Media Buying and Media Planning, An Extensive Guide

by ThinkWith Niche
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Advertisers are always looking for new ways to spread their message. Today, because people are engaged in almost every media platform, the options are apparently endless. With people spending so much time online, it’s no surprise that programmatic digital advertising is thriving — digital ad spend is expected to reach $785 billion globally by 2025.

media buying and planning process

So, how can businesses make the best decisions when it comes to communicating with their target audience? The answer is found in two steps: media planning and media buying. Our media planning and media buying guide will give you an overview of these processes and the role they play in a successful ad campaign.

What Is Media Buying?

Media buying is primarily concerned with acquiring media space and time to run advertisements. It also entails monitoring ad performance and adjusting the strategy as needed to optimize the performance of your ad campaign — this requires a lot of strategizing and negotiating to maximize your advertising budget.

So, what exactly is a media buyer? And what exactly does a media buyer do? A media buyer’s role, in its most basic form, is to get your message to your target audience.

What Is Media Planning?

While media buying involves some strategizing, the majority of the strategizing occurs during the media planning process. This planning is based on research — data-driven ad campaigns are more likely to produce the desired results. Media planning is critical to the process of disseminating your message.

Media Buying and Media Planning: What’s the Difference?

The terms media buying and media planning are frequently used interchangeably. These tasks may even be performed by the same agency or internal team, further blurring the distinction. To create a cohesive, successful ad campaign, media planning and buying should be closely integrated.

Having said that, we can distinguish between these two tasks. The advertising puzzle is divided into two parts: media buying and media planning. One way to think about the difference between media planning and media buying is to think of media planning as more of a strategy element in a campaign and media buying as the means of putting that strategy into action.

Both processes are necessary for a successful advertising campaign. When you skip the planning stage and go straight to the purchasing stage, you are unlikely to optimize your spending or your results. You cannot stop at planning; you must also put the plan into action.

The Media Buying Process

The media buying process can be divided into a few key steps:

1. Strategizing

The majority of the planning that goes into an ad campaign occurs during the media planning process rather than the media buying process. However, media purchasing strategies are also important for success. Media buyers must determine the best strategy for achieving great results while staying within their budget. Before taking action, they may decide on the general mix of media types they will pursue and other details of their strategy.

2. Discovering the Best Media Outlets

When media buyers have a game plan to work with, they can start putting it into action. The first step is to determine which media platforms they want to advertise on. It could include a mix of traditional and digital media, such as print, radio, or television, or it could be solely focused on digital platforms. The media buyer will send a request for a proposal to each media outlet with which they wish to collaborate.

3. Negotiating and Buying

Before officially purchasing the ad space, media buyers negotiate with media outlets to determine the best price. Much of this process is automated in the case of online advertising and does not involve traditional negotiations. Still, media buyers must make strategic decisions to ensure that your ads appear in the best places, at the best times, and the best price.

4. Launching the Campaign

The campaign launch is the next step! It is when your ads begin to appear in various locations based on the media buyer’s decisions. The media buying agency should immediately begin evaluating the campaign to ensure that your ads are performing as expected.

5. Tracking and Optimizing Results

Media buyers should continue to monitor results as the campaign progresses so that they can optimize your campaign. Once the data starts coming in, they may need to make some adjustments to ensure the best results possible within your budget. Detecting problems early and finding better ways to get your message across is critical during the purchasing process.

The Media Planning Process

The following are the steps to successful media planning:

1. Researching

In some cases, a company will already have solid data on its target audience that can be used to inform advertising campaigns. If this information does not already exist, media planners will collect it to better understand the target audiences and the market as a whole.

2. Establishing Goals

After conducting market research, the next step is to define the objectives of the advertising campaign. What’s the goal of your advertising campaign? The more specific your goals, the more focused your campaign will be.

3. Strategizing

Strategizing is a critical component of media planning. Media planners will think about the best ways to achieve the campaign’s objectives. Part of this will entail determining which types of media are most appropriate for the campaign. Will it be a hybrid of traditional and digital methods? Will everything be done digitally?

4. Budgeting

Budgeting is an essential part of the process as well. To determine budgetary constraints for an ad campaign, media planners must collaborate with a company. The appropriate budget is one that the company can afford and that media planners believe will be sufficient to achieve the campaign’s objectives.

5. Evaluating Results

Media planners can still play a role in assessing results and ensuring everything is in line with their strategy after the baton is passed to media buyers to put the plan into action. They may discover areas where they are falling short and need to re-strategize to address these issues.

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