In this article we will break down the question “what is media buying”!

Whenever you browse the internet, you may stumble upon messages labelled with sponsored tags or banner ads enticing you to buy a fabulous dress or comfortable shoes. 

Ever wonder what these ads are and why you see them so frequently showing products you want to buy? Who is behind the social media marketing and website ads that you see? 

Are there any spying devices that listen to your desires to turn them into sponsored ads? 

Well no actually, It’s MEDIA BUYING!

What is Media Buying How Does it Work — A Complete Guide

You’ve probably heard the term ‘media buying’ and wanted to know more about it but didn’t have time to read long content trying to understand it. So we have created a short, informative and easy-to-understand guide covering everything you need to know about media buying.

What is Media Buying?

Simply put, media buying means purchasing advertising space in different media outlets, such as TV, radio, newspaper and magazines. It is direct marketing that involves placing ads in the media to promote goods and services.

Media buyers are responsible for negotiating the best rate possible with media outlets while ensuring that the ads reach the target audience. They also ensure that the ads comply with all legal regulations.

That’s why media buying is a key piece of each marketing strategy because it defines how companies reach the right audiences through ads.

Additionally, Media buying allows businesses to measure their ROI by tracking the return on investment (ROI) from advertising efforts. It also helps them identify the most effective marketing channels based on their budget and business goals.

The media buying industry has changed dramatically over the last decade. Today, many different advertising options are available for businesses, including online display ads and social media posts. You can even pay for influencer posts on Instagram or Facebook that feature your brand!

The history of this concept dates back to the mid-1990s, when online advertising started gaining popularity among advertisers who wanted to reach audiences beyond their local geographic area. This task was done by assigning accounts to “media planners,” responsible for selecting optimal media placements based on budget and market conditions.

So, does it mean that if you can run an ad through social media, you’re a brilliant media buyer?

Not necessarily.

It’s more complicated than it sounds. Yes, the process of purchasing advertising from a media company is a media buy, but there is a common mistake that almost all employers make; they pay money for ads through blogs, websites, and social media channels without having a well-thought-out strategy. 

Impressive and shocking facts about Social Media in the UK

They don’t focus on their marketing goals, and the outcome will likely be unsatisfactory because some ads can match perfectly with one set of goals but are awful for another. Thus, publishing advertisements alone does not ensure a successful brand. 

That’s why there is a role for media buyers; they should be aware of everything necessary for an effective campaign. 

Media Buying Types

In this day and age, the media buy can be done in three ways:

Direct buy: the company adopts this strategy to establish relationships with publishers and negotiate some details; for example, working with a TV station to broadcast an ad at a specific time.  

Programmatic buying: The process will be done automatically, just like ads are placed in the network of sites. 

Self-serve: In this type, you have the control to place your ad wherever you want, like social media ads.

Who is a Media Buyer?

Since the dawn of commerce, marketing specialists have asked: what makes a good and successful ad campaign? It’s the same age-old question we’re striving to attain our objectives, whether generating leads, more exposure, or just telling the world who we’re. 

The answer is as simple as just two words: Media Buyers.

So what do media buyers actually do?

The media buyer is responsible for the planning and execution of advertising campaigns. They need to rent ad space for a specific time. So, they need to choose the right time and the right place. Or we can sum up their responsibilities in these five main areas: 

• Meeting with clients to discuss advertising goals

• researching different media outlets to find the best placement for ads

• negotiating rates with media outlets

• purchasing ad space

• tracking campaign results and reporting back to clients

Important: the secret of any successful marketing campaign is more than just a captivating and catchy caption or enhancing slogan in front of an audience. It’s a whole strategy, and the media buyer is the conductor. 

The key here is not to display ads on repeat. Still, it’s about creating a marketing strategy where media buyers engage directly with channels, ensuring that their company’s budget aligns with the payment plan.

Not just that, these buyers must assign the campaign most effectively. Their work may require them to corner underserviced channels or negotiate with media suppliers after scouting out the most acceptable prices. 

After settling on prices and placement of ads, media buyers ought to figure out a way to deliver all relevant campaign goals, such as boosting sales, increasing conversions, and brand awareness, or you may want all of the above. 

