Media Buying


Media buying is a core function of media planning, the process in which marketers and advertisers strategically determine what paid ad placements are best for their brands. While products are inventory to brick and mortar stores, these ad placements are ‘inventory’ to media buyers and planners. A marketing budget often allows for only so much inventory, making effective media buying vital to the success of a brand’s messaging. An audience error or other miscalculation in the media buying process could mean missed opportunities for reach and ultimately fewer conversions.

For those reasons, media buying is a process often involving market and audience research. To know how to best reach a particular demographic, brands must first determine how the target audience segment collectively spends its time. This involves asking questions about time spent on various mediums, preferred methods of communication, device usage, etc. Media buys can be made in a variety of categories, like display, digital, search, print, and more.

Sometimes, media buying also involves negotiating a guaranteed number of impressions for each piece of inventory purchased. If so, media planners can leverage these high-impact placements by reaching out to suppliers or other industry partners that may be interested in being included in the campaign. Impressions aren’t always guaranteed before campaigns are initiated, however—they can be purchased at any time. For example, when media buyers bid on and purchase impressions individually, this process is called real-time bidding (RTB). Buyers participate in RTB scenarios when an audience is extremely targeted and they’re hoping to leverage high-performing content for maximum reach.

Need help? IMA has assembled a list of media buying vendors here

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