Dipping Your Toes Into Digital Media Buying

Listen to the article:

It’s confusing, if not slightly convoluted. That’s right; we’re talking about media buying.

With more and more people, especially millennials, cutting the cord to their cable providers, brands have been trying to find new ways to reach and connect with their audiences. At first, social media was the place to do so, but with each platform becoming more and more saturated with content, brands had to search for other mediums.

Then came the rise of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. Now, almost every cable channel has an online streaming option as a way to reach the cable cutters. But how does all of this play into digital media buying? Follow along to find out.

What Is Digital Media Buying?

First off, let’s break down what exactly digital media buying is. Mediaocean explains media planning and buying as, “the process of strategizing, negotiating and purchasing ad placements.” That seems simple enough, right? Well, hold on just a minute. Back in the day, all a brand had to do was pick up their phone and call up their media rep to begin their media buying process. In today’s day and age, people are no longer in control of the whole process. Instead, it’s a complex system of computers that are placing the ads, adjusting bidding and controlling when the ad appears to online users.

Don’t worry; the fun doesn’t stop there! To judge the success of an ad, there isn’t one rating number that says yes, this ad was a success or no, this ad underperformed. There are hundreds of factors that determine success.

LUMAscapes: Explaining the Ecosystem

To make understanding the world of media buying easier, LUMA partners work to organize the ecosystem, which they call LUMAscapes. Here’s an example of a LUMAscape, which explains the process of display media buying:

Luma landscape. 

At first glance, the LUMAscapes can be an overwhelming explanation of digital media buying. However, with some dedicated time and a little patience, these charts are an excellent breakdown of the different media buying processes, especially since they provide an overview of the different agencies and organizations that could be a part of the process. Specifically, there are seventeen types of LUMAscapes explaining the many ways a brand can approach media buying.

The History of Media Buying

This video, The Adaptive World, was created by media powerhouse MindshareWW. In just over two minutes, this video explains how the evolution of technology, culture and information has created a world in which being adaptive is essential. Take a moment to watch the video:

Why Should Your Brand Tap Into Media Buying?

As we mentioned earlier, more and more young people are cutting the cable cord in favor of streaming their favorite television shows. While broadcast media may work for an older crowd, according to the most recent Nielsen Comparable Metrics Report, only thirty percent of 18-34 years old have a live TV subscription. This means that a brand could potentially be missing up to seventy percent of the millennial audience if a brand is only placing broadcast and network media.

Seventy percent is a big number, especially if the elusive millennial market is the one you’re trying to capture. Data shows that the marketplace is (if not already has) shifted towards video viewing on digital devices. Furthermore, the decline in effectiveness for live television commercials in reaching millennials is evident. If you still believe that TV commercials are effective at reaching your audience, ask yourself these questions:

  • How are you reaching individuals who rarely or simply doesn’t watch live television?
  • Does your brand have marketing efforts that are beyond television?
  • How do you measure the effectiveness of your television media buys?

How did you find yourself answering these questions? If the answers weren’t quick to come to mind, it might be time to reevaluate the effectiveness of your brand’s marketing strategy.

How to Dip Your Toes Into Media Buying

Depending on your brand’s goals and objectives, there are different ways that you could start to dip your toes into the world of digital media buying. But what’s the best way to start the digital media buying journey?

  • Identify your target audience. This may seem obvious, but it’s important to know who you’re trying to reach. Ask yourself questions, such as what is the target audience’s age? What is their average income? Is it a male or female that I am trying to reach? Nailing down the answers to these questions will help when it comes time to start placing media.
  • Watch webinars. Learn first hand from professionals who have years of media buying under their belts. The digital experts at eMarketer have media buying webinars, as does Sizmek (formerly Rocketfuel), a media buying vendor.
  • Read media buying specific blogs. Valassis Digital (formerly MaxPoint), a media buying vendor, has an excellent blog explaining the different aspects of media buying. Whether it’s about targeting, promotion strategies or how to maximize Valassis Digital’s digital audience data, their blog is an excellent resource for someone beginning their journey with media buying.
  • Talk with different vendors. Depending on a brand’s goals and budget, some vendors will be better suited for the brand than others. For example, some ad exchanges may not be accessible to a company unless they have a budget of at least $10,000. Or maybe you need to ensure that an ad tech vendor’s practices align with your goals; either way, set up multiple calls with various media partners to discuss goals, audiences you’re hoping to reach, timeline and budget. These calls will help you determine which ad networks or exchanges to participate in, which ad tech to use, how to verify your clicks and more.

We talked to our friend Kate over at Valassis Digital about what advice she would give someone who is just starting to dive into digital advertising and what they should know about working with a vendor. This is what she had to say:

“For someone new to media buying, the size, complexity, and near-constant evolution of the digital advertising ecosystem can be daunting. Embedding yourself with a technology provider who is transforming the industry rather than just keeping pace is crucial to delivering on your (or your clients’) goals consistently, despite the constantly shifting ground underneath.

When you’re parsing out sales pitches, you’ll recognize a trendsetter because they’ll look at your consumers in a surprising way. A great example is location data. Is the partner just analyzing where a consumer is right at the moment, or are they also considering the larger relationship between location and consumer identity? Where you come from—your home neighborhood—is a powerful statistical indicator of spending power and lifestyle. Visits to stores and other locations reveal retailer preferences, how far consumers are willing to travel to shop, and whether they’re likely to be in-market for specific products.

Location certainly isn’t the only example, but it’s the kind of transformative thinking that sets a great partner apart from me-too technologies. You’ll know it when you see it.”

-Kate Shepard, Account Executive, Valassis Digital

The Difference Between Traditional and Digital Media Buys

When a traditional agency places a media buy, whether it’s on television, radio or newspaper, or a digital media placement, they often have a “set it and forget it” mentality. This means that once the buy is placed, they don’t ask for metric reports from their vendors or they don’t try to optimize their digital campaigns for maximum performance.

On the other hand, when a digital agency places a media buy, they’re more likely to ask for reports regarding how well their placements are performing. Furthermore, digital agencies want their campaigns to outperform expectations, so they’ll jump into the media buy and make optimizations, whether that’s copy updates or new images.

The below graph shows the results of a digital media buying campaign we ran for a client. When the campaign wasn’t performing as we had hoped, we redesigned the image to be more click-friendly for users. As a digital company, Blue Compass understands the behaviors that make people click on an ad, as well as what annoys web users. Because of this knowledge, we were able to optimize and improve the campaign, allowing it to perform exceptionally well.

Media Buying CTR

Ready to Dive Into Digital Media Buying?

You’ve come to the right place. As experts in digital, Blue Compass can help you reach the audience you’ve been trying to capture, but haven’t quite nailed down. If you’re ready to start dipping your (digital) toes into media buying, drop us a line today.

Like this blog? Take a look at more Blue Compass content!

Blue Compass logo
Blue Compass

Blue Compass is a leading team of digital experts helping brands succeed online through web design, development and digital marketing.