Business just can’t be done without advertising. Any entrepreneur who is serious about success realizes this or learns it the hard way. Companies set advertising budgets because this is a necessary expense and it must be invested in on a regular basis in order to keep customers coming through the doors, calling in or visiting a site. Of course, advertisements must have a conduit and that conduit is generally media of many different formats. What we want to talk about today is buying ads in different media and how one performs a media buy. We also want to discuss some of the more important aspects of media buying. Our purpose is to illuminate this concept and make sure you understand what all it involves in case you ever have to do a media buy yourself or hire a professional to do so on your or your company’s behalf. After all, knowledge is power.
What is the Definition of Media Buys
A media buy is, in short, the purchasing of advertising in media such as newspapers, TV channels, radio stations, magazines and other media platforms. For all intents and purchases, the term media buys is thrown around the IM circles as meaning buying banners in ad networks, and while banner buys from ad network fall within that category it is not the only form of media buying. In order to fund their platforms, advertisements must be sold by media outlets and this is why the relationship between advertisers and the media has such a long history.
There are different types of media buys depending upon a range of factors such as the outlet chosen, the duration that the ad will run, the hours it will be shown if the outlet is involved in broadcasting as well as other details. The process of performing media buys is known as media buying.
Part of media buying is media planning. This is a very important part of any advertiser’s overall strategy and it must be done correctly in order to get the right results from the advertising process. There is much more to media buying than calling up and purchasing an ad such as a consumer would do via the newspaper’s classified ads section. Media outlets have schedules, different rates that change depending upon all kinds of factors, various bonuses they are willing to offer at certain times and much more. In addition, advertisements must be created and they have to be aimed at the audience they are intended for.
Negotiate with media
As you might imagine, this complex process has quite a learning curve associated with it. A media buyer, whether the business owner themselves or a professional, needs to know how to talk to the media outlet and negotiate a good deal for the advertising they want to buy. They also need to make sure they are familiar with any outlet they happen to be buying from so that they can make sure the ads are going to be seen by the right people. In addition, they will need to have all of their information ready to go when they call in so that everything goes smoothly.
Why is Media Buying Important for Businesses?
If a business is not able to get the word out about the products or services it has to offer, then it can’t bring in new customers and therefore can’t turn a profit. Most business owners, when they first get started, fail to realize just how crucial advertising is to the success of their enterprise. It can be expensive, but by studying the way that media buying works and how advertising in general is conducted, it is possible to find lower cost alternatives to expensive ads when needed.
TV stations and radio publications
While a physical business can post a sign on its building, this is rarely enough to really drive sales, even if there is a lot of foot traffic through the area. Signage elsewhere, including billboards, can be helpful but media buying almost always has to be done in order to make sure that the right audience is targeted.
Publications, radio and TV stations all have target audiences and they know their demographics. Sometimes they even target specific geographic areas which can be helpful for certain businesses. It is important to take into account everything that a media outlet has to say about itself in order to determine if they are right for the business you run as well as the type of advertisement you are planning to place.
Size of market and targeting
Media buying is often done on a national scale and this is important for companies that need a large market. When things get to this level, it is very important to proceed with caution because it can get incredibly complicated very quickly. Usually, purchasing in national media outlets is fairly straight forward although the costs are much larger. Where things get complex is situations where the media buying will cover a number of different media outlets spread across the country.
This is what a lot of companies that serve very big, even global, markets are going to need. However, if they were unable to reach out to such vast audiences then chances are good they would never see the profits they are looking for. In this case, having nationwide or global exposure is incredibly important and the company in question would not be in business if they did not do this type of media buying.
What Are Some of the Types of Media One Can Buy Ads In?
Broadcast media formats like TV and radio are what most people think of when they think of ‘media’. These can be local stations, national syndication networks or other alternatives. It is even possible to advertise on streaming broadcasts online or on sites that offer video to the public, such as YouTube. Internet radio stations, too, sometimes offer advertisers the opportunity to place an ad. While it is not always true, sometimes online media can cost less.
The thing to remember about broadcast media is that there will be a far higher level of expense because you need to produce either a commercial for the screen or for the radio. These commercials are not cheap although cheaper alternatives with very low production values do exist.
For the most part, larger companies are the only ones who have budgets for this kind of media buying and they will generally turn to other companies to handle the making of the commercials as well as the media buying. Online options might cost less, but there is still a significant amount of work involved to produce the commercial itself. In some situations, however, a simple graphic ad with a voice over can be a low-cost alternative.
Printe media buying
Print media like magazines, trade publications, journals and newspapers of all kinds are all potential media outlets, too. Obviously, there is usually a need for skilled graphic design to make the appropriate kind of ad for these media formats, but sometimes simple text will do – it depends on the requirements of the publication in question.
Publications, too, tend to have target audiences and are able to provide circulation numbers to potential advertisers to help them get an idea of the reach of their ad. It is important to examine each of these factors when deciding which publication an ad is liable to be most effective in.
