Sounding Off: R. Geskey: “Media Planning Vs Media Buying: Which Is More Important?”
Ronald Geskey is CEO of Marketing Communications LLC and author of "Media Planning & Buying in the 21st Century." Geskey has over 30 years of experience at major advertising agencies. He has a B.S. and M.S. from Southern Illinois University, doctoral work at Texas Tech University, and Executive Education at Wharton School of Business, Northwestern University, Michigan State University.
A media planner is like a writer who creates the screen play for a film. A media buyer is like the actor who brings the film to life. A politician with a good message who fails to get out the vote loses the election. And a good media idea, poorly executed, might as well have been a bad idea. Sometimes execution is everything.
A media plan might be brilliant, but will it be executed with equal zeal? Will the plan be executed on budget with the right media vehicles, in the right place, at the right time and with maximum communications impact? If not, the plan might not look so brilliant any more. Media planning, media buying, and media selling are all equal communications partners in driving ROI.
Why is Buying Underestimated?
Since all of the disciplines (planning, buying, selling) are all of roughly equal in importance, I have always wondered why media textbooks dedicate only a few pages to the art and science of media buying and no pages to media selling. Clients probably place the highest importance on the cost effectiveness of the buys negotiated on their behalf.
Agencies can lose clients on the basis of poor media buying performance, but I don't think I can ever remember an agency losing an account because of a media simulation model.
Perhaps some academics believe that media planning is more conceptual, more creative, more research oriented, and provides better mettle for the mind. But these assumptions aren't necessarily so. Media buying at its best requires honed negotiation skills which could be a course in psychology. Buying also it requires an understanding of the communications process that rivals media planning. And media buyers need a knowledge of the research documenting how different media variables, such as commercial affect performance and advertising effectiveness.
It is ironic that so many clients have the opposite belief where buying is more important than planning. After all, that is where the rubber hits the road and the dollars are spent.
In the 21st century, media buyers won't just be responsible for buying TRPS or clicks at the lowest possible price, but must learn how to "buy communication, not TRPS, according to many experts. Beyond CPM, how can a buy's communications effectiveness be maximized? Program involvement, attention levels, contextual considerations, commercial positioning and a host of other factors have a greater impact on communications effectiveness than media weight and CPMs. TRPS are not TRPS.