchased. This can result in mismanaged dollars.

Clear contracts

Media buying can present another challenge when it comes to contract negotiations. To ensure that specific expectations are met, online media buyers must make sure everything is clearly stated in the contract. If an advertiser wants only to target leads within the US, it should be stated clearly. Companies could waste money on target audiences that don’t suit their needs if this step is not taken.

How to negotiate media buys

A media buyer’s most important role is that of the negotiator. This ensures clients get the best value for their ad space. This involves working with media companies to leverage best practices and develop specific contracts. These are some negotiating tips that media buyers should remember when executing media buying strategies.

Do your research

Research is more than just part of media planning. You should be an expert in all factors that can impact the success of each campaign.

  • What does it usually cost to hire leads in your industry?
  • How much do standard advertising placements cost on different sites?
  • What type of ads and display sizes are best? Which ads perform best on certain sites?

How much are you willing to spend

Start each negotiation by preparing a detailed budget plan and indicating where you are willing to allow for premium spots. Be sure to answer the following questions before you begin negotiations:

  • How much do you have to spend?
  • How can you make the most of your budget?
  • Do you have any publications you would be willing to spend more money on based on past results, or target audiences?

Get a backup plan

A backup plan is the strongest tool in any negotiation. You may find a publisher or network you want to work with but they are full or beyond your budget. To ensure quick solutions to any unforeseen buying issues, media buyers must always have other options. Know when you are willing and able to compromise and be open to exploring other options. This will give you more leverage in negotiations for price or placement.

Create an anchor

Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahnemann said that initial estimates are based on an anchor. This means that prices can be influenced by the user’s first encounter with the product. It is possible that homeowners from different states might have different anchoring points. Even if the homeowner is from New York, a New Yorker will often be willing to spend more to buy a home than one in Florida. This principle can help you when negotiating. This should not be your first offer if you want to target a campaign that costs $100 per lead. You should aim for a lower price so publishers can negotiate.

Lead generation

Before you start the negotiations, make sure to consider all filters that you want on your leads. These filters may not be possible to adjust after negotiations.

Negotiate value add-ons

When negotiating, ask for value-added features. These could be banner ads for an email campaign or extra airings of a radio advertisement. This will increase your exposure and help you to keep your budget in check.

Get It in writing

Like with everything, make sure you include what you’ve negotiated in the contract. Media buyers will need to be able to point to a set of agreed-upon expectations if their account director is absent or emails are lost.

Types of negotiations

There are two types of negotiation strategies, but integrative negotiations are the most common in digital media buying.

  • Zero-Sum Negotiations (Zero-Sum): These negotiations are where one or both of the parties is unwilling to compromise on an agreement. This negotiation style, which is often seen on TV and film, can cause serious damage to the relationship between the media company and the parties.
  • Integrative Negotiations: Both sides work together to reach a compromise and get a deal that aligns with their goals. This negotiation tactic is often the most successful, as media buying services are built on relationships.

What are factors to consider when you negotiate media buys?

Advertisers have many options for buying space, and there are different ways to make those purchases. Each channel has its own best practices. Take a look at the following:

Programmatic/Direct buy

Programmatic advertising refers to a media buying process that uses technology such as AI to automate and optimize media purchases. These purchases are often made via channels such as Facebook and Google. This type of media buying is more focused on the persona than the media. It asks “who are you trying to reach?” rather than “where do you want media to be placed?” Programmatic media buys function like an instant silent auction. You simply select the target audience, specify how much you would like to pay per impression or click, and then provide the advertisement that you wish to show. The AI will do all the rest.

Ad Placement for TV

Purchase Television advertising space This usually takes place during an upfront season when networks pitch media buyers about the benefits of purchasing their time on their network. This usually takes place in in-person meetings.

When buying ads for TV, Make sure you negotiate with your TV advertiser that your ad will not be moved beyond the agreed-upon time. This is why it is important to keep track of current events. If a political campaign is taking place, your ads could be bumped by candidates even if they have cost more. Commercial time is always at the lowest rate for candidates.

Radio placement

Radio ads can be a great way to reach local audiences for media buyers.If you are looking to purchase radio advertising time, make sure that it airs before or after the commercial break. Listeners are more likely to tune out of radio stations during commercial breaks.


Billboards and billboards are one-way out-of-home ads can reach people. This is a great way for you to reach people in your day-to-day life.

Reebok, for example, set up an outside-of-home campaign to see if pedestrians could run fast enough. A free pair of shoes could be given to any pedestrian who runs past the advertisement at speeds greater than 17km/h.

Last Thoughts – Media buying

Media buying advertising is complex. There are many pressures to get the best ad placement to provide the best customer experience. Media teams can improve their strategy and spending by staying on top of the latest media buying strategies.

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