In addition to these better known and more established media outlets, there are also media outlets online. Some TV, radio or print outlets will also have a website that advertisers can place ads on, too. Then there is stand alone sites with large audiences that sell ads.
These digital media publishers sometimes offer a lower cost to reach their audiences and will usually be able to take ads that did not cost as much to produce thus saving the company buying those ads a good deal of money. This is why keeping digital publishers in mind is not a bad idea.
How is Media Buying Done?
It should be noted that media buying can be done by a solo entrepreneur, but that if the campaign itself is at all large then this can be a time-consuming process fraught with the potential for issues. Media buying experts and entire media buying firms exist to make this process a great deal easier and it will almost always be more effective to turn to them. After all, advertising is rarely cheap and all too often a beginner can waste money buying ads that produce no real results.
That said, regardless of who is doing a media buy, there are a number of steps to the process that need to be followed. The first step is to identify exactly the market you are trying to advertise within. You need to know who you are reaching and have a basic description of your typical customer. The more detailed, while remaining realistic, that you can be, the better off you are. You can then use the information on who your target customers are to determine what types of media they might be most likely to consume on a regular basis. At this point, you are trying to achieve good, effective positioning for your ads. You will most likely need to do a considerable amount of research to figure this part out in case you have not already done so for your business plan and kept that marketing data up to date.
Targeted audience and media buying
Whether you know your target audience watches a lot of TV and plan to buy a commercial spot or you know that positioning an ad in a specific newspaper is likely to catch their eye, you need goals. What you want to do, long before you buy ads, is figure out what are going to be the results that tell you whether your ad was effective or not. Do you simply want more customers flowing through the door?
Do you need more calls coming in asking about what your business offers? Are you looking to make sales right off the bat? There are many different ways to define ‘success’ and in advertising, it is crucial that you determine what your definition of success is before placing even one ad.
Rarely will a business be advertising in just one media outlet. In order to drive sales, it normally makes sense for them to run an entire advertising campaign. This could include a mixture of different kinds of media, it could mean the same ad in many related publications or it could mean that they target a few different demographics with a brand new product to help create awareness. At any rate, the point is that they are likely going to be running ads in many places at once and that’s how things begin to get so complex.
What you are going to have to have when doing media buying at this level is a strategy. You’ll need to set a budget, set a schedule for when the ads will be run, possibly supervise the design of those advertisements, get all the figures together on the various media outlets involved and so forth. This is both an art and a science and making it all happen often requires expertise. That’s what we’re going to be talking about next.
The Importance of Considering a Media Buying Professional
Media buying takes more time and energy than most people believe it would. It is not something that is easy for an amateur to do and since mistakes can be costly, it usually makes sense to bring a professional on board. Remember, businesses and organizations trying to raise awareness about what they do will both need this kind of help.
You can hire a professional or work with a firm, but you are most likely going to need help one way or another if you are doing anything beyond purchasing a few ads from local media outlets. Advertising is a multi billion dollar industry and it involves many people, many companies and audiences all around the world. A professional will be able to help you navigate these often treacherous waters and make sure you get the ROI you are looking for.
Additionally, it is worth considering that professionals can usually do media planning for you which lets you focus on your core business instead of on advertising it. They can stick to the budget you have set out and make sure you are getting the results you want. Some media outlets don’t even want to speak to those who are not media buyers already because the process of walking a new customer through everything they need to know is deemed a waste of time. Who can blame them? Most media outlets of that size and stature have advertisers lined up around the block waiting to place an ad with them.
Is Media Buying Something That Can Benefit Businesses Online?
Yes, and it is often something that online enterprises forget to think of. As great as a website is at promoting itself on the web, there are bound to be people who simply have not heard of it even though they have Internet access and are likely customers. Web-based enterprises should learn to think beyond the web and see the kind of results that well planned media buys can bring to them.
The best websites do want to be known offline and in order to reach those customers, it is important to go where they are. Even awareness raising can help expand a site’s audience on the web and give it a more authoritative presence. After all, only a truly respected site would have the means to advertise itself in print, on the radio or on TV, right? This is often the way that consumers think and it can mean big results for sites that never realized there were possibilities for them to advertise off of the web.
Research is Critical Before a Media Buy
As mentioned, a lot of research has to go into the process of media buying. Not only does a business need to know its own audience, it also needs to know the best ways to reach those people. Studying your customers is important because often, where a few customers are consuming a particular kind of media, there will be many more who simply have not been made aware of your business.
Studying the media outlets carefully is something else that has to be done in order to do media buying properly. You need to know how big of an audience the outlet reaches, whether or not there are peak times or fluctuations involved. If it is a print publication then you need to know where the ad is going to be placed. You want all of these facts gathered so you can make smart decisions on where to buy your media from, when and how much it is going to end up costing you.
If you’re willing to go through all of this work, or to hire a pro to do it on your behalf, then there is a very good chance that media buys will revolutionize your business. Brand awareness skyrockets when media buying is done properly and sales often see a very substantial boost, as well. This is the way a small business becomes ‘big time’ and it is an essential part of becoming a truly successful venture today.