Sounding Off: Carol Thompson “The Changing Role of Media Planners and Media Buyers”
Carol Thompson is a media planner and buyer executive in Ad Cetera, Inc. , a Dallas, TX advertising agency.
Media planners and media buyers don't just focus on radio, television, magazines, billboards or newspapers anymore. In fact, with a few exceptions, magazines and newspapers are becoming obsolete. There's a host of new options available to advertisers, and professional media planners and buyers must stay on the cutting edge of an ever-changing media landscape. Expertise and business connections can be leveraged to not only stay abreast of technology, but to also get prime placement and the best rates.
Over the past several years, newer forms of media have emerged on the scene, including satellite television, cable television, satellite radio and digital (or online) media. Digital/online media may include social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, email blasts, search engine marketing, referral linking campaigns, web portals, YouTube video ads, banner ads, interactive games and more.
As technology moves at the speed of light, when it comes to media planning and buying, the saying "You snooze, you lose" has never been more relevant. However, with so many choices, there's never been a better time for a media planner or buyer to be able to truly target the right audience with the right advertising medium(s). If the budget allows, most media planners and media buyers will strive for a balanced "media mix" in which all forms of advertising work harmoniously to achieve optimal results.
Where traditional media is concerned, television still remains among the top choices for most advertisers, depending on their target audience and needs. Why? Because it works. When a media buyer is looking for "reach," (targeting as many people as possible at one time), television can't be beat for certain audiences. That's especially true when you want to reach your target market with particular dayparts (certain multiple hours of day) and/or specific programming. People will always watch television, although it is becoming more and more difficult to hold the attention of a younger audience who is texting, tweeting and viewing their favorite show at the same time.
Radio can also be a highly effective traditional form of media, depending on how it's utilized and what clients are selling. Radio is considered a "frequency" medium (targeting a specific demographic as many times as possible). Often radio will be used as a supplement to television, but not always. What can really enhance radio's effectiveness is endorsements by on-air personalities, which holds especially true for sports and talk show personalities, who tend to have much more of a loyal following than the average DJ.
Savvy media planners and buyers must thoroughly understand each client's target demographic, and determine the best media mix to achieve both maximum brand awareness and increased sales. They will then develop a strategic media buying plan based on several factors to ensure the client receives a maximum ROI. Most importantly, they will negotiate the actual media buy based on the particular medium's standard measurement of audience. For example, with television, that measurement can be determined by CMP (cost per thousand), CPP (cost per point), etc. The ultimate goal is not to just reach the masses, but to reach the as many people who comprise the client's target market as possible, as many times as possible, for as the best price possible.
While the media landscape is changing and evolving, some of the traditional methods of advertising are still bringing in fantastic results. Media planners and media buyers must not only keep the traditional methods in mind, they also have to stay on the cutting-edge and keep their client's goals in the forefront of their minds to succeed.