What is Media Buying & How to Make it Work

Does media buying sound complicated to you? If it does, I assure you it isn’t. In this article, we will learn what media buying is, and all the steps required to get started.

What Is Media Buying?

According to Investopedia, media buying is the purchase of advertising from a media company such as a television station, newspaper, magazine, blog or website. It also entails the negotiation for price and placement of ads, as well as research into the best new venues for ad placement.

It falls into the paid media category and generally means the acquisition of choice media space and time for displaying ad creatives.

The goal of media buying is to find the right place, time and context to deliver useful ads to your target market and in so doing increase conversion rates, sales or brand awareness.

Time plays a vital role in media buying. A buyer buys ad space for a specific time period.

Benefits Of Media Buying

The following are the benefits of working with media buying agencies.
You spend less on your media buys: You get better deals when you work with media agencies because of the media clout and relationship media agencies maintain with media owners they have worked with.
Expertise Gain: Media agencies are quite experienced in buying media. Their expertise includes clients’ budget optimization and media acquisition.
Efficiency: Media agencies have access to many tools that enable them to deliver more efficiently.

Who Is the Media Buyer?

Before we take a look at the media buying process, we first have to know who a media buyer is.
A media buyer is someone who deals with the acquisition of advertising space in print, outdoor, television and radio broadcasting, magazines, billboards and online outlets, such as websites. They usually work for an advertising agency.

How Digital Media Buying Works

Digital media buying is the process of buying placements for advertisements on websites, apps, and other digital platforms.

Advertisers usually use real-time bidding to purchase advertising space on publishers’ websites. Real-time bidding allows website owners to sell ad impressions (views) through an advertising platform. Each impression is sold as it becomes available, in real time.

The introduction of real-time bidding has completely changed the way publishers and advertisers buy and sell display advertising.

Components Of Real-Time Bidding

The following components make up real-time bidding:
The Advertiser who buys advertisement on a website.
The Demand Side Platform is a tool that handles the purchasing of online advertisement on behalf of advertisers.
The Ad Exchange is the marketplace that connects advertisers and publishers. The ad exchange facilitates the purchase of display ads in real time through auctions.
The Supply Side Platform helps publishers to better manage and sell their ad inventory.
The Publisher is the owner of the website advertisement is sold on.
How Real-Time Bidding Works
The real-time bidding process kicks off when an internet user visits a website. When that happens, the publisher’s site sends a message to the supply-side platform informing it of the availability of an impression.

The supply-side platform then analyzes the information sent about the user and sends it to the ad exchange. The following information about the users are generally analyzed by the supply-side platform before been sent to the ad exchange:
Their location
Their web history
If available, their age, gender, and any such information

Immediately the ad exchange receives this information, it connects to the demand side platform and transmits information about the user. With this information, the ad exchange starts an auction, and the demand side platform starts bidding on the view based on what the view is worth to them.

The advertiser who bids the highest wins the auction, and the bid is sent back to the publisher and the advertisers’ ad is displayed to the user.

The whole process is repeated over again for every available view on a web page, every time a user visits a new page on the website or a different website.

Programmatic Advertising

According to Statistic, “Programmatic advertising is a term used in digital marketing that describes the fast-growing computer-based automated buying, selling, placement, and optimization of digital advertising. In contrast with traditional advertising, programmatic ad buying involves the use of non-human software machines to purchase digital ads. Programmatic advertising technology ensures efficiency and reduced advertising cost. “

In the United States, programmatic advertising accounts for over 75 percent of total digital ad expenditures. Display programmatic advertising spending in the country is projected to reach over 45 million U.S. dollars by the end of 2019 compared to the 2016 spending cost of 25.5 million U.S. dollars.

It’s estimated that more than 80% of digital display ad dollars in the United States today is done via programmatic advertising means. Also, more than 80% of mobile display and video ad dollars also already flow through programmatic channels.

eMarketer estimates that by 2020, the vast majority of United States digital display ad spend (86.3%) will transact programmatically.

Programmatic marketing enables us to target different segments of our audience which can encompass demographics ranging from age, gender, social standing, average income, and location.

Buying Digital Media

Media buying generally means purchasing ad space from offline and also online channel, but in this article, we will focus more on online media buying.
In paid media, you purchase ad space in order to achieve your business objectives. There are many paid media available to buy from including television, social media platforms to digital advertising banners platforms
Owned media is media platforms owned by your brand. These are channels through which brands communicate with their viewers, users or subscribers. Your brand has exclusive access to publish on these channels.
Earned media refers to the recognition you get in specific verticals after a job well done.
The Media Buying Process
The media buying process ensures that the right people see your ads. It involves acquiring desirable ad space(s) and time slots so you are able to reach your target market via various media channels such as newspapers, television slots, magazines, radio, and online ads.

How Does The Media Buying Process Work?

There are 3 phases in the media buying process:
Pre-Launch: In this phase, the media buyer analyzes relevant media decisions.
Launch: In this phase, the buyer ensures effective media delivery. He makes sure the campaign is executed as per the media plan.
Post-Launch: In this phase, the buyer tends to analyze the result of the campaign and make adjustments as per needed.

Phase One: Pre-Launch

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” Before you get started on your media buy campaign, it is essential to have a plan.

