What is Media Buying? An Agency Introduction to Traditional Media Marketing


When evaluating any media buy, reach and frequency are basic metrics that quantify the effectiveness of your campaign. Unfortunately, that’s only where it begins. Media buying requires an omnichannel understanding of where your audience is and how to more effectively reach them. We use a combination of tools such as Nielsen, Arbitron, Scarborough, Tapscan, and PPM, in addition to studying the first-party data available through digital marketing analytics. To bring all of this data together and track our media buying, we use a software called BluHorn to create, track, and revise media buys.

Ratings are like the stock market, they fluctuate every day. However, as an advertising agency, we have the flexibility to lay in order preemptively in order to lock in rates for campaigns that have a proven track record of success.  After each campaign is placed, we evaluate during and after to ensure they are generating the necessary ROI. By continuously monitoring the results, we uncover trends that help us fine-tune the buy to maximize results.

When creating any traditional media campaign, we start by requesting proposals from all of the media companies being considered. The could include dayparted rates, sponsorship opportunities, available endorsers, and anything else that might be helpful.

After negotiating these assets from the media companies, we compile all of this information into our formal proposal for current and potential partners (clients). This proposal outlines the goals, demographics, budget, and expectations for each medium.

Stack of magazines

For the majority of our partners, we use annual media buys, meaning we lay in the entire year in advance. There are a lot of advantages to this. For starters, we are able to lock in the best rates and inventory possible. Worrying about inventory may not seem like a big deal, but considering election years like 2020, it’s important to lock in your campaign so you won’t be preempted should the station oversell its inventory. Even though we place buys annually, we still the flexibility to change or cancel if needed within the industry-standard two-week cancellation policy.

The partners that have had the most success with these annual media buyers have regular meetings with us to review the performance of their campaigns, as well as discuss and new offers. The more we’re able to communicate with our partners the better chance we have to generate the maximum ROI.

The Best Rate Vs. The Lowest Rate

It might sound synonymous but the lowest rates are not always the best rates. Media buys that focus on the lowest possible rate often fall victim to poorly placed ad schedules. For our partners, we emphasize the importance of focusing on results and value over upfront savings. Not to mention that we have been able to negotiate the most competitive rates upfront in an effort to eliminate this from becoming an issue.

It’s Who You Know

We have been on the other side of media buying for a number of years. Almost everyone at our agency has some experience in direct media sales at Cleveland’s top media companies. Based on that experience, we know the importance of having a positive, constructive relationship with media companies. Just like we focus on creating meaningful partnerships with our clients we do the same with our media partners. Lucky for us, a number of the media reps we work have become friends, whether is from working together now or previously in media sales. Because of these relationships, our media partners advocate for our partners when there’s an opportunity for something new or by offering bonus inventory when available.

Programmatic Media Buying

We look at programming and dayparts being proposed and consider that alongside the targeted audience we are trying to reach. Each schedule is created to evaluate how each station will impact the overall campaign. Our team develops a proposed media buy, still knowing that we will need to negotiate with the media partners on final terms and added value. Once everything is compiled and analyzed, we present the final proposal to our client.

Execution And Tracking

Finally, the easy stuff is done with. For the partners that utilize our production and design services, we develop the creative and produce their commercial or design. Each media outlet receives the ad copy or commercial or creative for that particular campaign. Once our plan is confirmed with the media partners, we move on to tracking and evaluating the ROI of every penny invested in the campaign.  This happens in addition to analyzing the media post-buy reports, which essentially allow us to make sure the schedules are running as planned. Return on investment is evaluated with our partners based on the goals and the money and time invested in achieving those goals. Compiling monthly reports help us make sure we are achieving the desired results of the client’s campaign.

For every new and existing partner, we apply this buying process in order to generate the best possible results.

Author: anthony taylor

Anthony is the leader of the Mean Joe Advertising digital marketing department. Outside of work, he is a passionate sports fan and athlete.