What Place Does Media Planning and Buying Have in Marketing?

Leighton Engage
PPC ads graphic

At Leighton Interactive, we have a knack for making things happen. Do you need more leads, more prominence in your market, and/or more conversions? We can do all of that. While there might just be some magic involved in what we do, it’s not smoke and mirrors by any stretch of the imagination. A great marketing plan requires great planning. Just about everything we do starts with a detailed plan.

Media planning and media buying are no exception. Many times, a company’s marketing plan may be focused on achieving organic results. For example, this particular blog post may pique the interest of a web surfer who is looking for the scoop on media buying. If they visit our blog (technically defined as owned media), we’ve earned their visit through organic means (such as a Google or Bing search). 

Media buying, on the other hand, is part of a paid marketing plan. Here are a few examples of paid media:

  • Banner Ads
  • Pay per click (PPC) campaigns
  • Social media ads
  • Radio

Paid and earned media are not mutually exclusive, of course. Many marketing plans feature a multi-pronged approach that doesn't focus on a single outlet.

What is Media Planning?

Graphic with a magnet and emojisIf you’re going to invest in paid media, you definitely don’t want to rely on a shot-in-the-dark method to choose your targets. Media planning is the framework that leads to results. Once you’ve developed a budget (an important first step!), the next step is to determine what your desired outcome is. You should have some solid goals in mind (such as “increase the leads from my website by 20 percent”) that will drive the media planning process. Next, your media planning team will determine the most appropriate platform(s) to target for the audience you’re trying to reach, as well as when to run your paid media. A client once told me that he received more phone calls when he ran a commercial during Little House on the Prairie than during any other show. No kidding!

Most small companies aren’t purchasing time on network television, of course. Social media is a more likely target of most media campaigns. Even a modest budget can yield some real results from paid social media ads. It’s all about the ROI! Of course, a lot depends on what you are advertising and who you are targeting. For example, Facebook may skew a little older than other social media platforms. If you are targeting Generation Z, that might not be the right outlet. The media plan can help you to understand what kind of reach and results you can expect.

Like Peanut Butter and Jelly

Media planning and buying generally go hand in hand. A good marketing/public relations agency can help you lay out a solid, detailed plan and can also execute it for you (when money actually changes hands). Perhaps most importantly of all, they’ll be able to analyze the results of your media buys. Media planning and buying campaigns can be pretty complex, which is why most companies outsource them to marketing experts. You don't want to leave it to chance or to adopt a "trial and error" approach. 

Is Media Buying a Requirement?

Media buying is almost never a requirement, per se, but if you need to expand your brand by reaching new audiences and new geographic areas, it’s certainly worth exploring. Some companies start out with a modest paid media budget and then expand it once they feel more comfortable with the results they are seeing. The process is very data-driven, so there is no guesswork involved. Are you ready to think big? 


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