Media Planning and Buying Services in the Digital Age: Redefining the Advertising Landscape

Understand the evolution of media planning and buying in this digital-centric era, and how it can redefine your brand’s advertising strategy for optimal results.
A full-service solution: your new media planning and buying agency

Regardless of a business’ size or commercial sector, outlining and implementing a successful ad campaign is a risky, time-consuming, and expensive task. The investment and expertise required to access premium inventory often exceed the resources of a single business, leading many to restrict themselves to digital media platforms that offer out-of-the-box solutions.

The advent of digital media, hasn’t solely served as a platform for advertising; it has transformed the industry by opening up the arena of programmatic purchasing. This revolutionary approach has reshaped the dynamics of the media buying industry, allowing businesses of all sizes to tap into premium inventory previously dominated by larger corporations. By automating the buying, placement, and optimisation of advertising, programmatic purchasing has democratised access to high-value digital spaces. It promises efficiencies in cost, time, and relevance that are transforming the media buying landscape.

And so, the question inevitably arises: in this new age of programmatic purchasing and digital media dominance, is there still room for the traditional roles of media planners and media buyers? These roles, steeped in decades of industry history, have been the architects of numerous successful ad campaigns. Are they on the brink of redundancy, or is their expertise even more critical in this complex, data-driven era?

This article will explore the multifaceted dynamics of media buying and planning in the digital age. We will consider the benefits of programmatic purchasing, its implications for smaller businesses, and the continued relevance (or possible obsolescence) of traditional media planners and media buyers.

Media Planning vs. Media Buying

Before we delve any deeper, it’s best to nail down exactly what we mean by media planning and media buying: what are the differences between these two services?

In the simplest terms, media planning involves the process of researching and targeting potential audiences, whilst media buying involves the actual purchase of ad space.

In practice, these two disciplines operate in conjunction with each other, with media buyers relying on the insights and data generated during the planning process. By leveraging sophisticated analytics and data, a media planner can pinpoint exactly where your ad should be seen to deliver marketing objectives – be it on a billboard in Piccadilly Circus, or an online banner campaign targeting users across multiple markets. The media buyer’s job is to then go out and make the purchase, ensuring that you secure the best possible rate for ad inventory.

Of course, both media planners and buyers work closely with clients to ensure they are meeting their objectives and delivering a positive return on investment. Ultimately, it’s the combination of these two services that enable businesses to scale their campaigns beyond what they could on their own.

Media Planning

What Is Media Planning?

In short, media planning is the process of determining which media outlets are best suited for a particular advertising campaign. This includes selecting the right channels, understanding the target audience and their buying behaviours, and analysing competitor data to inform decisions.

The media planning process is typically performed by marketers with a strong understanding of media buying and consumer behaviour, as well as the industry in which they’re working. The goal is to create a comprehensive media plan that will help the client reach its target audience effectively while achieving its media objectives and desired return on investment.

What Do Media Planners Do?

Market Research

Extensive market research is key to the media planning phase. This includes analysing the target audience, their buying behaviour, and any relevant trends in the industry. This data is then used to create a profile of the client’s ideal customer and develop a plan for reaching them with the right message.

An ad campaign’s performance is directly linked to the accuracy of what this research reveals – the more accurate it is, the higher its chances of success.

Media Goals and Objectives

Once the market research has been completed, media planners will use this information to set measurable media goals and objectives. These might include increasing brand awareness, driving website traffic, or generating leads.

It’s important to note that these goals should be focused on a specific outcome and not solely on activity metrics such as impressions or clicks (a common practice in digital advertising and online media buying). Instead, your media agency will focus on results-driven metrics such as conversions, ROI and cost per acquisition.

Marketing Strategy

Developing an overarching media strategy is vital for ensuring media buying efforts aren’t in vain. This involves outlining the objectives of the campaign, projecting costs, and accounting for online and offline channels.

The marketing strategy will identify target audiences across a range of demographics, and help to match the right target audience with the right media channels. The creation of this media buying guide is an essential step in the media planning process, as it helps to inform which channels should be used and how much budget should be allocated to each.


Speaking of budget, the media planner’s job is to ensure the client’s budget is used wisely. This includes determining how much should be spent on each channel, as well as any additional fees such as advertising costs or production costs necessary to yield a successful marketing campaign.

The media planner will also need to consider the overall cost of the campaign, including any third-party services and any additional costs such as creative development or media buying.

By leveraging sophisticated analytics and data, a media planner can pinpoint exactly where your ad should be seen to deliver marketing objectives – be it on a billboard in Piccadilly Circus, or an online banner campaign targeting users across multiple markets.