Where Can Media Buyers Place Ads?

Again, one of the most critical steps media buyers must go through is researching the best new venues for ads.

Ad placement, in this instance, includes both traditional and digital channels. 

As mentioned, media buyers must be aware of TV, radio, and other print ads in newspapers, magazines, and Out Of Home (OOH) ads.  

So, anything that is not digital is included in the list.

Otherwise, media buyers need to be digital advertising masters, including:

  • Display ads
  • Mobile ads
  • Paid search
  • Social media ads
  • Video ads

Anything digital is part of media buyers’ responsibilities.  

Also, we can’t overlook Digital Out Of Home or (DOOH) ads, a creative type of OOH ads using screens and other high-tech tools for more immersive and memorable campaigns, just like a dynamic display of food chain ads we can find in malls and elsewhere.

How Does Media Buying Work?

Media buyers work with media planners to implement the campaign to deliver the most effective outcome possible. Here is a guide to answering questions about how media buying works and what programmatic media buying is.

1- Know Your Target Audience 

Before renting any space to display your ads, you need to identify who you’re trying to reach. It seems more straightforward; however, don’t take it for granted. By understanding your potential customers, you can easily segment your marketing efforts and ensure that your message reaches the right people.

With all the new marketing methods being presented, you have a great chance to understand your target audience. First, consider who your ideal customer is. What are their demographics? What do they like? Or even what do they need?

You’ll be one step closer to identifying your ideal customer if you answer these questions.

As a result, you’ll be able to tailor your marketing efforts to meet the specific interests of each segment. To maximise the effectiveness of your advertising, you also should divide your potential customers into several groups.

*This step is most likely to be handled by a media planner, and once the audience persona is clear, the media buying process starts. 

2- Conducting Market Research

With all these tools, digital and offline, it’s hard to make a decision that might make or break your campaign. That’s when marketing research lies. 

So, it’s another critical step when understanding your target audience to choose the right channel to display ads. 

The research will allow us to learn about our target media habits and content. This information is invaluable when it comes to creating effective ad campaigns.

Additionally, marketing research helps us to save money as we can make more informed decisions about where to allocate our advertising budget. As a result, we can avoid wasting money on ads that our target consumers will not see.

Finally, marketing research provides insights we can use to improve our overall marketing strategy. These insights will answer the questions of your potential customers they visit, where they live, eat, shop, hang out, and so on. Also, you will know when they watch TV, when they prefer to go out, and what routes they take to work or bring their kids from school.

Just imagine how all this data will be meaningful for you!

By identifying the responses of our target demographic, we may adjust our strategy for maximum impact.

Important: There are many different ways to conduct marketing research, and the best way to do it depends on the resources available and the business’s goals. Whether you invest in surveys, focus groups, or quantitative or qualitative analysis, the most important thing is to ensure that the research is conducted properly to get accurate results.

3- Designing Advertising Campaign Goal

What makes a perfect ad campaign is to set SMART objectives, which means specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

That’s why we choose the word “design”. It’s not about setting goals like increasing brand awareness and waiting for brilliant results. It doesn’t work like that. Instead, be as precise as you can.

For example, “Drive Conversions or More Sales” are not SMART goals. 

Increasing sales by 10% within 6 months is a SMART goal because you set a benchmark to measure your campaign success during a defined timeframe. But, most importantly, it’s achievable and realistic.

So, before heading out to purchase media space for your next marketing campaign, you must first sit down and set some goals. What are you hoping to achieve with this campaign? How will you measure success? By answering these questions upfront, you’ll be in a much better position to create a campaign that hits the mark.

Without clear goals, it’s easy to get off track and end up wasting money on ads that don’t deliver results. But if you know what you want to achieve, you can make more strategic decisions about where to allocate your resources. 

Then, media buyers can choose the right location for this message and pick the best tools to track the campaign. That’s where efficient and effective media buying comes in. 

So take a few minutes to think about your objectives before moving forward with your next marketing campaign. It could make all the difference in terms of its success.

4- Setting Campaign Marketing Strategy 

When a brand gets a marketing budget, only a portion typically goes to paid ads. And while there are many levels to pull, marketers should start with the campaign strategy. 

