What Makes a Great Media Buyer? Part 1 of 3

Written By

SMI Staff

Published On

Wednesday, Apr 09

Are you looking for ways to successfully buy your own media? Do you want to determine whether your radio agency has a quality media team? Today marks the first in our three-part series: What Makes a Great Media Buyer? Of course, as an agency that purchases millions of dollars’ worth of radio advertising time each month, we’re a little biased as to whether or not marketers should attempt to buy media on their own; but if you’re set on doing so, the following is an outline of the skills and capabilities you’ll need.

The Job

First off, what exactly does a media buyer do? For radio, the answer comes down to planning, negotiating, buying and maintaining media schedules. It’s an intricate process that involves monitoring historical and current audience size and media rates in order to determine the CPM (cost per thousand advertising impressions). Buyers also make recommendations for new media opportunities based on performance feedback from clients, and they resolve discrepancies with stations and networks when a spot doesn’t air correctly. It’s a job that requires a lot of self-direction as well as the ability to function smoothly as part of a team.

The Skills

Remember those kids in high school who always had the right answer in math class? Well, some of them grew up to be media buyers. In a data-driven industry, math and analytical skills are a major requirement for the job. A portion of each buyer’s day is taken up creating and evaluating multiple spreadsheets and assessing statistics. Buyers use this information to find new ways to control results and translate what they discover into more efficient buys. With radio, it can be difficult to tell what is driving response and orders – whether it’s the time of day a spot airs, the program surrounding the spot, the loyalty of the listeners, or the offer made during the advertisement. It’s a media buyer’s job to pinpoint exactly what is working best in any given campaign and, conversely, what might be holding back the campaign.

One might think that the next most important skill is the ability to negotiate, but as Inc. Magazine put it, “Before negotiating, you have to figure out what target market you are trying to reach and then find radio stations and programs that do a good job of reaching those markets.” A successful media buyer has to have a full understanding of a target audience’s media habits and how they consume media. This includes an assessment of core demographics, age range, and gender. With a branded response campaign, it can involve household income, education, buying trends and more.

Next week, we’ll explore how buyers handle different media channels and how they compare results.

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