Securing media space or time for the delivery of your advertising messages, also known as media buying, is a high-stakes endeavor. With the proliferation of options available, it has become more important than ever to select the right vehicles for getting your message out, and to make sure you have the right people making those decisions.

“Media can be bought in magazines, newspapers, television, radio, billboards, gas stations, malls, on websites, search engines and mobile phones. Media buying opportunities are popping up just about anywhere there is a possibility to connect with consumers or businesses,” says Rochelle Reiter, agency principal at Orange Label Art + Advertising.

“You want to make sure that the internal team or outside firm making the media buying decisions has experience with all types of today’s media options, knows how to negotiate and understands marketing and creative strategy,” adds Wes Phillips, also an agency principal with Orange Label Art + Advertising.

Smart Business asked Reiter and Phillips how companies can get the best bang for their media buck.

What is the strategic role of media buying?

Media buying is strategic because it is where a significant amount of the advertising budget is spent. If care is not given to media buying, dollars are spent that produce weak results, which slows down sales volume and is discouraging to the organization. Many companies spend at least 2 percent of annual revenue on advertising, and for some businesses the amount is 10 percent or greater; this expenditure is so great that it requires careful thought about who is going to make the decisions.

What strategies are required for effective media buying?

Effective media buying begins with researching the most appropriate vehicles to reach the target demographic given a specific budget. With digital media vehicles (online, mobile, etc.) now available, knowledge of the terminology used for each medium is important. Once the media vehicles are selected, it’s necessary to determine the appropriate schedule and frequency within each medium (i.e., when that schedule is going to run and how often it will reach the demographic given a specific time period). The next step is to negotiate the schedule in terms of price and placement to ensure the best possible value and response.

Who should do the buying?

It depends on how your company is structured. If you have an internal marketing department, it can be managed internally, however, your team must have a background in both traditional and digital media. You need staff members who can keep up to date on how media can be purchased and how they are analyzed. In the past, once you learned something, the frame of reference could last for years — today, it is for months only. So you need to retain people who are motivated to stay current, and these types of individuals typically demand high levels of compensation.

You can also look to an agency to do the buying, but make sure they have the same expertise you would demand of an internal resource. An agency works with numerous companies and will know what kinds of deals others are getting on their media buys and can negotiate effectively on your behalf. If the media buying is done internally, your staff may not have a frame of reference for what other companies are doing or getting. There are also media buying services, but sometimes they can lack depth in marketing and creative strategy, so be careful.

How can a company ensure that the buy is efficient?

Analyzing the efficiency of a media buy occurs in two phases: a) pre-buy and b) post-buy. The pre-buy requires analyzing data and metrics to ensure the buy is focused and targeted at the desired demographic and negotiating the highest value for each media dollar spent. A post-buy analysis occurs after the buy has run and will show you the cost per lead and the cost per conversion, which demonstrates how effective the buy was. It will let you know whether the buy worked and will help you determine future decisions.

What is the difference between branding and direct response media buying?

Organizations have various goals and objectives at different stages in their lifecycle. One may be looking to simply generate brand awareness and others may want to generate direct response from their campaigns. Media buying to generate brand awareness involves buying more reach-based vehicles such as television (i.e., Coke or Apple buying prime-time television). Direct response buying involves buying more frequency-based vehicles such as radio, pay-per-click Google ads or cable television. Direct response advertising can often be identified by the specific call to action, repeated multiple times.

How does media buying fit into an integrated marketing and advertising plan?

Effective media buying is only one component of an integrated marketing plan. For the media buy to be effective and achieve marketing objectives, such as generating brand awareness or moving people to action, the marketing message must be compelling. Developing powerful marketing messages involves researching the target demographic and understanding how to craft a unique and relevant story that resonates with the target demographic — and then determining the best vehicles to deliver those messages so they motivate targets to take action.

WES PHILLIPS and ROCHELLE REITER are the agency principals of Orange Label Art + Advertising. Reach them at (949) 631-9900 or or

Published in Orange County