Media Buying Process

Media Buying Process
Article by Jelena Relić
Last Updated: November 04, 2023

Businesses trying to attract potential customers should consider media planning and buying.

The media buying process helps you reach and influence your target market through various mediums and channels.

But how does this media buying process work? This article will explain the steps involved in the process while highlighting the importance of media buying.

What is the Media Buying Process?

The media buying process is a cluster of strategic wholesale multi-platform ad space purchases, arrangements, and negotiations. The strategy aims to find the most advantageous ad placement at the lowest price for the period. Media buying is done manually with media planning specialists or automating the process through third-party technology advertising platforms.

Media buying is a paid process, and it implies the procurement of media time and space for displaying ad creative. Media buying involves a lot of media planning and is not restricted to the selection of ad placements only.

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What are the Steps in the Media Buying Process?

  1. Stage 1: Pre-Launch
  2. Stage 2: Campaign Launch
  3. Stage 3: Post-Launch

Here is the media buying process divided into three main stages and the subsequent steps in each stage:

Stage 1: Pre-Launch

The first stage is the most important and time-consuming of all three stages of the media buying process. A company’s efforts, resources, and time are valued when things are correctly done in this stage.

In the pre-launching stage, you have to make significant decisions regarding advertisements. Some of the critical goals and questions that you need to revisit and revise would be:

  • Target Audience – A company must consider its desired audience and how it fits into the advertisement. You need to find the best and the most impactful way to reach them while leaving an impression that would make them want to purchase your products/services.
  • Competitors – Analyzing the competitor’s advertising strategies is a helpful way of designing the advertisement. It gives valuable insights into the methods that work and the ones that fail. In the long run, learning from your competitor’s highs and lows benefits your company and saves time and resources.
  • Strategy – Strategizing how the advertisements will be launched and through which medium are vital considerations for an ad’s success. If your business has an existing platform, such as a website, you must conduct an overall website checkup and optimization to add value.
  • Outlets – Once you have chosen the medium, the next thing to consider is the media service where the company will launch the ad. There are several options, such as TV, newspapers, and radio. Regardless of the platform, you must negotiate the price and make it as affordable as possible without compromising the quality or quantity.
  • Budget – After the advertisement is envisioned, consider the budget. How much can your business spend on this venture? Remember to work only with what is available and not go over the budget.
  • Execution – The ad is made, and the budget is allocated. Now, it is time to plan the implementation. This stage is also about considering the ROI of the ad and planning everything down to the smallest detail.

Stage 2: Campaign Launch

Launching the campaign is a challenging part of the process. This stage demands time and money, so making the most of it is necessary. Planning takes a lot of work but launching it appropriately is what counts the most.

The following factors need consideration while launching the campaign:

  • Media Delivery – You need to track the engagement of the ad to evaluate its performance. Find out if the ad is being launched at the right time and place or if it reaches the target audience and drives a relevant message. Successful ads play a significant role in online reputation monitoring too.
  • Competitor Behavior – Another entity, apart from the customers, a company should consider is the competitor. Competitors are crucial in the media buying process. You must be in touch with the industry trends and track their performance.
  • Customer Behavior – At times, despite all the planning, an advertisement fails to reach the people it is aimed at. So, be open to customer feedback online and adapt accordingly.

Stage 3: Post-Launch

The ad is already launched by reaching this stage, a milestone to celebrate. You have taken a giant leap toward establishing your brand image and improving your online reputation.

It is now time to plan the post-launch phase after the successful implementation of your ad. In this stage, you must assess your ad’s performance and the same of the company concerning the ad. Find out if there are significant changes or what can be done to enhance the performance the next time.

Data gathering is an essential part of the post-launch phase. Collect all the statistics and feedback from your ad campaign. This data will help you build algorithms that optimize systems and improve future campaigns. You can also draw insights from this data.

Data analysis is a significant way of moving your brand towards bigger and better opportunities.

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Media Buying vs. Media Planning

Media planning and media buying are distinct stages in the advertising process, each serving a specific purpose, as you can see in the table below:

Key Differences 

Media Planning 

Media Buying  


Strategic process of determining the best media channels and platforms to reach the target audience effectively. 

