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What is media buying in digital marketing?

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Introduction: what is media buying and why does it matter for digital marketing?

In the world of digital marketing, media buying is buying a spot to put your ad ( in its simplest form). This can include everything from traditional display ads on websites to video ads on YouTube or social media ads on Facebook and Instagram.

If you are just starting your digital marketing career and evaluating the different avenues you can go down media buying is one that might interest you. Make sure you check out our quick guide to find out what it is, learn the basics of buying media, why media buying is a good skill to have for digital marketing, and our final thoughts on it. So if you are wondering what is going to be your expertise for your affiliate marketing journey make sure you give media buying a good look in our quick and easy to read guide.

What is media buying?

Media buying has been around … for as long as there was media. Before the internet we can’t forget that there was TV, before TV there was the radio, and before radio there were posters you could put up at stores or different places. So we can’t just think that media buying only started when the internet came along. Rather the ability to create new avenues of traffic has. The internet started with websites and has expanded to apps which can do almost anything you need in the world. Want food delivered, there’s an app for that. Want to watch a movie, there’s an app for that. And with all that traffic comes avenues for you to buy customers attention via ads.

places where a media buyer can place an ad on a phone app
Check out that ad space!

In recent years, “media buying” has become a hot topic in the world of digital marketing. But what is media buying, exactly?

What are digital media buys?

In short, media buying is the process of planning, negotiating, and purchasing advertising space on behalf of a client. 

One of the key aspects of media buying is the somewhat direct way that it works. If you work through a network or directly with a site or product you are buying a spot in their product/site/program and putting an ad in there.

It is your job to try to monetize the traffic that you receive by any means necessary ( within the regulations of that advertiser ) So you might change the ads, the landing pages, the messaging, the fonts…. anything you think of to try to get the best click through rates and conversions possible.

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, the role of the media buyer has become increasingly important which is why it will always be a skill that is in high demand.  So if you are really into analytics and optimization this might be the right path for you.

How do you prepare for a media buyer interview?

Make sure you fit what the job is looking for as your experience level should match their search. If you are too sernior or junior it will not be a good fit.

There are some things in life that you can fake it until you make it. But if you come into a Senior Media Buyer job interview and have never advertised online before it will be very clear in your interview. It isn’t something that you can just say vague statements and pick up along the way.

However, many places will look for junior positions that will teach you. So be honest, and apply to jobs that are a good fit for your current skill level.

The different types of media you can buy online

There are three high level types of media you can buy online: display, search, and social.

Display ads are the banner ads you see on websites. They can be static or animated and are usually sold on a CPM basis (cost per thousand impressions).

Search ads are the text ads that appear on search engine results pages (SERPs). They’re usually sold on a CPC basis (cost per click).

Social media ads are paid placements on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. They can take many different forms, from text-based Sponsored Tweets to rich media display ads. Social media advertising is usually sold on a CPE basis (cost per engagement), CPA basis (cost per action), or CPC basis.

Steps to getting your media to buy going

If you’re looking to get started in media buying, there are a few key steps you’ll need to take.

First, you’ll need to identify your target audience and understand what kind of message will resonate with them. This is important because you need to understand what your client wants, and needs so that your ads and the product you are promoting can align with their intent.

Once you know who you’re targeting, you’ll need to select the right media outlets to reach them. Where do the customers of your product hang out? While they are on this site, or in this program, what would get their attention? What messaging do you think would grab their attention and make them click on your ad? Get your ads right, get your rates in place, and get ready for the next step.

Getting your media buying plan setup

Next you need to set your goals, as without a goal you have nothing to strive towards. So you should be figuring out the outcome that you need to make money, break even, and a point that you might re-evaluate your strategy. It is always good to set this up before you start the campaign because this is a number and reference that you can check daily, or hourly, to see the health of your campaign.

Launch your campaign and get ready. Congrats, you have made it this far and you are ready to launch your campaign. You push start and watch your KPIs. Monitor your click-throughs, conversions, EPC, and everything else you have determined you want to watch in the previous step. If they are not hitting the numbers you need for success make sure you modify the different aspects of the campaign.

As your campaign keeps going you will see how everything is going and if you are making money or not. You can sometimes choose to extend the IO and keep the rate, or maybe you need to re-evaluate as you now know the performance numbers that your campaign is running.

The benefits of digital media buying

Digital media buying is often more cost-effective than traditional forms of advertising and can be one of the most lucrative ways of online advertising. Many times you will be able to scale successful campaigns easily and replicate the success. This is why being a great media buyer will pretty much guarantee your success with your online marketing career.

The challenges of media buying

Several challenges come with media buying, with one of the biggest being the sheer number of options available. With so many different platforms and ad types to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start. Another challenge is staying up-to-date on the latest changes and updates to each platform – things move quickly in the digital world and what worked last month may not work this month. Many platforms have their own rules that you must follow so it is easy to forget exactly which one needs if you are trying to scale and launch multiple campaigns across different platforms.

Another big challenge is managing budgets. When working with clients ( or on your campaigns), media buyers need to stay within their set budget while also getting the most bang for their buck.  It is very easy to let a budget slip away by missing some KPIs and running a negative campaign. And while you try to scale it is often hard to find the same success as you increase the volume in one particular channel or on a specific platform. This is why it can be challenging as not all users will act the same way…. but this goes back to the initial planning.

Start at the place where you think you will have the most success, the origin of your customer’s journey to your product or promotion. Then once you have it profitable, move on to another similar place and see if you can replicate the success.

Final thoughts on media buying

If you are a good media buyer you will always be able to find a job or make money. If you can have positive campaigns without losing too much in testing it will allow you to make a good amount of money that would only be limited by your drive. However, it is easy to lose money at the same time because sometimes you will think you have found the perfect place for your ads but it turns out to be a dud.

It can be used to reach a wide range of potential customers and is often used in conjunction with other digital marketing strategies, such as SEO or social media marketing. Media buying can be a complex process, but understanding the basics can help you get started and might expose you to a promotional channel, or job, that you hadn’t thought about before.

And if you are still wanting more info check out this youtube video, and even though it is 5 years old it has never been truer: