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Media Buying Insights

Media Buying vs Media Planning – 3 Key Differences

Media Buying vs Media Planning – what’s the difference? Media Buyers and Media Planners have closely-related roles. Planners help to enable the success of Buyers, and Buyers help to produce data to inform Planners’ strategies.

That symbiote relationship can create a feedback loop of measurable results. Did you know that effective media buying can increase ad efficiency by up to 50%?

You could do a lot with an ad budget that’s 50% bigger, but how can you claim this budget boost? Working with an experienced media buying agency like Percepture can help your ad dollars go farther, but… how?

Let’s take a look at the relationship between media buying and media planning. How are they different? How do they relate? And, how do they combine to create powerful campaigns that maximize budget efficiency and produce results?

What is Media Buying?

Media Buying is the process of buying media space and time for advertisements on various platforms.

A Media Buyer’s objective is to purchase the best possible placement and time for an advertisement at the most efficient price.

When we talk about effective or successful media buying, we’re talking about efficiency. Great media buying places the right advertising at the right time for the right audience to yield converted customers and the kind of ROI that makes you celebrate.

To do that, you need media planning.

What is Media Planning?

Media Planning involves strategizing to determine he best combination of media channels and platforms to achieve marketing campaign objectives.

A Media Planner’s objective is to understand the demographics of a campaign’s target audience and find the most effective media channels to reach them.

Media planning is the scaffolding that supports an effective media buy. Planning a campaign involves understanding an audience, defining their demographics, and identifying the most-effective media channels to reach them.

When a media planning team achieves that goal it accelerates great media buying. A well-researched and concise media plan It allows the buys to reach father and convert faster because they are focused on the audiences and networks where a brand can tell the most compelling story.

Media Buying vs Media Planning: 3 Ways Media Planning Supports Media Buying

Now that you understand the basics of Media Buying vs Media Planning, let’s look more closely at three ways that a Media Planner and a Media Buyer differ in Campaign Strategy, Skills & Experience, and KPIs. Understanding this key differences highlights how Media Planning Supports Media Buying.

Campaign Strategy

At the start of a new campaign the overarching question is how to reach the right people at the right time with the right message.

A team of account strategists and creative designers will already be hard at work on the “right message” portion of the creative strategy.

Media Planners perform the market research to unlock the “right people” part of that question. Their knowledge of marketing strategy combined with their understanding of audience demographics and customer journeys allows them to find the right channels for the campaign’s message.

Can this audience demographic be reached more efficiently via broadcast television commercials or target podcast sponsorships? Will this message resonate across a broad audience or is it better targeted and customized to specific affinity groups?

These are the questions that Media Planners consider as they set the marketing strategy in their media plan.

Media Buyers focused on the “right time” part of the equation. When media planning selects the right media platforms based on target audience and campaign goals, media buying can leverage relationships with media vendors to securing time slots and managing budgets.

Media Buyers ensure that placements are made with maximum cost efficiency, adjusting to marketing goals by choosing the right time and place for ads within the channels on the media plan. Media Buyers set bidding strategy to land those timeslots and placements, and then work to continuously optimize based on cost and efficiency throughout the campaign.

Skills & Experience

Media Planners and Media Buyers might start out with similar job experiences as analysts, but as they specialize and become more senior their skills become more distinct.

At their core, Media Planners are analysts as well as researchers. Media planning involves strong analytical skills for market research and audience targeting combined with critical thinking to strategize a media mix.

Media Planners are constantly gathering and re-assessing data about audience demographics and media channels. Media planning uses analytics for audience insights and performs media mix modeling to optimize channel selection.

Media Planning is a complex puzzle, and Media Planners use analytical thinking to sort the pieces and put them together to create a picture of how a campaign will play out across multiple channels.

Media Buyers are analysts as well as negotiators and automation experts. That allows Media Buyers to leverage skills in relationship-building, budget management, and even algorithm management to find the maximum efficiency for each channel or platform.

Media buying involves constant measurement, comparison, and optimization. Sometimes that requires negotiating 1:1 with a counterpart at a media agency or platform for the best rates or maximum visibility. Other times, that involves negotiating within a media platform, adjusting minor details and settings to boost efficiency and lower costs.

Media buying can leverage programmatic buying platforms to automate real-time bidding and efficient ad space buying.

Key Performance Indicators

Both Media Planners and Media Buyers want a campaign to succeed and are focused on ROI! However, there are subtle differences in how they will measure success and leverage that information for future campaigns.

Media planners measure success based on the campaign’s effectiveness in reaching the target audience. They will be focused on the performance of each channel or media property to understand how they fit with the demographics of the audience. Planners will want to know if they should use those similar channels again in the future.

Media buyers also care about effectiveness, but they are more focused on efficiency as it will be viewed by their end client. Media buyers will be focused on ROI measures like campaign reach and lowering the cost per click or cost per impression.

Align Media Planning & Media Buying for Success

We believe that there’s no such thing as a optimized media buy without thoughtful media planning. As a digital marketing & PR agency with a global reach, we’ve planned media for campaigns in print and digital channels across four continents. Each time, our goal is to understand the demographics and customer journey mapping that will make a campaign successful at the planning stage so that we can be laser-focused on efficiency at the

If you’re ready to focus on media planning & media buying for your next campaign, get in contact today.