Tactical process of purchasing ad space or airtime on the selected media channels and platforms identified during the media planning phase. 


The main goal is to create a comprehensive media plan that outlines the most appropriate channels and ad placements to achieve the campaign's objectives. 

The primary goal is to negotiate the best possible deals to optimize the budget and secure ad placements that align with the media plan. 


Media planners: 

  • Conduct market research 
  • Analyze audience data 
  • Set campaign goals 
  • Determine budgets 
  • Select target demographics 
  • Create a media mix that aligns with the target audience's behavior and preferences. 

Media buyers: 

  • Interact with media vendors, ad networks, and publishers to negotiate ad rates, ad placement, and ad positioning 
  • Manage the actual buying of advertising inventory.  


The outcome is a detailed media plan that specifies the selected media channels, timing of advertisements, budget allocation, and the overall strategy for the advertising campaign. 

The result is successful acquisition of ad space or airtime on various media channels, ensuring that the ads are placed according to the media plan. 


Centers around understanding the audience and finding the most suitable media platforms to deliver the message to the right people. 


Focused on executing the media plan efficiently while maximizing the value of the media budget. 

What are the Benefits of Media Buying?

  1. Increased Reach
  2. Standing Out
  3. Saving Resources

So, now that you know about the detailed media buying process, you might wonder why and how media buying is so important.

Media buying offers a wide range of benefits for businesses, such as:

Increased Reach

The first stage of the media buying process deals with the research in creating an ad. Understanding the target market is a crucial component of the process. Once consumers realize that a company understands its needs, they are more likely to patronize its products and services.

Alongside this, the media buying process enables a company to reach its target audience with a higher level of intent and accuracy.

Standing Out

A company can differentiate itself from competitors when the ads are well-planned and executed. Consumers draw lines and remember brands. Businesses with great marketing are likely to stand out in the industry. And media buying is the secret behind a company’s successful ad.

Saving Resources

The media buying process calls for an investment from the company. But, over time, it helps save time and resources. Media buying prevents a brand from irresponsibly allocating a budget for a poorly planned media campaign. The resources go where they are most desired.

Media Buying and Planning: Three Golden Rules to Consider

  1. Rule 1: Be Attentive
  2. Rule 2: Approach with an Open Mind
  3. Rule 3: Track Responses

A business should not venture blindly into the world of media buying. To avoid fraud, one must know the process well. It is also helpful to be aware of the three golden rules of media planning and buying, as discussed here:

Rule 1: Be Attentive

It is necessary to pay attention and be alert to what is happening during the media buying process. You can negotiate everything in the media industry. So, listen to the information and analyze it thoroughly before making any decisions.

Rule 2: Approach with an Open Mind

You must keep an open mind while working in the media industry. An honest approach is the key to innovation and breakthroughs. With this, you will also be able to think out of the box, ultimately leading to the company’s success.

Rule 3: Track Responses

The most important metric of an ad’s success is how positively people respond. Consider whether the target market loves it, hates it, or is neutral. Also, evaluate if the goals set beforehand are met.

Take note of the feedback to improve your current and future performances.

Takeaways on Media Buying Process

The media buying process is time-consuming. Media buyers do not want to spend their entire budget on anything that fails to bring results. Therefore, the campaign’s success relies vastly on the ad’s exposure. When you buy media space, be clear about your goals and choose the appropriate marketing channel.

Programmatic advertising enables you to run highly targeted campaigns and reach your target market across platforms and channels at the right time.

Media Buying Process FAQs

What are the types of media buying?

Here are some of the common types:

  • Traditional Media Buying
  • Display Advertising
  • Social Media Advertising
  • Search Engine Advertising
  • Video Advertising
  • Programmatic Media Buying
  • Direct Buying
  • Indirect Buying
  • Guaranteed Buying
  • Non-Guaranteed (Remnant) Buying
  • Sponsorship and Product Placement
  • Native Advertising
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