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Things to consider when choosing your next media-buying agency

There is a common misconception that media buying is carried out by a bank of order takers who just happen to be adept at negotiating half decent prices from media outlets on behalf of clients so they can place adverts at an attractive price.


However, as that giant of history Julius Caesar observed: ‘Without training, they lacked knowledge. Without knowledge, they lacked confidence. Without confidence, they lacked victory.’


And whilst the notorious Roman dictator may have failed to adeptly handle his own marketing, he was correct in suggesting that the successful execution of any campaign – in war or in advertising – very much depends on experience. In essence, there is no substitute.

Like any successful business transaction, media buying has more to do with the ongoing nurturing of relationships and meaningful engagement than the simple exchange of cash for airtime or ad space in print or online.

‘Experience is the teacher of all things’
Source: Julius Caesar

A media buying agency will effectively negotiate on the behalf of its clients not only a suitable price for advertising but also the best placement of the ad at the best time and with the optimum frequency with the aim of raising brand awareness and directing traffic to the brand’s website.

This relationship between agency and media outlets and publication partners should not be under estimated, in which case you will need to chose carefully.

The ideal media buying agency should be able to optimise the opportunity for your business – whatever the platform.

Transparency is vital so don’t shy away from asking direct questions – after all, you will be trusting them with your company purse strings.

Questions to ask…

  • How much experience has the agency in negotiating?
  • What relationships do they have – and with which media outlets and publication partners?
  • How comfortable are they in discussing technology strategy as well as media planning?
  • Where do their strengths lie – and their weaknesses i.e. are they more experienced online, with social or more traditional advertising outlets?
  • Do they draw up your objectives?
  • Do they have a vast reservoir of quantitative data on which they can strategically draw to help guide you in your buying decisions?
  • Can they negotiate bonuses and add-ons (those hidden little extras to which only they are privy!)
  • Do they keep an eye on budget?
  • Do they track key calendar dates and deadlines on your behalf – and respond to them?
  • Do they analyse results, react to them and change and adjust plans?
  • Have they examples of how they exceed conversion goals in a campaign?

Every advertising medium offers a unique opportunity to connect but technology has transformed the media planning and buying model – indeed, arguably it now drives and is forever reshaping the landscape – so your chosen agency should be up to speed with game-changing innovations.

It should also be in the business of ideas generation – you cannot be expected to always know where your target audience hangs out or what is best suited to your end game.

The best strategic campaigns create the biggest impact on your target audience, driving results, increasing leads and sales and raising brand awareness.

Regardless of the media channel, understanding the nuances of timing and ad placement within your campaigns can help increase effectiveness. A media buyer takes into consideration what time of day consumers might be most receptive to your message and in what medium. They know what day of the week offers the best saturation and how much competition there is for your ad space. This competition can come not only from your local competitors but also from upcoming holidays, events, political campaigns, etc. Once a media buyer determines which dates are best, he will then drill down further to uncover the best placements for your ads.

After all, in a digitally driven world, targeted consumer reach is all.

There should also be a follow-up process of campaign reporting and any decent agency will provide you with feedback with a view to redrawing and adapting your current plan.

Vanity case

Tempted to do it yourself? There is a recent trend for companies to bring media buying in-house but, be in no doubt, that a media buying agency should be perfectly placed to stretch your advertising spend and buy more ad placements than you can with your money – if you choose the right one. Any good agency will have vast experience in working off a rate card and negotiating with media outlets on your behalf.

And don’t be fooled into allowing your personal bias to dictate where and when your ad should be placed – it’s not all about you or your preferences. The banner ads on talkSPORT.com may catch your eye, but best leave the choice of platform to the experts to achieve your goals!

The agency should be involved in the planning stages so that it gets to know your target demographic and can determine the metrics for any successful ad campaign. It should create the perfect media mix using the ideal channels to suit your aim. The media buying should be based on the psychographics of your target audience – their likes, interests and what they care about and so on – to achieve your advertising goals, whether this is to increase brand awareness, drive leads or increase store traffic.

Indeed, you can use this type of information when creating your creatives in order to boost response in the right places.

A media buying agency should help you:

  • Manage your annual ad spend effectively
  • Save money of advertising
  • Increase subscription rate
  • Increased brand awareness
  • Increased store traffic
  • Increased sales
  • Increased return on advertising investment
  • Increased click-through rates.

Click through rate is everything and these should be analysed in order to redraw the lines when it comes to planning the next campaign.

Newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, digital outlets, sponsored tweets and posts, banner ads, videos, blogs and so on are all in the running for your ad spend – and a fully integrated campaign is often the best course of action. But don’t take our word for it! It takes an experienced team of media buyers to determine what percentage of your campaign will be devoted to which types of buys – finding the right ingredients in the right measure to create something incredible and beneficial to your brand is their forte. If you have the perfect creative, don’t leave your media buying to chance.


The Drum Recommends help brands identify the right partners and empowers them to make confident choices about who to work with. Check it out now to find your next media-buying agency.