Building this strategy will be a point to get different departments together. Yes, every department might claim their responsibilities as being the most important. But the perfect plan comes down to this: getting the proper advertising, at the right time, in front of the right people.

Learn more about marketing strategy and how to build your own

So, what must the campaign strategy include? 

Any campaign strategy comprises your budget, advertising channels, the overall ideal behind the campaign, and the creative campaign theme. To build your campaign, you can adopt the “marketing mix” concept, which means teaming up multiple platforms for a sound, fleshed-out strategy. 

Without a campaign strategy, businesses run the risk of spending money on media space that will not reach their target audience. Also, a campaign strategy ensures that all of the elements of advertising are consistent with one another. This consistency is key to maintaining a cohesive brand identity with strong and resonating messaging and driving marketing ROI.

That leads us to the most critical role of media buyers.

5- Buying Ad Placement 

Your campaign is ready to be placed in whatever you choose to make its way to your audience for the right price and at the right time. Now, it’s the process of paying for marketing efforts. 

Media buyers need to hone their negotiation skills before stepping inside this stage because they need to close the best deal assigned to the campaign strategy.

What distinguishes a successful media buyer from others is who can be able to build relationships with different channels. In addition, it will give a powerful negotiation stance for future deals.

However, digital media buying is used in automating bidding so that you can depend on programmatic bidding. 

In this step, media buyers need to take any possible measures to maximise ROI. 

Important: After an ad has been placed, it is essential to monitor its performance to ensure that it reaches the intended audience and generates results. Adjustments can be made to the ad placement if necessary.

6- Launching Ads

Here, media buyers will press the launching button, whether a typical button or say “deal” to the channel vendors. 

But hang on! The work hasn’t been over yet. 

7- Mentor the Campaign 

As media buyers, you should always look for ways to improve your campaigns and get the best results possible. One of the essential steps in this process is measuring the outcomes of our campaigns. By doing this, we can learn from our successes and failures and make the necessary adjustments to ensure our future campaigns are even more successful.

So, keep a firm eye on the metrics you set earlier. Then, watch your campaign performance and track the results. If the campaign does a great job, you might purchase additional ad placements or extend the period. But, if it goes down your expectations, now it’s time to figure out the problem and take appropriate action accordingly. 

Important: media buying is the act of learning from every campaign to improve the next one.

How Does the Process of Purchasing Ads ‍Work?

After we have gone through all possible answers to “what is media buying?” We need to focus more on the process of acquiring inventory or real estate where advertisements may be placed. 

In television buying, you must consider a variety of factors, such as space, rates, lead demand, time, and much more. So, negotiations would take more time. 

Otherwise, the buyers will do their job much quicker in choosing the rates determined based on four critical components:

  • Demand-side platforms (DSP) are software that allows advertisers to buy ad space in real time. This buying process occurs through an auction, where ad space is bought and sold in real time based on price and audience targeting factors.

DSPs offer many benefits to advertisers, including reaching specific audiences with targeted ads, buying ad space at a lower cost, and tracking ads’ performance in real-time.

  • Supply-side platforms (SSP) is a digital marketing concept that refers to adtech that allows publishers to manage the sale of their advertising inventory in an automated way. SSPs provide a self-serve interface for advertisers to buy ad space on publisher websites and apps, and they also offer tools to help publishers optimise their inventory and yield.

SSPs have become increasingly important in the ad tech ecosystem in recent years. They provide a more efficient way for publishers to sell their inventory and give advertisers more control over where their ads appear. In addition, SSPs can help publishers maximise their revenue by providing data and insights that allow them to make informed pricing and inventory management decisions.

  • Real-time bidding (RTB) is a media buying technique that allows advertisers to purchase ad space on a website or app in real time based on the value of each impression. That means advertisers can bid on ad space as it becomes available, and the highest bidder wins the ad spot.

RTB allows advertisers to target their ads more effectively and will enable publishers to maximise their ad revenue. RTB can also be used to target specific audiences based on factors like location, demographics, and interests. However, keep in mind that RTB is not the only way to get impressions; advertisers can also depend on private marketplaces. 

