Media buying—how can we wrap a bow on that term? In the realm of advertising, media buying is "the procurement of media inventory." To media buy is to "negotiate price and placement for advertisements.” (Wait—but what does that even mean, truly?) When a media buyer is asked to explain his or her job, the answer is typically something along the lines of "I buy space." But since media isn't actually a tangible thing, it's not the easiest function to explain.

Here's a breakdown of how the art of media buying and placement really works in marketing.

What it Is

This world is full of talking to people (i.e., sales reps), compiling information, negotiating rates and added value (i.e., extra, free stuff) and putting together the best plan for your client, based on the goals. The key to media is sending a message to the right person, in the right place, at the right time.

What You Need to Know

So if you're a business trying to hit that perfect moment in time when a consumer is ready to receive your message, what do you need to know about media placement?

  • You need to know your end consumers. You need to know who they are, what they do and how they engage with your brand on a day-to-day basis.
  • You need to know your goals. This is by far the most important. Knowing the goals—specifically the target audience—will be an intricate part of actually buying the right media for your needs. If you don’t know who you're trying to target, how can you reach that audience?
  • You need to know your options. Once you have an audience defined, you can quickly scale your options and know what kind of mediums you need to use in order to hit the audience based on your business goals.

Traditional Media That Still Works

Though digital media is a giant presence in today's advertising world, traditional media (i.e., TV, radio, print, billboards) still carries a great deal of weight when it comes to media buying and placement. While some traditional methods are slowing down faster than others, the following methods are not to be counted out.


TV tends to tell a story in a different way—one that you can't necessarily tell through just a digital ad popping up while you’re searching for furniture online. It can resonate with a person watching, and pull emotion out of the consumer. Frequency is key when it comes to buying TV. The first or second time you see a specific commercial, you don’t necessarily retain it. You need to see it at least five or six times until you fully retain the information. Even in the world of Netflix and Hulu, regular TV has not lost viewership significantly enough to discount this type of placement. People still depend on local stations for “appointment TV,” such as news and live sporting events—styles of programming that people don’t usually DVR.


Many assume that radio and print are dead mediums—with Spotify, Pandora and access to news online at just a click of a button. However, there are some markets that still heavily rely on these types of mediums. Rural communities that don’t have great cell towers in order to adequately stream audio still rely on traditional radio. And frequency is key with any radio buy, as well. The key is knowing where your audience is and making sure you reach them at the right time.


Billboards are a great supplement to any media buy, especially if you are running a TV ad. The more presence you have, the more people will see your message. When media works together—from seeing an ad on TV, to hearing it on the radio and then seeing it again in billboard form—it's hitting your consumer several times a day, keeping you top of mind.

Media is Multi-Channel

Although a digital wave has taken over, and the ability to buy digital space based solely on a customer’s behavior online is a game-changer, traditional media is still a very important part of any advertising campaign. Remember that traditional and digital media really do work together to create a strong campaign across all channels in order to reach the right person, at the right place, at the right time. The options are endless, and the more you make the media work together, the greater success a campaign will have.

That's where a high-quality media buying and placement specialist can make the most of your budget and maximize your reach. Click below to make your media strategy impactful and resonant with the Epicosity team.

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