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Smart Media Buying: Work Smarter, Not Harder


We all know what an advertising campaign is, right? It’s more than simply creating an ad; it’s a strategy carried out across different mediums to achieve the desired results. While you should have a specific goal and message in mind for a campaign, you have a lot of flexibility regarding the details of your strategy. This is where media buying becomes so essential. Above everything else, employing smart media buying and planning practices is the biggest determiner of a successful ad campaign.


Set Yourself Up for Success


Media planning and buying require strategy, negotiation, and an eye to placing ads precisely where the intended audiences will intercept them. Without buyers and planners, brands would struggle to connect with prospects and customers at the right moments as they navigate the stages of the buyer’s journey (awareness, consideration, decision, and loyalty). However, smart media buying begins well before ad inventory is purchased. Planners are thinking about media buying from the very beginning of an ad campaign.


Define Success


When you decide to create a new campaign, the most obvious question you need to ask yourself is: why. Why do you want to dedicate time, energy, and part of your budget to this new endeavor? When you’re considering the goal, you may think sales is the obvious answer, but other objectives you could focus on will also positively impact your business’s bottom line. Here are a few examples: growing brand awareness, increasing in-store foot traffic, improving communication with a specific market, promoting current products, or launching new products.


It’s crucial to identify campaign objectives early on in the process as they influence the type of media you ultimately invest in. For instance, out-of-home (OOH) ads could be a fantastic way for you to improve brand awareness. Or, if your goal is to reach out to a specific audience, you may need to research different multicultural media channels. Of course, you can’t start buying anything until you know who your target audience is.


Find Your People


Media planners and buyers spend a lot of their time pondering over their audience, that sometimes-elusive group of consumers who will be the right fit for a campaign’s message. If you have a well-defined target market or audience, it will be much easier for you to accomplish your campaign objectives and accurately measure results down the road. Defining critical points of your target market such as their age range, sex, socioeconomic status, education level, occupation, interests, behaviors, and hobbies will help you understand who you’re trying to reach and how you should reach them.


Once you’ve defined the demographics, psychographics, and behavior trends of your target market, you’ll be able to segment it into different audiences. Divide them into different groups based on the products or services you want to promote and according to various audience characteristics. Once you’ve carefully gathered and evaluated all of the data you have available on your target audience, you can make more educated decisions on which media channels fit best.


Working Hard: Smart Media Buying


Armed with all you’ve learned so far about your audience and the campaign objectives you’ve set for yourself, it’s time to build your media plan. How you structure your media mix, no matter how strong your creative, can make or break a media campaign. This is where it takes more than just smart media buying and planning; it takes experience.


Your Media Mix


A media mix is the combination of media channels you activate to meet your advertising campaign’s goals. Back in the day, brands had newspapers and print media, television, radio, billboards, and OOH offerings to choose from. Over time, more channels have been developed: social media, podcasts, paid search and display ads, digital OOH, email marketing, and online video.


Each channel is unique, and different combinations can be utilized depending on your audience and your goals. For instance, social media or podcast ads typically help you connect with a younger audience, while television or print ads will connect you with an older audience, on average. Just make sure you’re smart about it; just like you don’t put all your eggs in one basket, you shouldn’t put all your ads in one channel.


The crux of smart media buying is finding the most robust rates and premium placements that fit your audience. To learn more about the channels you want to mobilize, we recommend reaching out to media buyers who specialize in the medium you’re interested in. They’ll already have the necessary experience and connections in that industry and be able to negotiate for the best rates on your behalf.


It’s Not Over ‘Til It’s Over


After your campaign launches, you probably think that’s where the media planning and buying process ends, but that would be too easy. While the campaign is running - and after it concludes - it’s the perfect time to measure performance and work on ways to implement improvements either on the current campaign or on future efforts. If you aren’t tracking metrics, you might as well have shouted out your window and called that an ad campaign, because for all you know, it benefited your marketing efforts just as much.


In some cases, such as with pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, you can even test different iterations of your campaign to see what works best. Smart media buying and planning is an art just as much as a science. It’s up to you to constantly refine and improve upon the research you’ve already conducted into your market, audience, and media mix in order to get that much closer to achieving your objectives.


We’ll Work Hard For You


Stewardship is critical to ensuring the integrity of any ad campaign throughout the process and that every media dollar is accounted for - from research and planning to invoice auditing and post-analysis. That’s why our media buyers and planners at The Ward Group are called media stewards. With over 35 years of experience in the media industry, we’ve fine-tuned the process of planning and buying ad placements.


Our stewards work diligently to make sure each ad dollar is invested and managed like it’s our own, from old school mediums such as print and radio to newer additions like digital and multicultural-specific channels. If you’re ready to work smart and not complicated, contact The Ward Group today and let us do the heavy lifting.