Important: If you choose to take advantage of private marketplaces, consider that publishers can limit who can participate in auctions.

  • Cost Per Thousand (CPM) is a way of measuring the cost of advertising without going through any bidding. Essentially, CPM is the cost of reaching 1,000 people with your ad.

CPM can measure both online and offline advertising, though it is most commonly used concerning online ads. Setting a budget and thinking about your desired reach are essential steps in developing your advertising strategy. To determine how much it costs to reach your intended audience, you can apply the cost-per-thousand-impression (CPM) method after you know your budget.

What else?

                                                 We now have another technique: Ad Networks.

What exactly is it, and what is the difference?

An ad network is a collection of websites that host advertisements. Advertisers can post their ads on the network, and the ad network will deliver the ads to the websites in its network.

Ad networks vary in size and scope. Some only work with a few hundred websites, while others work with tens of thousands. Some only serve ads in specific countries, while others have a global reach.

Also, these networks differ in the types of ads they accept. For example, some ad networks only accept text ads, while others accept rich media and video ads.

In short, they work as intermediates such as Facebook Audience Network and Think Google.

Let’s learn more about digital strategy and why your company needs one

What Determines the Price of Media Buys?

It’s a tricky question with a lot of different answers, but there are some key things to consider.

First, where to begin? What are the marketing objectives of the company? To what end is the company’s advertising directed? The answer to these questions is a milestone in figuring out how much money is allocated to media buying.

Next, what is the target audience for the advertising? The more specific the target audience, the easier it will be to determine where to spend the advertising budget. Once the target audience is defined, research can be done on which media outlets they are most likely to consume.

Also, other factors lie behind media buying prices in the digital world. For example, consider answering these questions: which pages will your ad be placed on, how many pages of the website do you want your ad to be displayed, and what is the size of your ad (long video, short banner, or something in between)?

Not to mention you should determine how many days your ads will run.

Not just that, the rate might go up or decrease depending on the traffic the website receives and the demographics of the website’s visitors.

Important: You must know how much exposure your ad is expected to receive before buying or planning because more exposure will translate into more expensive media buy. 

Finally, what is the competition doing? Keeping oneself one step ahead of competitors is critical. So then, plan how much you’re willing to spend on media buying to stay competitive.

Media Buying Steps: What You Need to Know

While this step-by-step guide explores the possibilities of “what is media buying”, you need to head up exposure volume as it will only take you so far. 

If you need to send a memorable message and receive the results you’re after, make sure to tick the following:

  • A targeted placement is more important than a high-traffic one

Of course, exposure is the essential component of any advertising campaign’s success. But you need to ask yourself, how many people will be interested in what you offer? Are they worth it to you and your brand?  

Your target audience may not see a high-traffic placement, and even if it is, they may not take action. It is best to post the ad in a strategic location to ensure that it gets noticed by those who are interested in giving your service or product a try,

  • Deliver a persuasive message to your target audience.

Conjure up what you’ve done with marketing research and make the most of this data by understanding your people’s needs, wants, and pain points. Show your audience your empathy and let them know that you see them, feel them, and are here to help them. Then explain why they should care about what you have. 

  • Spend much time crafting catchy headlines

In the media buying process, you can grab your audience’s attention with attractive headlines and ad copies. It should be short, concise, creative, or funny (why not!)

Headlines are the first thing people see. So once your ad gets published, someone will scan it for the first time and then choose whether or not to click on your content. 

What will drive them to do so? Well, headlines!

So, if your headline is boring or doesn’t accurately reflect your offering, you’ve lost that user before they even had a chance to see what you have to say. 

With so much competition and distraction out there, you need to ensure your headline captures people’s attention and motivates them to click through.

  • Use perfect visualisation 

Viral campaigns are not just about a well-matched media buying strategy. It should also entail using imagery and other visualisation elements that connect beautifully with your brand.

By perfecting your visualisation skills, you can create an ad that is truly impactful and memorable. 

  • Craft a call-to-action (CTA)

As we’re here to put a definition to “what is media buying?”, you need to know that CTA plays a significant role in making that happen. A CTA tells your audience what you want them to do, and it should be specific, clear, and easy to follow.

