More Effective Media Buying: Part 1

There’s No One Right Answer

Which is a better advertising buy: radio or television? How many times should an ad appear in the newspaper? How long should an advertising campaign last? These are questions marketers must ask. Unfortunately, there is no one right answer.

What Are Marketers to Do?

Placing advertising buys has become such a complex activity that hiring a professional is often the smartest and most cost-effective route to take. It takes time to make media placement decisions, and an expert will know how to spend valuable marketing budget dollars judiciously. However, you can do it yourself if you’re willing to invest the time to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of media placement. Here’s what you need to know when buying media or working with a media buyer.

Each advertising medium has a unique way of “proving” its worth. To make an “apples-to-apples” comparison of media effectiveness, you must look at what the industry calls reach and frequency.

Reach is the number of people an advertising message reaches. The more people who hear or see the message, the greater the reach and the higher the advertising rate will be. In the industry, reach is often expressed as a “rating.” The reach rating formula is:

media buying calculation


Reach should be as targeted as possible, both geographically and demographically. Your institution’s size and location determines the geographic target. A demographic target is determined by identifying which customers or prospects would most likely buy your products.


Frequency is the number of times the targeted audience sees or hears your message, and is usually expressed as an average. An advertising message is normally placed more than once, which means, in any given audience, some people will see/hear the message only one time while others will see/hear it a number of times.


Day Parts – dividing the day into meaningful buying parts.  Examples: early fringe, late fringe, prime time

Avails – commercial inventory available for sale

Drive Time – popular time of day for radio best audience.  Ex: AM drive time is 6a to 10a, mid day drive time is 10a to 3p, PM drive is 3p to 7p.

GRP’s – Gross Rating points, Reach x frequency, measures total rating points during a campaign.

Rtg – total amount of HH’s viewing program during a specific day part

CPP – cost per point, used best for comparing rate averages after total buy computed



A common rule of thumb in advertising is that just about the time an advertiser can’t stand to hear his advertising message repeated, is when the audience is finally noticing it!


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