The Art and Science of Media Buying

MediaBuying_Art_ScienceThe Vitruvian Man (c. 1485) Accademia, Venice
Luc Viatour /
Mona Lisa or La Gioconda (1503–05/07)—Louvre, Paris, France
Leonardo da Vinci [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Media buying is both a science and an art form. Media research resources and software programs provide valuable data about your target market’s demographic and behavioral traits. They also offer insight into the viewing habits of consumers in Designated Market Areas (DMAs). Analyzing and synthesizing this data is the science behind the media buying process. But when all information is compiled and pieced together, the art of determining the best media options for reaching your target market begins.Most media buying agencies are proficient at these scientific strategies for conducting media buys. But many ignore the art aspect of the process. So, what does the ‘art’ of media buying mean? It doesn’t mean art in the literal way, although good design and creative is incredibly important. Rather, the art of media buying means taking the impersonal, quantitative data and assigning a realistic, qualitative persona to it to achieve a thorough understanding of your market.

Understand your target market.

You must know your audience beyond just their age, location and income. It is crucial to understand the behaviors, values and priorities of your audience to best appeal to them. Research can validate your current perceptions of your target market and also lead to “Ah-ha!” moments that will be essential to the success of your campaigns.

Understand their decision-making process.

What is important to your consumers? What or who will influence them to take action? Your audience is filtering through more than 360 advertisements per day, only taking note of 150 and compelled to act on even fewer than that.  Knowing where your consumers are in the decision-making process tailors your ad to meet their exact needs, increasing your chances of recall.

Understand the goals of your media buy.

A brand awareness campaign will not be measured in the same way as a product launch campaign. Though marketing ROI can seem mysterious to many, there are key performance indicators (KPIs) and goals that can be established before your ads ever see the light of day to help measure the reach and impact of your advertisements.

No matter the channel or the size of your company, the best place to start is with a strategy. Media buying is more than an action, it’s a career. Those that have been in the industry have honed their skills to provide their clients with the best campaigns within their resources, and leverage their lifelong relationships to negotiate additional value.

Great media campaign results are achieved when an agency utilizes expert knowledge of human behavior, leverages long-standing media relationships, and draws from years of industry experience to craft the most powerful media campaign. Effective media strategies, including planning and buying, encompass much more than just placing an order. And just like your brand needs to appeal to the human nature of your audience to encourage sales, your media buying needs to have a relational element to bring extra value to the table.

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