A good CTA will help you get the results you want from your marketing campaign. For example, if you want people to buy your product, sign up for your newsletter, or download your app, you need to tell them what to do clearly and concisely. Otherwise, they may not take any action at all.

It’s the simplest way to make your audience feel more engaged with your brand. If they feel like they’re being asked to do something easy to do, they’re more likely to do it.

Are There Any Differences Between Media Buying and Media Planning

Of course, yes!

However, their responsibilities are tangled into the same category, and each follows a different process.

While Media buying refers to the actual act of purchasing ad space. That can be done either through an advertising agency or directly with the publication.

On the other hand, media planning is figuring out where and how to place those ads. This process includes assessing the target audience, conducting market research, determining which publications reach that audience, setting a budget, and negotiating ad rates.

The media planner is responsible for building out goals and working closely with clients to understand the audience and find the type of messaging they should speak to get engaged with customers. 

In short, media planning focuses on the strategy before launching the campaign. Otherwise, the vital role of media buying is to get the most reach and impressions from the right audience. At the same time, both are working together to choose the channel.

And in small or medium companies, a person can do two things. 

What Are Media Buying Platforms?

A media buying platform is software or a tool that connects advertisers to publishers and allows them to buy ad inventory on various websites.

However, media buying doesn’t get what it deserves from the buzz in the marketing industry; these tools are responsible for managing the targeted ads we see today.

Advertisers use these platforms to automate buying ad space, saving them time and money. Many different media buying platforms are out there, each with its features and capabilities.

The main goal of these platforms is to manage your efforts in a world packed with competitive advertisers and rich targeting options.

But why is it important?

It seems that the traditional method of conducting a deal directly with a publisher sometimes doesn’t pay off. 

Also, it will help you push down the budget as much as possible, especially for small and medium businesses, as it will help you figure out the lower threshold you can spend. 

At the same time, you will ensure that you spend on only the most relevant points and spaces your brand tries to reach. 

A good media buying platform will access data and analytics to help identify the best times and places to advertise. They will also be able to negotiate discounts with vendors. These tools can free up your marketing team to focus on other aspects of their job.

Top 5 Media Buying Platforms to Manage Your Campaign

Google Display & Video 360

Google Display & Video 360 is a media buying platform that allows you to buy, manage, and measure your video and display advertising campaigns. In addition, it’s a one-stop shop for purchasing advertising space across Google’s many platforms, so you can more easily reach your target audience.

With Google Display & Video 360, you can upload your creative assets, target your audience, set up ad campaigns, track progress and results, and optimise your campaigns for better performance. You can also use the platform to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns and understand what is working and what isn’t.

However, you should make sure that your team is ready to use this tool to make the most of all its features. Otherwise, you have to offer digital marketing training for your employees to ensure they manage creative assets through the right tool. 

Amazon DSP

As a demand-side platform, Amazon DSP enables marketers to purchase placements on and its subsidiary sites. Advertisers can use Amazon DSP to reach their target audiences with highly relevant ads based on demographics, interests, and past behaviour.

Benefits of using Amazon DSP include access to exclusive ad inventory, the ability to adjust marketing strategies for maximum effectiveness, and detailed reporting that can help improve future campaigns. Amazon DSP can also be integrated with other marketing platforms, such as Amazon Advertising Console, for a holistic approach to advertising on Amazon. 

Additionally, Amazon will secure your brand image by guaranteeing that your ads appear in inappropriate environments.   

Adobe Advertising Cloud

Adobe Advertising Cloud is a media buying platform that allows you to plan, buy, and measure your advertising campaigns across all channels.

Adobe simply enables you to maximise return on ad spend (ROAS) with many optimisation options based on your target and budget.

Adobe Advertising Cloud provides in-depth information on your target demographic, allowing you to learn more about them and what they value. You may utilise this data to fine-tune your advertising strategy and get the most out of your budget.

The Trade Desk

It’s a high-end platform to let you shine through the biggest publishers, such as Wall Street Journal, ESPN, and Spotify.

The Trade Desk’s platform is designed to allow advertisers to buy media through a single interface. It offers tools for programmatic buying, data management, and analytics. In addition, the platform supports display advertising and search marketing campaigns.

