Media Buying For Beginners

Research, research and more research. And most importantly, test, test, test.

There’s nothing fancy or super difficult about the media buying process. You really just need to be logical, trust your past experiences and be confident in your choices.

However, mistakes are likely to creep in during your first media buying strategy. Embrace them, learn from them and never stop asking the most important question throughout your media buying process: “WAIT, BUT WHY?”

This week we’ve decided to give you somewhat of a starter pack to get you going as a media buyer. There’s some ground that you may have to cover before diving into buying media.

The Media Buying Blueprint includes the following:
* Media Planning & Research
* Media Scheduling
* Media Optimisation
* Media Audience Learnings
* Media Reporting

 

Media Planning & Research

Some refer to this process as the pre-buy. As stated above, before buying media you have to do some groundwork and do some research. This includes, but is not limited to, audience research (demographics, location, gender and interests). Who are you targeting? What data is out there for the audience you are targeting? Which channels or avenues can let you target the relevant audience optimally. Websites like Effective Measure, Alexa.com, Quantcast.com and Google Trends can be a great start in your search for your audience behaviour data trends.

The pre-buying process also includes competitor research. Who are your competitors targeting? On which channels or avenues are they buying their media? What form of tone and creative assets are your competitors utilising?

This step also includes goals, budget and tracking. What’s the campaign budget? What key performance indicators must be achieved? Which tracking tool(s) will be used to measure the KPIs set out to be achieved?

Performance marketing (how did we get here) box.

As one of the fastest growing industries in the world, individuals are pushed to not only be one-trick ponies. This means that even if you only buy media, in the near future you may have to equip yourself with the skill of being a digital performance manager. Performance marketing thrives on delivering results (as set out on your media buying schedule in the form of KPIs). It requires marketers who are multi-disciplined as the lines between the channels are getting blurred.

 

Media Scheduling

Now that the pre-buying part is done, it’s now time to actually start your media buying. But first, how will you buy your media? Will you buy directly from a website owner or publisher? Or will you buy ad space through first- or third-party channels like Facebook, Google and Bing to place ads on their own and/or other sites that they’ve partnered with.

For example, if you know that your campaign is supposed to run only in a certain city, street or vicinity, you should work with an ad network/agency that can offer the tools and technology to make your campaign a success. And so on.

 

Media Optimisation

During the lifespan of your campaign, you constantly need to optimise your campaign across all media networks chosen. Do this carefully, as significant changes can impact your campaign in a negative way. Rather stick to optimising the campaigns in relation to what your audience data is telling you.

However, different ad networks have different technology limitations. My advice is to really go in-depth and really understand your tools and the different functions they offer in assisting you to better optimise your campaign. Don’t be shy, play around and never stop testing.

 

Media Audience Learnings

This is by far my most favourite part in the media buying process: audience data learning and understanding. This part is however not possible if you didn’t set up your tracking at all or if you just set up a single conversion point.

With tools like Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics media buyers can go the extra mile in terms of understanding their targeted audience and what exactly they are doing when they land on their campaign website. By having a tracking plan strategy at hand can allow you to better understand your campaign performance and also the ability to set up future campaigns successfully now that you know your targeted audience better. My advice is to track anything that’s clickable and triggers some sort of an event when called upon.

For instance, your campaign may not be meeting the overall objective of driving audiences to a certain page on your site, however, your targeted audience are downloading a PDF that teaches them about your service/product offering and that by itself is a micro KPI that you can report on.

 

Media Reporting

After all is said and done, you need to report on the campaign performance. I’ve seen reports in my lifetime in digital marketing that only consist of one line. Please don’t be that individual.

With their vast capabilities, these different tools can help you analyse and report on for example specific creative performance, time of day and weekday performance, and down to device, age and gender performance. As stated above in terms of tracking, you can also report on micro conversions like PDF downloads, email address clicks etc. You can also go granular in terms of how long did it take (time lag) for the bulk of you audience to convert.

With that said, what really is media buying? Simply put, media buying is the process of strategising (always), negotiating (sometimes) and purchasing ad placements, or inventory across different publishers, ad networks, agencies and platforms alike.