Media Buying

What Is Media Buying?

Media buying is the process of purchasing ad space across different media outlets such as newspapers, magazines, television, radio, and online. The goal of this activity is to reach the intended audience with ad creatives that resonate with them.

Traditionally, media buyers work directly with media outlets to negotiate rates and terms for ad placements. They leverage their collective purchasing power to ensure the best prices for media space and also provide advice and recommendations to help clients get the most out of their campaigns.

In today’s digital world, media buying is more sophisticated than ever before, with media buying services now using advanced programmatic buying tools and platforms to automate the process and optimise campaign performance. These tools allow the media buyer to target specific audiences across a variety of channels, adjust bids and marketing budgets in real-time, and measure campaign performance through detailed analytics.

What Do Media Buyers Do?

Select Ad Inventory

Both analogue and digital media buying require careful selection of ad inventory before the campaign can begin.

A media buyer will take the time to understand the nuances of the various media platforms available and work to ensure ad spend is carefully deployed to deliver a client’s marketing message where it will have the greatest impact.

Media buyers should also understand the reach of the outlets from which they are purchasing inventory, and determine if that reach is appropriate for their clients’ target audiences.

Negotiate Prices

Ad placement is wholly dependent on an organization’s marketing budget, and it’s vital for media buyers to ensure they are getting the best possible price for their client’s ad inventory. With so many media buying services vying for attention, buyers must have strong negotiation skills and a keen eye for a good deal.

A key benefit of working with a dedicated media buying company is the collective buying power they bring to the table. By working with a media buying team, clients can access better prices and more attractive terms than they would be able to negotiate on their own.

Implement Ad Campaigns

Media buyers are responsible for the implementation of the client’s campaign. This includes setting up campaigns across the appropriate ad platforms, preparing tools for monitoring campaign efforts, and putting out fires if and when they arise.

They must also establish mechanisms for pivoting and readjusting the media plan if performance falters or there are changes to the client’s objectives. All of these activities must be carried out within the parameters of the campaign budget, so media buyers must be mindful of expenditure while still delivering the desired results.

Monitor Campaign Performance

The media buying process involves monitoring ad performance in both the short and long term. This not only allows them to show clients where their media plans are paying off, but also allows them to optimize ads and campaign goals on the fly.

In terms of digital marketing and online advertising, this process is relatively simple. Tools like Google Analytics help media buyers analyse ad impressions, examine conversions, and gain insights into where ads reach the client’s target market effectively.

For out-of-home advertising and similar physical channels, the tracking process is a bit more difficult. However, media buyers often have relationships with third-party data providers who can provide insights into ad performance.

Business company accountant having management chart working on development plan.

The Future of Media Buying

As mentioned, media buying – and indeed the marketing industry as a whole – has been drastically transformed by the advent of digital media and automation.

With search engine optimization used to generate leads and a huge number of digital platforms offering unparalleled reach, many businesses have chosen to eschew adding dedicated buyers to their media mix, often relying on their internal marketing or sales team to dispatch ads across social media.

In response, the role of the media buyer has evolved. Media buyers of today use their extensive skills and industry knowledge to leverage and sync advertising opportunities across both online and offline channels. A key element of this is programmatic buying, which helps businesses to deploy targeted ads to new customers automatically (and with astonishing efficacy).

What is Programmatic Buying?

Programmatic buying is a form of automated purchasing that leverages real-time bidding to purchase ad inventory in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

With programmatic buying, a media buyer can target specific audiences and get better bang for their buck by leveraging data to optimise campaigns on the fly. This automated approach helps to eliminate manual bidding processes and cuts down on costs associated with traditional media buying and negotiation.

Additionally, programmatic buying provides a more granular level of control, allowing media buyers to choose the type and quantity of inventory they want to purchase. This means that campaigns can be finely tuned for maximum ROI, using zero- and first-party data to run ad placements with incredible accuracy.

Programmatic media buying is set to be a key part of the buying process in the current decade. As such, it’s important for media buyers to understand how this technology works and how it can be used to increase the effectiveness of their campaigns

Media Planning and Media Buying Experts

When it comes to your business’ marketing campaign, you don’t want to settle for less. You want an expert team who can synchronise your analogue and digital media buying efforts. You want media planning masters, who can develop a successful ad campaign that meets your objectives and accounts for the limitations of your budget.

At Media Buying, we offer a wide range of media planning and buying services to ensure your campaigns are an unqualified success. We have extensive experience in both online and offline marketing, meaning that no matter what type of campaign you’re running, we can help you achieve your goals.

Contact our team today to get started on your new media plan.


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