Media buying is a big part of what we do at Thin Pig, but when we talk about it with friends and family, it is probably the service we provide that people know the least about. For the purposes of this discussion, we are defining “Media Buying” to be focused solely on “traditional media” (ie. TV, Radio, Print and Out of Home. So, what is media buying?
It works like this. A client will come to us and say they have a certain amount of money to spend on marketing their product/service next year. It is our job to research all the possible avenues for them to promote their business, and determine which platforms offer them the best exposure to their targeted demographic for the amount they have to spend.
For example, with the Seattle market, there are several media platforms and multiple channels within each to purchase. On any given client campaign, we will purchase:
- Broadcast TV (NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX)
- Cable TV (Myriad of cable channels)
- Broadcast Radio (IHeart, Entercom, Sinclair, Bonneville, Hubbard),
- Digital Radio (IHeartradio, Pandora),
- Outdoor (Clear Channel, Lamar),
- Print (Newspapers, Magazines)
- Sports Teams (Seahawks, Mariners, Thunderbirds, Seattle Storm)
Within each client’s media buy it could consist of four to five TV and Radio stations, cable, one digital radio, a few newspapers, one or two magazines, a sports team sponsorship and sometimes deeper depending on our client’s budget.
When evaluating any media buy, there are tools we use to measure overall reach and frequency. It starts with our order system Strata, along with data provided by the individual media entities that provide access to market research numbers from Nielsen, Arbitron, Scarborough, Tapscan, and PPM. We use Kantar to provide qualitative data to give us a well-rounded look at how a campaign may perform.
Ratings are like the stock market, they fluctuate every day. Folding in qualitative information, gives us the ability to see how stations’ viewers and listeners behave through use of media as well as how they interact with our clients’ businesses. With all these resources available, we evaluate the most effective media campaign for each client. After each campaign is placed, we evaluate during and after to ensure impact on all future buys being placed. By continuously evaluating results, we uncover data that helps fine tune the buy to maximize results.
Prior to any campaign being placed, we request detailed proposals from media companies being considered. Thin Pig blankets the market we are buying with a detailed RFP (Request for Proposal) from all media properties being targeted for that specific buy. In the RFP, it outlines the client’s goals, demographics, flight dates, budget, and expectations. There are several clients for which we buy annuals (meaning we will place the entire year in advance). Placing annuals ensures a client receives the best rates and inventory possible. The major benefit of annuals is a client is not at the mercy of any given month being sold out or tight on inventory causing rates to be much higher. Clients taking advantage of annual buys still enjoy the flexibility to change or cancel if need be within the two-week industry standard cancellation policy. For our annual clients, we conduct annual media meetings. Each media property will come in and present their recommendations for the upcoming year. In these meetings, we hear about new and exciting offers the entities have available. These face to face meetings allow us to immediately dig deep into the proposals and get answers quickly for our clients.
With all our clients, we work hard to always get the best rate available, not the lowest. Clients that are only focused on paying the lowest rates possible are often victims of their ad schedules being “blown out”. This simply means that their ad was supplanted by an ad from another entity that was willing to pay a higher rate. For our clients, results and value are crucial. So our team focuses on getting the most quality schedules at a reasonable price.
Another aspect of media buying that we feel is essential is having positive, constructive relationships with media companies. Thin Pig Media, truly respects our media representatives (reps) and treat them like true partners. We are in this together working to do what is right by the client. By treating our reps with this respect, they reciprocate by calling us first when something new is available, offering our clients bonus inventory when available and making sure our schedules run smoothly.
After we have accumulated all the proposals from the media properties, we sit down as a team and review each station and set a market goal. We look at programming and day parts being proposed and how each of those perform in overall ratings and shares. A schedule is created to evaluate how each station is competing within the market. We then review qualitative against each station to see how they compare on cost and overall value. Our team builds out a rough media buy knowing that we still have work to do with the vendors to negotiate the final terms. Once everything is agreed to and we are confident we have negotiated a buy that is fairly priced that will drive results, we present to the client for final approval.
The final step in a media buy is execution. The client has approved our plan and now we put it into action. All our orders are generated through STRATA which enables us to track every penny, commercial message expected, and any additional elements provided by our media partners. When the orders have been created, they are sent to each media property for their acceptance and confirmation of the orders. Each media outlet receives the ad copy or commercial or creative for that particular campaign. Throughout the campaign, we monitor to make sure all schedules are running as planned. When a campaign has ended, a detailed report is created that specifies spend by media channel, value added achieved and details around specific campaigns goals and objectives. Return on investment is evaluated with our clients based on the goals and the money and time spent on achieving those goals. These monthly reports help us make sure we are achieving the desired results of the client’s campaign.
Rinse and repeat, maybe with a tweak or two on to the next month media campaign.