Saturday, August 30, 2008

Buying Advertising Media Tips for Organizations that Want to Buy their Own Ad Time and Space

Because the business has become extremely complex, most industry professionals would probably recommend that a small firm or organization employ a media buying specialist to purchase its ad time and space.

As Jay Levinson writes in Guerrilla Advertising (Houghton Mifflin 1994), the growing number of advertising media options has increased the risk of making costly buying mistakes. The number of functions involved in the media buying process illustrates its complexity.

Ad Buying Functions

The functions include:

  • Research
  • Analysis and strategies
  • Planning
  • Negotiating
  • Scheduling
  • Actual placement of the ads
  • Confirmation of run
  • Payment
  • Evaluation

Another indication of the complexity: One Internet firm offers a four-day "boot camp" or an eight-subject video series on media buying for just under $3,400.

Tips for Buying Ad Time and Space

For those who insist or feel forced to do in-house advertising, here are some tips for handling the media buying functions:

  • Be aware that media buying is an extremely detailed process requiring patience, communication skills, an analytic mind and an ability to crunch numbers.
  • Start by carefully defining target audiences, the prospects that the advertising is intended to reach.
  • Consider alternative media. The options today extend far beyond newspapers, magazines, radio, television and billboards. Cable TV, the Internet, bench and bus ads, newsletters, circulars, telephone directories and direct mail are just some of the other outlets that can effectively deliver specialized messages to targeted audiences.
  • Don’t accept media statistics at face value. Take them back to the office and analyze them. Get comparative figures from the media’s competition.
  • Buy the smallest circulation and the smallest audience that will cover the organization’s prospects. The object is to reach prospects, not large numbers of people.
  • Cable TV, radio and magazines can target audiences better than general circulation newspapers and television.
  • The size of the ad or the length of the commercial should be based on the space or time needed to effectively deliver the ad message. However, cost restrictions often require heavy editing of the message to fit the available space or time.
  • When buying print advertising, request a right-hand page.
  • Continuity should be a major goal in media buying.
  • Media representatives can provide estimates on how often a prospect must be exposed to an ad.
  • Always ask about the availability of special rates, volume discounts and value-added packages. Negotiation is ever-present in media buying. Media buying firms boast of their ability to negotiate rates.
  • Set aside some media money for special situations such as special media editions and promotions that will probably pop up during the year.
  • Do not buy school and other civic-related ads with the advertising budget. Most of them would not meet an advertising or marketing goal, so allocate them to the public relations or community service budget.
  • As Levinson says, media buying decisions should be based on cost-per-prospect instead of the media’s standard cost-per-thousand.
  • Check media associations for special rates and packages. Some offer discount rates in multiple publications and stations.
  • Schedule early for holiday seasons to get the best placement options.
  • Check all media invoices and demand proof that the ads were run as scheduled. Sometimes they don’t.

Use Caution in Selecting an Ad Buyer

When all this gets too complex and time consuming, reconsider the use of a media buying service. Phone books and the Internet are full of them. Selecting one is not quite as complex as media buying, but requires just as much caution.

Author : Carroll Trosclair

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