What is Media Buying? A Guide to Media Buying in 3 Steps

When it comes to digital marketing and marketing as a whole, there is much more going on behind the scenes than one might initially imagine, with media buying being just one single element of a broader all-encompassing branding strategy.

In the increasingly competitive eCommerce landscape, it’s simply not enough to have a clever slogan or a catchy jingle to keep your target audience’s attention and brand loyalty.

Nowadays, it takes a much stronger commitment and dedicated resources to construct a sharp, well-executed marketing strategy that consumers can engage with across multiple platforms.

In other words, there’s much more to driving a successful business than having a desirable or trendy product. 

Now more than ever, consumers are far more concerned with brands having a message that resonates and aligns with their values on top of purchasing a product they want. Of course, it also has to be cheap and arrive fast.

See what we mean? There’s a lot to consider!

More often than not, a successful strategy consists of both paid and unpaid elements. 

In this way, media buying can be an excellent stepping stone to solidify a place for your brand, legitimize your product or service and efficiently and effectively reach your target audience.

Today, we will be covering the fundamentals that every business owner should know about media buying, including:

What is Media Buying?

media buying guide

Essentially, media buying is a strategy employed during paid marketing initiatives. It’s typically coupled with another dedicated process called media planning.

Media planning is specifically the process of gaining the necessary context from both internal and external standpoints to execute a marketing strategy effectively. In other words, this step concentrates on conducting a substantial amount of market research. 

The internal aspect reflects the marketing campaign’s key objectives and goals and identifies the target audience. 

Meanwhile, the external element involves understanding the market at large, researching industry trends, assessing competition and finding out where the target audience most regularly engages with ad content.

Essentially, the media planning stage is where businesses gain insight into their target audience’s behaviours, information resources, the specific products they are interested in and why and the various media channels they access throughout the day.

As a business owner, media buying and planning’s ultimate objective is to purchase ad space across multiple media channels that are the most highly-frequented by your target audience at the optimal time for the lowest cost.

In simpler terms, media buying is the practice of negotiating and buying ideal ad space at a good time to bring attention to your brand when viewers (your target audience) are most likely to see it.

Its reach extends to all media forms, from more traditional media, such as newspapers, magazines, television and radio, to more modern digital media platforms, including social media, websites and streaming services.

When executed successfully, media planning and buying achieve substantial brand exposure while reaching your target audience across multiple media avenues. All for the lowest cost.

As you can likely assume, this process can be complicated with multiple moving parts constantly on the go. For this reason, many businesses outsource this service and bring in certified experts, known as media buyers, from media buying agencies to hunt down the best ad placements for the lowest price.

A paid media campaign can be the catalyst for increased site traffic, boosted engagement, and higher conversion rates. Learn more about How to Start a Paid Media Campaign for eCommerce Growth.”

Why is this Approach Important?

If you’re thinking that the media buying process only goes as far as paying for ad placement and having your brand’s name strewn across various media outlets, you’d be mistaken. It satisfies multiple needs across your business and can serve as a valuable educational resource.

Firstly, the very act of seeking out different outlets and negotiating with individual teams can establish meaningful and impactful relationships with various media owners that require less investment while obtaining greater reach.

These relationships allow your business to boost conversion rates and display a higher return of investment (ROI) to clients and stakeholders.

Suppose you choose to enlist the services of professional media buyers, specifically. In that case, it can introduce you and your business to a vast network of potential partnerships while gaining valuable insights into the art of negotiation and broader industry standards.

Thus, in making this one connection, you are opening the door to countless potential others.

Furthermore, gaining a firmer grasp on how media buying works also helps you achieve a deeper understanding of how best to spend your marketing funds more strategically. The market research conducted yourself or by media planners helps provide context for the most optimal times for engagement and when best to place your ads.

For example, if there are significant occasions on the horizon, such as an election or a massive sporting event, these external factors may significantly influence ad availability and costs. This foresight allows you to negotiate an ad placement in advance to ensure it’s timely and relevant.

On a smaller scale, even if there isn’t a significant event taking place, media buyers are a valuable resource for understanding the most effective strategies that will lead to conversions. This knowledge includes having experience with the best time of day to post an ad and what strategy would work best with each specific platform. The latter being especially useful when it comes to digital media. 

Ultimately, the media buying process is far more calculated than simply buying ad space.

Buying media is a great marketing strategy, but developing owned media is not only cheap, but it’s also incredibly effective. Here’s Why Owned Media Should be Your Marketing Focus (and How to Develop a Solid Strategy).”

What’s the Process?

Essentially, media buying is the process of translating the insights and information obtained through media planning into a visible marketing campaign. In other words, it’s the culmination of the extensive research and hard work finally coming together into a calculated albeit enticing ad!

From there, all you need to do is convince the various media outlets to run it, which, of course, is easier said than done. 

While your ad going live can be a nerve-wracking experience, it’s also accompanied by a rush of adrenaline and excitement.

That said, let’s take a step back and examine what the media buying process looks like:

Establishing Relationships

To occupy ad space, you have to get your foot in the door. Typically, this comes in the form of establishing relationships with media vendors.

Whether you do so directly or through the middle man of media buyers, this introduction is a crucial first step into advocating why these media platforms should choose your brand above all the rest. With the abundance of technological resources currently at our disposal, meeting and communicating with people has never been easier or more accessible.

So, regardless of how you do it, get talking!

Negotiating & Buying

Once you’ve progressed through the standard introductions and pleasantries, it’s time to get down to business.

Multiple elements can impact the overall cost of a particular ad space. Two of the most common influences are traffic and exposure. This stage is when you show that you’ve done your homework and can illustrate the potential traffic that your ad will generate.

After all, it is a business interaction. The media vendors will want to cut to the chase and learn what’s in it for them. Ultimately, it’s your or the media buyer’s job to secure the ad space, prove the value you can bring and obtain the ad spot for the lowest cost.

Monitoring & Optimizing Ad Performance

Once everyone has agreed on a fair price and the ad placement is officially purchased, then the real fun begins!

This stage is when you or the media buyer will diligently watch the ads throughout their campaign cycle and make sure they are being optimized to reach target audiences seamlessly across the various platforms.

If it comes to light that things aren’t working as planned, then it’s time to alter and adapt. Consistently monitoring your ad for the various potential ebbs and flows allows you to make the most of your marketing investment.

Keeping a close eye also grants an increased amount of time to promptly optimize them if there is a dip in views, engagement or conversions to ensure the best possible performance and best bang for your buck.

Writing down your goals can help you earn up to 10 TIMES more in salary. Read more in Why Writing Down Your Goals is the Key to Accomplishing Them.”

Key Takeaways on Media Buying

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, marketing is far more than just spending money to make money! There are countless considerations to account for to ensure that your brand’s overall marketing strategy is not only compelling but effective.

Media buying is an incredibly valuable revenue-generating stream on top of being a beneficial educational resource with lessons extending far beyond the realm of one single campaign.

While conversions are the primary objective, the media buying process itself can be a practical tool for establishing meaningful relationships for future endeavours.

It’s also an efficient and effective way to reach your target audience, boost engagement and, of course, drive profits!

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Written By Emily Rumball

A Content Writer at Advesa, Emily is a self-proclaimed tea addict (her favourite being a nice, strong English Breakfast), animal lover, and eager traveller. When she isn't jet-setting off to the next far off destination, she enjoys spending quality time at home in Vancouver.