Do You Need a Media Buyer and What are the Costs?

Media Buying Costs

Anyone can buy media – and that’s a fact.   We believe it takes research, looking at data to make the smartest investment of ad dollars and constant optimization to build the most effective advertising campaigns for companies.  A media buyer should work off of a media plan, which is a blueprint of the “Who, What, When, Where and Why”:

  • Who is the target?
  • Where are they geographically?
  • When do we reach them?
  • What mediums/platforms need to be implemented?
  • Why are we using them (the benefits of each medium)?

This blog will go over how different mediums are bought and sold, optimizations of campaigns as well as what responsibilities a media buyer should have within the marketing campaign.  We will also address how different companies charge for their media buying function and questions to ask when hiring a media buying agency.

 How to Buy Media

Most media channels price their inventory (commercial air time) based on supply and demand.   The higher the demand, the higher the pricing is for the commercials.   If there is a lot of “inventory” then the rates they charge for ad time and space will be lower.  This is a trend you will see throughout the industry.

Television is purchased based on a Cost-Per-Point (CPP) or a Cost-Per-Thousand (CPM).   Avails (which is a document that lists all programming, projecting ratings and pricing) would be requested.   The typical avail request from a television station will include the flight dates of the campaign, target demographic, what dayparts (time periods that are standardized are Early Morning, Daytime, Early Fringe, Early News, Prime Access, Prime Time, Late News, Late Fringe, Sports).   The buyer would then project ratings based off historical programming data and negotiate the rates for commercials (ads) based off the market.   Copp Media Services will build a rough buy and negotiate with stations based on their efficiency to determine where the money is most likely to be spent.   The least efficient station will receive the first negotiation call.   The bar continues to get lower on CPP, so the most efficient station on the avail submission is allowed the final call.   This puts that most efficient station at a competitive advantage and encourages media reps to provide strong rates from the beginning of the negotiations.  Not all agencies negotiate in this manner, many times they will request a package from each station based upon the resources for the campaign (budget).  Buying inventory In this manner might be okay, but we believe it benefits the tv station more than the clients.

Radio is also based on a CPP or CPM.   Rates are generated by the radio stations and analyzed based on most efficient radio stations.  Additional consideration is given to those who have provided added value such as bonus commercials, promotional opportunities, streaming, etc.  The buyer will also consider qualitative data if it is available.  If you are trying to reach a business leader you might focus more dollars on talk radio or public radio as an example even if they are not as efficient on a CPP.   Media Buyers need to think beyond the numbers sometimes and make decisions on advertising spend based on radio station audience performance and “fit” for a client’s product.

Outdoor billboards are sold by location.   A buyer would provide the outdoor billboard company with the criteria that they are looking for inventory to meet.   Is the campaign one that need the billboards to provide a directional message?   Does the message need to change throughout the campaign?    Is there a geographic area that needs more concentration of billboards?   By answering these questions, the buyer will know what kind of inventory needs to be purchased – Digital, Poster or Static.

Factors in helping to choose the right locations would be impressions (how many people will be exposed to the message?), visibility (is the billboard a good “read?), and what is the pricing of the billboard.?

Static billboards are generally purchased for longer periods of time.   A static board size is typically 14 x 48, and you must purchase vinyl for the billboard creative.   Production is seldom included in the space cost of the billboard location.  This production can range from $700-$1300 per board, so leaving that creative up for a longer period makes sense – at least twelve to twenty-four weeks.   Digital billboards creative can be changed often.   Poster billboards are smaller (12 x 24) and many times are located closer to neighborhoods and not on major throughfares.   This inventory is purchased in 4-week flights.   If you are running an 8-week flight, we would recommend selecting different locations for the second 4-weeks, as some of the inventory purchased for the first part of the campaign might stay up.   Poster billboard creative will not change out until the unit is resold.

A Digital media strategy often is based around audience selection, geographic targeted area, and lifestyle and/or interest groups that are most likely to respond to your messaging.   Digital components could include social platforms such as Facebook, Linked In, Pinterest, Instagram and Tik Tok to name a few.   Other digital campaigns could be Over-The-Top (OTT) streaming, geofencing, YouTube and Google.   Digital strategies need to be implemented based on purpose – as with all other media it’s important to understand what the goals and target audiences when selecting digital strategy.  Making sure that you develop key measurement goals so that digital campaigns can be optimized based on achievement of those goals will be important.  Technology today makes online placements very trackable and advertisers can see by brand customers who are willing to pay for their product.

Optimizing Media Buys During Campaigns

Determining in advance what goals need to be completed to have a successful campaign will help you measure what strategies are delivering the best results.   Digital campaigns are the easiest to optimize as most will have a completion goal.   What strategies are achieving the highest results and most efficient results.   What is your cost per acquisition?   Are there small “tweeks” that can be made to increase completion goals and lower costs? Are you doing “A/B” testing of creative, and which one is outperforming the other?    An experienced buyer can help to make sure that your campaign is running as efficiently as possible.


Post-Media Buyer Responsibilities

A media buyer would be involved from beginning to end of the campaign.   The final steps after completion of the campaign will be to provide reporting of how each segment of the campaign performed, what changes were made and what the future recommendations should be implemented.   Were their creative concepts that resonated better with the audience.   What components of the campaign generated the largest completion goals?  Copp Media reviews these reports with clients to help them understand strategies as well as creative tactics.

How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Media Buying Agency

Fees for services differ by company.   Some media companies work off a 15% agency commission.   Most traditional mediums offer a standard 15% commission to advertising agencies who place media with them.   Other strategies that do not include a commission structure from the media would be “marked up” the commission. Others provide their services based upon an hourly rate.   Ultimately, the client is the one who would decide compensation of their agency.

Questions to Ask a Media Buying Company

We think some of the most important questions are:

  • Does your media buyer work from a media plan?
  • What is the plan approval process?
  • What tools do you use to purchase media?
  • Do you subscribe to the ratings?
  • Does your company work with all mediums?
  • How experienced is your team with each of the mediums?
  • How will your company be compensated for work?
  • Are there additional charges (and what are they)

We would love to sit down with you if you are looking for a media buying agency.