The Step By Step Guide To Media Planning And Buying

The Step By Step Guide To Media Planning And Buying

The world of advertising can be an enigma to many, and within that world, media planning and buying is no exception. In simplified terms, it’s the process of determining what, when, where, how and how often to advertise a company’s brand, service or product. With seemingly endless factors to consider, including a company’s advertising budget, it takes a great deal of knowledge and experience to do it properly. ADFX’s media planning experts have over 20 years of experience in the industry and can help walk you through the ins and outs of strategic media planning and buying and how to make it work for your business.

What is Media Planning?

While it’s one thing for a creative agency to come up with an attention-grabbing ad, it won’t do any good unless it gets in front of its intended audience. Media planning is a combined science and art. Skilled, strategic media planning involves a great deal of research to understand the client, their brand, their goals, the target market, and their competition. Experienced media planners will combine both qualitative and quantitative research with their knowledge of the media landscape to create the best strategic plan that works within the confines of their client’s advertising budget.

The end goal of media planning is to create awareness for a certain product, service or brand amongst the right target audience group and ultimately convert these people into customers. Strategic media planning should not be taken lightly as it can have a huge impact on a company’s advertising ROI.

What goes into creating a great media strategy?

A great media plan will reach the most target customers at the time when they are ready to make a purchasing decision – and do so as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. Sounds easy, right? Wrong. Media planners must consider a number of variables when determining the best course of action for their clients. After the initial research phase, when there is a clear understanding of who the target audience is, media planners will begin to strategise about the best way to optimise engagement with this audience. The following steps are often taken by media planners throughout the planning process.

Identifying the best media outlets

At a basic level, media planners – in conjunction with account managers and creative directors – must decide if an advertising message will be best communicated through newspapers, TV, radio, online or another medium. Although sometimes a client’s budget will be a determining factor in narrowing down these choices, often the media planner and creative team will make a decision based on which avenue will be able to maximise the impact of the advertising message. For example, certain products might work best if advertised where consumers can see the product – as in TV or print, while other advertisements might have just as much impact on the radio.

Another aspect of identifying the best outlets is figuring out how well a channel will reach your specific audience. If your audience is very narrow – potential purchasers for a specialty luxury car for example – a local newspaper may not be the best place to advertise. You may want to choose a more targeted lifestyle magazine or advertise during a specific radio show when that audience is likely to be listening.


Reach is one of the most important factors when creating a media plan. It refers to the number of people who will encounter your advertising message during a specific time frame. A media planner’s goal is to reach the largest number of people within a client’s budget. As TV, newspapers, and radio often operate on both local and national levels, a planner must determine which option will have the biggest impact on the right audience for the lowest cost.

Frequency and Scheduling

Another important piece of media planning and buying puzzle is frequency and scheduling. Planners must determine the balance between how often and when the intended target customers will see or hear your ad and the cost involved. Ad scheduling and frequency requires a lot of research and analysis as well as strategy.

What is media buying?

Once a media plan has been created, the next step is purchasing advertising space. For a media plan to be successful, planners and buyers often work in tandem to achieve the best ROI for their clients. A media department in an advertising company has in-depth knowledge of pricing, the best advertising platforms to meet your company’s business goals, and established industry relationships that give them the ability to make your advertising spend go a lot further than you could do on your own. As not all advertising activities are effective in any given scenario, it takes strategy, skill, and experience to determine what type of campaign will get the best results. Media buyers are well-versed in negotiating pricing with media outlets and are familiar with the different demographics and optimal time slots to get the best rates of return for their clients. Often, larger and/or more experienced media agencies will have trusting relationships and more buying power (getting more bang for your buck) with both local and major national media companies. With decades of strategic media planning and buying experience, ADFX is able to offer personalised service combined with national media buying power to all of its clients.

Optimisation and fine-tuning

In order to make the most out of your media spend, it’s crucial to have a well-defined advertising budget – including a contingency. The media team will need to know the budget parameters from the get-go in order to get a sense of the big picture and create the best strategy around how to spend your advertising dollars efficiently. Media buyers will do their very best to make educated decisions at the beginning of a campaign, however, part of their role is also to monitor the effectiveness of the campaign and tweak it, if necessary, along the way. Occasionally, both external and internal factors can be unforeseen influences on a campaign’s performance, requiring the initial media plan to be revised. Strategic media companies like ADFX are constantly monitoring campaign performance and will provide data-based insights and advice throughout the campaign to achieve optimal results and outstanding ROI.

How to choose the right media planning and buying agency for you

When looking for the right media team to partner with your company, you will want to look for experience, knowledge, and excellent service. It can be a challenging decision for many firms – particularly those who are less experienced in this area or who have smaller budgets to work with. This is why choosing the right agency is so important so that they will take the time to understand your business, determine what has or hasn’t worked in past advertising efforts, and take the time to come up with the most cost-effective and impactful campaign. By aligning with the right media company, you can speed up the time it takes to influence your target market’s purchasing decisions and ultimately increase your sales. ADFX specialise in connecting brands with target audiences through world-class strategic media campaigns.

Need assistance with your media planning and buying?

Contact ADFX today to book a 30-60 min advisory session.

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