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Media buying is the process of purchasing advertising space within the correct channels so that your message has the best chance of reaching the target market. Traditionally, popular channels have been newspapers, magazines, television, and radio.

However with increasing options available, particularly in digital advertising where spending has risen from £200 million in 2002 to over £5bn in 2012; the process of buying media has become an ever more convoluted and confusing process. To help you pick your way through a potential minefield, here are ten ways to maximise your media buying strategy.

1. Set objectives

Before you do anything it is vitally important that you decide what you want to achieve. Your decisions here will act as your objectives and these will have a massive influence on your media buying strategy. Examples of the type of objectives you may decide to set include: ‘to generate awareness for a new or existing product or service’ and ‘to improve sales’.

2. Pinpoint your target market


Who buys your product or service? Who would you like to aim your product or service at? The answer to these two questions will allow you to pinpoint your target market. Once you have determined who they are, you need to collect data that defines their characteristics. The criteria you will need to look into for achieving this includes but is not exclusive to age, gender, income and geographical position.

3. Conduct research into your target market

The effort and the extent to which you conduct market research into your target market will have a profound effect on how well you are able to maximise your media buying strategy. Your market research should allow you to discover the types of media that your target market watch, read, listen to and surf. There are a number of ways to set about collecting this data. The first is through primary sourced information which involves asking your target customers directly. The second is through secondary research, obtained through an indirect source. Here is some more information on primary and secondary research.

4. Calculate your budget

The only sure-fire way of ensuring that you don’t overspend when media buying is to set a budget and then stick to it. There are a number of common methods for setting a budget, but the most important thing to remember is only spending as much as you can afford. This way you can construct a strategy for maximising your media buying without compromising your business.

5. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of all the media channels

Now you are privy to the types of media that your target market are exposed to, you will need to evaluate how well each is suited to communicating the marketing messages that will help you achieve your objectives.

Each of the different media channels available have a unique set of qualities that make them better suited to fulfilling different objectives. However, even if the media has the requisite qualities to help you achieve your objectives – if your target market does not watch, read, surf or listen to that media in high enough numbers – it will still more than likely fail.

6. Make use of available audience measurement tools

You need to make use of available resources that provide numbers and profiles of the types of people consuming media across the UK. Market research companies such as Kantar Media do this for both traditional and digital channels, whilst the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board continues to provide less specialized information on the viewing figures for TV. Newspapers and magazines also provide media packs that provide those who want to advertise within their publications information that profiles their readerships.

7. Calculate the cost per thousand (CPM) of your favored media

CPM allows you to calculate the cost of exposing a marketing message via a particular medium to a thousand people. Using the data you have acquired via audience measurement tools you can calculate how much it will cost you to reach a thousand of your target market through a particular media. From here you can calculate if your budget will allow you to advertise in the most relevant media, as well as which provide the most cost-effective options. Both of which will allow you to be more measured with your media buying strategy.

8. Test in small scale


Once you have decided on the mix of media you wish to purchase, test the water by buying a small amount of each at first. This will allow you to examine what works and which media is proving to be successful in achieving your objectives. Using a small amount of trial and error can prevent you investing too much money in advertising space that isn’t serving its purpose as intended.

9. Negotiate and be clear on what you are paying for

You should always try and negotiate yourself a better price, as it is always better to ask- and you never know when you might be able to secure yourself a better deal.

Also make sure you are clear on exactly what it is you are paying for. For example, are you paying per advert or a bulk price? If the advertisement is online, make sure you are clear on the rate you are paying. Is it a click-through rate (CTR) – the number of people who click on an advert to be redirected for more information?  Is it cost per action – where the advertiser pays only after a user completes a certain action, for example a purchase? Or is it a conversion rate – the amount of users that complete a transaction?

10. Hire an expert

Companies such as Space & Time Media have all the required expertise at hand to make sure you are spending your marketing budget effectively and efficiently. They will also have experience of the best channels whether it be TV, radio, newspaper or online to use in order to communicate a specific message to a particular target market.

Even if you do resort to using the services of a professional company, you should still conduct the research as detailed in this guide to ensure that you are able to get the best out of your working relationship.

If you have any additional tips on developing an effective strategy for buying media, please share them in the comments section below.

Posted by James Duval

James Duval is an IT Services Manager and Business and Technology Editor of GKBCinc. He loves to write about the latest advances in technology and explore how it changes our everyday lives.

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