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If you’re working on a new marketing plan, you probably are planning to utilize strategic media buying. Media buying is the practice of buying ad space, whether it’s in a newspaper, a magazine, a blog, or a television commercial spot. When you’re being strategic about it, you’re planning to get the best deal for your money and find the right publication or station for your business, based on demographics and any marketing research you’ve done.

Understanding media buying comes from practice, but here are five factors that matter when you are getting started:

1. Research Is Vital

The first stage is to do your homework. Before you spend any money, you need to know where you’re going to use that money and where you’ll get the best return on your investment. You’ll need to know your audience: What is their age demographic? Where do they spend their free time? How do they consume media?

If your demographic is retired folks, you’ll have a harder time finding them during a morning commute when they don’t spend a lot of time on the road. That billboard you bought for highway visibility may not be as effective as a newspaper advertisement.

Other research includes learning what kind of circulation any particular kind of media you are considering gets. If your budget is smaller, you might want to focus on local media such as newspapers and television stations, but you want to make sure that they get a reasonable amount of circulation before you spend your whole budget on that. You’ll also want to do research on when your television ad should run and in what section your ad might run in the newspaper.

2. Learn the Art of Negotiation

Purchasing ad space as a media buyer requires a certain amount of knowledge so you can get the best value for the ad space you’re looking at. This also requires some skills as a negotiator. There are two types of negotiation tactics: zero-sum negotiations and integrative negotiations.

Zero-sum is what you might have seen glorified in the movies: neither side is willing to compromise on an agreement. This can completely ruin a relationship with a media company, though, and you might soon find yourself without a contact at that media outlet.

Integrative negotiations are much friendlier and involve cooperating to make a deal you can both work with. Aim for that! Your relationship with contacts at media companies will help you in the long run because this won’t be your only marketing campaign for your company (one would hope).

Once you understand how much you are willing to spend and how much media usually costs in your area, you can start making your plan. Make sure that you have several places you might shop around because the strongest card you can have in your back pocket is an alternate plan. Maybe the publisher or the television network is already booked, or they’re asking for a higher price than you’re willing to pay. Having a backup plan means you can walk away from a deal and still feel like you’re on track.

Good negotiators also know that you should get it in writing. A handshake isn’t worth much if the publisher decides they don’t want to run the extra banner ad they promised. It might not be malicious, either; it could be they forgot or that someone else in their organization nixed the banner ad.

3. Timing Matters

When is your ad campaign starting? Depending on the time of year or what year it is, you might have some difficulty fitting into certain types of media. For instance, what if you start your ad campaign during an election year, when all the political ads are coming on TV, radio, and mobile? You might have a difficult time getting your ad into the mix if you haven’t negotiated a deal yet.

Purchasing TV ad space usually takes place during “up-front season,” when networks pitch media buyers on the benefits of buying ads on their network. If you do get into one of these meetings, make sure you negotiate that your ad can’t get bumped when a political ad comes along and wants your ad space.

Similarly, when negotiating for a radio ad, try to get space either at the beginning of the commercial break or at the end of it. Listeners tend to tune out commercial breaks altogether, so the ads squashed in the middle aren’t as effective as the space before or after that. Also, people tend to remember things at the beginning and ending better too.

4. Utilize New Types of Ads

We’ve already talked about advertising on TV, on radio, and in newspapers, but there are a lot of other media out there. There’s advertising on social media, billboards and signage you can add into the mix, and the recent trend of mobile gaming advertising.

Mobile gaming has become popular with all ages and genders, whether it’s a match-three game, classic puzzles such as Scrabble or Clue, or strategic games. Some of these ads could be viewed in order for a player to earn a reward, or it can be a passive type of ad such as a banner at the top or bottom of the screen. Users expect free games, and a company can capitalize on that. Players may not want to spend money, but they can still gain perks, extra lives, or boosters if they watch your ad. It’s a win-win!

5. Delegate the Work Beyond Your Scope

If you’re a small business, all this negotiating and research may not be in your wheelhouse, and that’s where an expert strategic media buying team such as InnoVision Marketing Group can help. They have resources and experience and know how to place your ads in the media setting that’s right for your message. While learning something new is an excellent way to bring new ideas to your own company, letting a team of experts handle this for you frees up your time to do the job you like doing best.

Reach out for information about partnering with InnoVision on your advertising campaigns.

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