It offers features like real-time bidding, creative optimisation, and audience targeting. But what you’d love about it is the AI-driven “Koa” feature which gets you exclusive access to over 600 billion daily queries to have a hand on the most cost-effective and innovative way to run your campaign. 


It’s the best media buying platform for small to medium-sized companies because it makes it easier for startups to choose from pre-designed templates to build their ad campaign.

It will be the right option if you wish to use a ready-to-go template. However, you should always consider building your own campaign reflecting your identity and customised message. 

AdCritter also provides reporting and analytics and reaches consumers based on their behaviour, so you can see how your campaigns are performing and observe their growth. 

How Can ProfileTree Help You?

If you want to launch your media campaign but are worrying about the outcome or don’t know where to start, Profiletree can help!

  • Listen carefully to you

We’re passionate about helping businesses grow online. We love what we do and can’t wait to see you succeed.

It all starts with a clear vision of what you want and where you want to go. Then, a consulting session will be held with you to listen to your objectives, problems, and desired outcomes. 

Our team is a sales performance agency rooted in the digital marketing industry for over a decade, offering a diverse selection of solutions.

We will listen to you and take notes of your thoughts until you are happy with every detail before launching your campaign. 

We believe marketing your company should be an enjoyable learning experience and a two-way process. So, consulting is an inherent part of our work. 

  • Get the experience of digital marketing masters

We are a group of skilled digital marketers with extensive expertise in developing effective strategies for establishing a strong online identity. Together, we will work to build a custom marketing plan that fits your needs and budget.

Hiring a marketing agency will cut all the hassle of trying to learn digital marketing by yourself. Indeed, you will get access to an entire team of web designers, SEO experts, content creators, marketing specialists, copywriters, and more.

You don’t need to bring in a costly marketing team in-house, we can work fully remotely online and around your schedule.

Instead, working with a marketing team will make your mission to generate sales much more accessible. We let our team share their experience and add a competitive edge to your brand image. 

People need to see your offering first. You can’t expect sales from customers if they don’t know who you are and what you can offer to them. That’s the best answer to “what is media buying?”, it is all about brand awareness.

  • Cost-effective solutions and constantly growing

Hiring the best out-sourced marketing team will cut off many unnecessary expenses against the common conception that a digital marketing agency will be too expensive.

Not only will you know how to create and manage the budget for your digital marketing efforts, but you will also know how to save money on paid advertising by optimising your campaigns and targeting your audience more effectively.

Think of the money you could keep aside if you finally figured out how to make media buying work for your business. 

A professional marketing team will keep their eyes on your campaign outcome by measuring and tracking your results so that you can see the ROI of your digital marketing campaigns, and that’s exactly what we do at Profiletree. 

As the marketing world is in flux, we constantly work on evolving our knowledge and experience to help you stand out with a reasonable budget. We are capable of changing with the times and adapting to new algorithms and updates to ensure your reach is as optimal as possible.

  • Crafting a marketing strategy that suits your niche 

We know how difficult it can be to conduct media buying, and the results can be disappointing sometimes.

When working with a marketing agency, you can stay ahead of the curve by using the latest tools and trends to create an insightful marketing strategy to reach your target audience. 

Another thing you can get from Profiletree is an agile and high level of service. 

Marketing is about flexibility, studying the industry and creating content that precisely matches the preferences of your target demographic.

  • Get access to the trendiest tools and strategies 

Feeling like something is missing is very common when you design your launching plan and trace its performance. You may notice that your competitors have nailed it, and you’re still stuck at a crossroad.

In many cases, it’s not your fault. Your competitors have taken advantage of advanced tools that make their tasks easier and more efficient.

Using new technology is part of any marketing success. Our job in Profiletree is not just to help you get access to the marketing tools; we are eager to select the right tools that will work for you. 

To sum it all up:

Media buying is a process that allows businesses to purchase advertising space to reach their target audiences. This process can be pretty complicated, but it is essential for companies that want to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace. Companies can maximise their advertising returns with the assistance of a media buying agency. 

Ready to sell more and reach your customers on a global scale? Contact us now or check out our services page to see exactly what we can offer your business.

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