4 Steps to easily understanding media buying and analytics

Key takeaways:

  • Media buying is the process of purchasing ad space or impressions to get your ad campaign in front of the right sets of eyes
  • It includes analytics and performance testing, which inform your ad strategy moving forward
  • A successful media buying process includes four steps: strategizing, targeting your audience, setting up your campaign, and tracking its performance
  • A common pitfall is blindly targeting cheap impressions without considering the actual goals of your campaign
  • Talking to a media buying expert can help inform your approach and ensure the best results

If you’ve ever stumbled upon banner ads while searching Google or browsing a website (we all have), then you’ve seen the end result of the media buying process. The same is true when you hear radio ads or see a commercial on TV. It’s all the result of careful media buying and analytics.

Media buying is all about getting your brand, product, or service in front of the right target audience. It requires strategic thought and planning to get it right.

Of course, your job isn’t done once you’ve completed a successful media buy. At that point, you need to have a plan to monitor performance via the right analytics and data reporting. Then, you have to use that information to inform and adjust your media buying strategy going forward.

Like all digital marketing processes, what works today won’t necessarily work next quarter, so you have to be flexible and evolve your strategy as your needs change. Here’s what you need to know about media buying, including a rundown of strategy and analytics:

First things first, what is media buying?

Media buying is the process of buying ad space on digital platforms (such as YouTube or Facebook) or offline platforms (like radio and TV). As a media buyer, you’re responsible for optimizing your ads for performance, managing an advertising budget, and negotiating with ad publishers for placement.

There are two types of media buying. The first is direct buy, which involves working directly with an ad space publisher, for instance, by contacting a website about ad placement. The other type is programmatic buy, which uses automation to buy the best ad placements with the lowest impression costs.

The traditional direct buy process involves reaching out to publishers, building relationships, and negotiating your ad placement the old-fashioned way. Programmatic buying is less personal, but you save time by automating the process of buying impressions.

Why you need an analytics strategy alongside the media buying process

You simply can’t go into media buying without having an analytics strategy, too. It’s your responsibility to track ad performance and adjust your plan based on what’s working (and what’s not). Some good KPIs to start with include:

  • Return on investment (ROI): Are impressions turning into conversions, which then turn into sales?
  • Return on ad spend (ROAS): What profit do you make from the budget you’re allocating to advertising?
  • Scalable conversion to sales (SCS): Is your campaign effective at driving sales?
  • Effective frequency: How often does your audience see your message before they decide to act on it and buy in?

That being said, your analytics absolutely depend on your specific media planning strategy. Focus on what you’re trying to achieve – do you want to boost brand awareness? Increase your email list? Grow conversions? While it’s always a great idea to track the metrics already mentioned, you should add to your list of metrics based on your media buying goals.

4 steps to a successful media buying process

Media buying requires a strategy, also known as media planning. Putting thought into your ad buys before you actually spend any budget can help ensure the results you want. You can launch a successful ad campaign by implementing these four steps:

1. Strategize your ad campaign

This step is also called the media planning phase, and it has to take place before you make any other choices. Before you buy any ad space or impressions, ask yourself this: What’s your goal here? Your goal can be awareness, traffic, engagement, or conversion (or really, anything that a successful ad campaign can achieve).

Based on that answer, come up with the metrics you want to follow. You’ll need them to track campaign performance and evolve your campaign as it becomes clear what you need to change.

Finally, set a budget. For long-term campaigns, the budget is often daily, but you can set a monthly, quarterly, or annual budget as well. (The daily budget is simply easier to manage for most campaigns.)

2. Decide which viewers to target

Now it’s time to decide who you’re targeting and where they hang out so you can launch the appropriate campaign. For instance, if you’re launching a pet care product, you want to target consumers who are animal lovers. You can target them on pet-oriented YouTube channels and websites with pet-friendly content.

Plus, you can delve even deeper. You can target your audience by the device they use, their physical location, their shopping behaviors, their social media interests, and more.

3. Set up your campaign

The next step is setting up your actual campaign. This process is going to vary depending on the media buying platform you choose to use.

At this point, you need to have your campaign details ready. If you don’t have them already, then you need to have:

  • Campaign type
  • Creative assets (ad copy and images)
  • Budget
  • Target audiences

You may also need to have a bidding strategy ready. This is part of the earlier first step, where you planned your media buy. Once you have all your details input, then it’s time to launch the ad campaign!

4. Track performance and make changes

You’ve launched – now what? Now it’s time to monitor the performance of your campaign by tracking analytics as we discussed earlier. You can track a plethora of metrics and get a ton of information, but one good strategy is to try out some A/B testing early on.

If you’re running a campaign to promote a pet product, then try launching two different static image ads with different copy. Which one performs better? You can reallocate your budget to that ad placement to maximize your performance.

Common media buying and analytics pitfalls

One of the biggest mistakes that ad buyers make is jumping the gun on an ad placement without truly thinking through their goals. Cheap impressions may be intriguing, and even an important part of your strategy in some cases, but in other cases, that strategy simply doesn’t work.

For instance, if your biggest goal is awareness, then you can choose an ad placement that gets you plenty of impressions for a low cost per impression. However, if you want click-throughs and eventually sales, you’ll need to adjust your strategy – cheap impressions are not the ideal strategy for conversion!

Bring your needs to the experts

Don’t have the time to become an expert on media buying, but want to reap the benefits? Now’s a great time to consult with a media buying specialist to answer your questions and even outsource the process. Talk to Model B’s team of marketing and advertising experts to fine-tune your advertising approach and get transformative results.