Media Buying Basics | Ad4! Group

Media Buying Basics

Have you ever been watching TV, reading a magazine, or scrolling through your social media feed and seen a perplexing advertisement? Something that just doesn’t seem to belong? Maybe you’re watching reruns of Murder, She Wrote and catch a commercial for acne cream, or you’re a young, busy bank executive whose Facebook feed is being flooded with crochet patterns. 

Right people, right time, right place


Since the dawn of sales, the key to successfully marketing your product or service is knowing your target audience. You want to place your advertising dollars where they will have the most impact — where the right people will see or hear about you at the right time and in the right place. Back in the day, traveling vacuum cleaner salesmen knew they needed to demonstrate their product to the “lady of the house,” and tire dealers understood that automobile magazines were some of the best places for them to run ads.

Today, though, getting you, your company, and your wares in front of the right audience is a much more sophisticated and sometimes complicated process. Ad placement goes well beyond traditional gender roles and age demographics. It’s now possible to pinpoint the best time and place to display your marketing efforts based on predictive analytics and a well-refined set of audience characteristics, like hobbies, peak times online, driving patterns, political leanings, family size, disposable income, personality, health, values, and sexual orientation. Audiences have become so accustomed to seeing ads for items they could actually use or benefit from that a misplaced or demographically inappropriate ad stands out like a sore thumb.

So how do you manage to ensure you’re advertising on the most appropriate channels for what you do or make or sell — and actually getting the most bang for your hard-earned marketing buck? For the best results, it pays to work with an experienced media buyer.

What’s media buying?

In basic terms, a media buyer is someone who buys advertising from advertising outlets, whether that’s television or radio commercial spots, newspaper or magazine ad space, outdoor billboards, or digital banners. “Buys” is a deceptively simple word in this case, though. The actual purchase of ad space is just the end result of a much more complicated, strategic, and delicate planning and negotiating process.

In addition to targeting a specific audience based on demographics, a media buyer takes into account a number of other factors, like the purpose of the advertising. Are you a new business just trying to raise awareness of your brand, or do you have an amazing new whitepaper you want people to download? Maybe you’re just trying to get people to check out (and subsequently purchase) a particular product. Each of these goals requires a different media buying strategy. 

A example of success

A great example of successful media buying occurred in 2020, in the heart of what became the COVID-19 lockdown. Prior to the pandemic, Ford Motor Company had purchased and placed spots to advertise vehicles that they quickly realized quarantined Americans probably weren’t looking to buy. 

Rather than cancel the spots and potentially lose their advertising investment, Ford worked closely with its media partners to pivot from a campaign focused on sales to one sending a hopeful message. The ads shared details about Ford’s payment relief program and reminded consumers that America had weathered similar storms in the past. Ford’s revamped campaign sent the right message at the right time to the right audience.

Why Ad4! Group?

When you’re looking for a media buyer, it pays to find one with relationship-building and negotiating prowess. A media buyer who has cultivated connections and partnerships with the folks responsible for selling ad spots in your area has a much better understanding of what will work best for each particular client. They can also negotiate better pricing, timing, volume, or placement of your message by using their relationships and personal experience to your maximum advantage. 

Media buying is one of Ad4! Group’s four foundational business lines — which means we’ve done it for a long time and for a lot of clients. We’ve developed strong relationships with media outlets in North Alabama and beyond, and we’ve learned how to negotiate the best media investment opportunities for our clients. To us, media buying is part science and part art — and it’s all about gaining the best return. We know how to buy media, and we won’t waste your money.

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