Failure to plan will result in your time and money been wasted. Planning your media buy saves you time and money in the long run.

It would help if you did your groundwork before getting started. Do the following steps before you buy your first ( or next) media.

Identify Your Target Audience

Before you buy media, you need to know who your audience is. Failure to research your audience will result in you making wrong media buying decisions. It would help if you create a persona of your target audience before buying media.

Ask yourself the following questions to know who your target audience is
Whom do you want to reach?
Whom are you targeting?
What’s their gender?
How old are they?
Where do they live?
Where do they work?
What’s their average income?
What’s their marital status?
The answers you get from these questions will help you identify the best platforms to place ads.

Research Your Target Market

Now that you know your target market, it’s time to do in-depth market research. You can do your research, or you can depend on secondary research that’s done for you already. From our experience, It’s more cost effective to use secondary research.

In this phase of research, you want to identify the platforms your users make use of. Are they online? Are they watching television? Or are they into print media? In this phase of research, you are trying to determine the best places to place your advertisement.

It is important to note the consumer behavior of your target market. This helps in placing ads that perform effectively and achieves the campaign objectives.

Research Your Competitor

Once you’ve identified and researched your target audience, the next step is to research your competitor. You want to know how your competitor advertises to your target audience.

Ask the following questions to get a better understanding of what your competitors do when buying media.
Whom are your competitors targeting?
How are your competitors buying media?
What platforms are your competitors using to run their campaigns?
Where are your competitors placing their ads?
Which media channel have your competitors deemed effective or ineffective? Do they believe it’s less effective running television or print ads compared to running digital ads?
The answers you get from these questions will help you reverse engineer what your competitors do when buying media.

Create a Media Buying Strategy

Choose how you will run your media buying campaign. Decide on the channels that would enable you to achieve your campaign goals.

Based on the decision you make, you will either run your campaign on a single channel or multiple channels be it print ads in newspapers and magazines; video commercials on TV, online and movie theaters; indoor posters and outdoor billboards; radio advertising; banner and text digital media; mobile advertising and so on.

Set Your Marketing Objectives

Jawaharlal Nehru rightly said, “Failure comes when we forget our ideals, objectives, and principles.” Setting your marketing objectives helps you focus on the right advertising platform that can deliver your end goal.

It would help if you determine what you want to achieve from your media buys. Are you trying to create awareness about your business? Is your goal to have more sign-up or sales?

For each media buy, identify your most important objectives so that you can ascertain whether or not those objectives can be achieved.

Negotiate Price

Whichever media channel you decide to use to run your campaign, it’s important to negotiate the price of the media beforehand. Look for the best deals, and ask for discounts or bonuses that may be available. You should always compare offers from multiple publishers, and don’t be afraid to negotiate price.

Here are some tips for negotiating media buys:
Go for win-win when negotiating with media owners
Create long-lasting partnership with media owners
Get ideas from your media partners when buying media
Plan for the future – don’t burn the bridges when negotiating. Don’t go for a cutthroat bargain that will make future negotiations impossible
Give media owners a second chance – If a media you bought isn’t performing, don’t cancel it immediately. Talk to the media owner and look for ways to optimize the performance

Set Your Marketing Budget

To run a successful media buying campaign, you need to budget wisely to achieve the campaign objectives. Spend your budget where you will get the most ROI.

Budgeting effectively will allow you to determine the most appropriate method to achieve your goals, according to the cash you have to spend.

Phase Two: Campaign Launch

During the launch phase, the primary responsibility of the media buyer is to ensure optimal delivery of the media. It is also important to continually monitor the performance of the campaign.

It’s crucial for the media buyer to analyze what works and what doesn’t and based on those insights, make further adjustments.

Ensure Media Delivery

Ensure your advertisement is appearing in the desired location and is being shown to the right people and in the right context. Where and who your advertisement is shown to determines how it performs. Monitor how your potential customers interact with your advertisement – are they interacting with the advertisement the way you want them to? Are they commenting on your ads instead of sharing it or do they start performing your desired action and stops before completing it?

Track And Tweek

Things don’t always go the as we want them to. At such times, you have to make adjustments to what doesn’t work. Sometimes potential customers don’t interact with the advertisement the way you want them to, and you don’t receive the desired response (clicks, buys, signs up, calls, and so on).
Always track your campaigns and make the required adjustment to get them working the way you want. Don’t be afraid of drastically changing your campaign.

Phase Three: Post Launch

The post-campaign stage is a time to reflect and think about the good, the bad and the ugly of the advertising campaign in terms of delivery, media space, return on investment, customer engagement and overall performance.

Analyze Campaign Performance

After running the campaign for some time, and you have collected as much data as you can, analyze your campaign to see how it’s performing.
Analyze the effectiveness of the media space and whether it’s generating revenues as expected.
This is the time for you to evaluate the return on investment, and decide if the campaign should be canceled or continued. This is also the time to see what you did wrong in the campaign so as to correct it.

Media buying is no easy task. It’s a time-consuming task that shouldn’t be rushed. Do your research, plan your campaign and when you are certain, then buy your media.


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Alvin is the Founder and CEO of MobileAds.com. He is a go-getter, and adventurous guy who believes in working smart to gain success in his business ventures and in life. He also founded RichMediaAds.com and MobileLanders.com.

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