What is Media Buying in digital marketing?

Media buying is a process used in paid marketing efforts. The goal is to identify and purchase ad space on channels that are relevant to the target audience at the optimal time, for the least amount of money. Media buying is a process relevant to both traditional marketing channels
(websites, social media, streaming). When done effectively, media buyers achieve maximum exposure among their target market for the least amount of spend.

Media buyers oversee the media buying process, with input from the team. With an understanding of marketing goals and target audience preferences given by the media planning team, media buyers execute the actual purchase of the advertisement space. A huge part of the media buyer position is negotiating with the sites, networks, and other channels they want ads to appear on. They must ensure they are purchasing the correct placements at the correct times, for the correct duration, all within strict budgets.

Media buyers should also use [marketing performance tools to track key performance metrics and delivery to ensure the ad is placed in accordance with the agreement and that it is meeting campaign goals.
With the media plan established, media buyers connect with their counterparts across the agreed upon media sites. These are often sales / account executives, whose responsibility it is to find relevant advertisers. These two parties negotiate placement, time and cost. Media buyers often use the following tactics to execute on media plans:

  • Manual bidding: Bidding on ad space and managing bids directly through an ad platform such as AdWords.
  • Programmatic buys: AI and algorithm enabled real-time bidding on ad space that matches consumer profiles (e.g. fashion designers leveraging a platform that will automatically bid on and place ads on fashion-oriented channels).
  • Direct buys: When a media buyer negotiates ad rates and run times with a specific advertiser (e.g. fashion designers working directly with the Vogue team to place ads on their site / magazine).
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