What is a 'Media Buy'

Media buy is the purchase of advertising from a media company such as a television station, newspaper, magazine, blog or website. It also entails the negotiation for price and placement of ads, as well as research into the best new venues for ad placement.

Breaking Down 'Media Buy'

Media buying is essentially the act of acquiring real estate (or inventory) where advertisements may be placed. In television buying, a variety of factors must be considered, such as time, space, rates, lead demand and more. The price of a television media buy will depend on the specifics of the advertising campaign, such as whether it will appear in a single city, regionally or nationwide. On a website, the price would be determined by factors such as where the ad will be placed on the page, how many pages of the website the ad will appear on, how large the ad will be, how many days the ad will run for, how much traffic the website receives and the website's user demographics. The more exposure the advertiser is expected to receive, the more expensive the media buy will usually be. A media buy is different from "earned media" and "owned media" in that it is purchased.

Media Buy Stages

Before a media buy happens, media buyers must perform research to optimize the return on investment on their client's advertising budget. They will examine the target audience for a product and determine which venue or combination of venues will best serve it. For example, they may utilize demographic and geographic research related to the product to optimize their media buy. An advertiser's budget also may dictate when an ad should run and where is should be placed. For example, bigger budgets can mean access to regional or national markets. Smaller budgets may mean local newspapers or radio. Once the right venue has been chose, a media buyer will approach whomever owns the desired slot or space to negotiate a price, timing and the rest of the deal.

Some important aspects of the media buying process include personal relationships between media buyers, media planners and channel owners. Since airtime is finite, media buyers must foster relationships to get the most opportune placement and timing. Also, media buyers must keep abreast of changes in the marketplace. As the communications business changes, assumptions on what is the best venue for advertising must be challenged regularly. What was a great venue last year may no longer the case this year. Finally, media buyers should be able to create value for advertising clients by finding or creating deals.

Media Buy and Programmatic Buying

A big trend in media buying (or ad buying) on the internet or mobile devices is the use of technology to automate the advertising buying process. Programmatic advertising happens in real time by utilizing algorithms to allow advertisers to bid for the right to place an ad on a web page.

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