The idea behind being a media buyer sounds simple enough: they are responsible for buying up advertising time and space in a number of different advertising arenas. Simple right? Not even a little bit!
There are two types. General Marketing media buyers and Direct Response media buyers. More often than not, as an advertiser, you will be working with General Marketing media buyers.
General Marketing media buyers are people who will base your ad buy on a number of published factors: the price of the advertising in various local markets, the availability of advertising in local markets and the likelihood that your advertising will see a return in the areas available. These buyers rely on information provided to them by the different markets: media guides, station rate cards, etc. Often this material is outdated-media rates change quickly! Sadly, while hiring one might seem like a great way to save yourself some time, it will actually be better for you to contact each market directly and work with them individually. That way you can make sure that your price points are accurate.
If you get the chance to work with a Direct Response media buyer, however, you should absolutely do it. They are buyers who have in depth knowledge of the different markets that you are trying to target. They know which areas will show the greatest rate of return on your advertising investment. They have built up relationships with the various media outlets and can often get you a far better deal than a general marketing one can get. What’s more, Direct Response media buyers will know how to adjust your media plan to make sure you aren’t wasting money.
The truth is that both types of media buyers are “middle men” who act as the go between to connect your product (and advertising budget) with the markets you wish to target. They will work with radio station managers, television station managers, newspaper sales departments, local periodicals, etc. They save you the time it would take you to do all of the research yourself.
The trick is, though, that usually they take a percentage of your media budget to pay for their time and services. Depending on how large your target market might be, you might be better off doing this yourself and saving some money.
Really, it’s up to you. There are plenty of them in the various advertising agencies out there who will tell you that hiring a media buyer is the only way to make money with your advertising. In some markets this might be true. In your market it might not. Do your research before enlisting anyone to help you. That way you can be sure that you won’t be taken advantage of. Remember, they are trying to make money too! Making sure you know your market is the best way to ensure that you won’t get taken advantage of.
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