Buying Media in Major Markets

If you’re a small or medium sized business, buying media in a major market can be a daunting task. The stakes are much higher (see ad rates). The markets are much more spread out so you need to be strategic about your spend. The perception could be that most media is priced so high that it limits most advertisers to local print, social media and maybe some Google AdWords campaigns. However, that is a myth. Here are some tips to maximize your budget and reach your target more efficiently in a major market.

1) Focus on mediums that can be geo-targeted                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               If you have a single Chicagoland location in the North Suburbs, then it wouldn’t make sense to buy media that reaches the entire DMA unless your business actually draws from the entire DMA. Therefore, a business that draws from a small part of an area’s DMA (market) wouldn’t even want to consider broadcast television or terrestial radio. Instead, consider cable television or a targeted online video campaign instead of broadcast television, Pandora radio (online streaming) instead of terrestrial radio, outdoor advertising in your marketing area and – of course – an online targeted display program served to zip codes in your marketing area.

2) Hire an expert to negotiate your media                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Media rates – especially in larger markets – can be quoted 40-50% and higher to inexperienced media buyers. Almost all media is now priced on a CPM (Cost Per Thousand) or a CPP (Cost Per Rating Point) scale. You can even purchase some media on a CPA (Cost Per Action) model. Finally, some media can even be bought remnant (unsold inventory that is sold at a discount at the 11th hour). However, most novice buyers aren’t aware of how media is priced and/or don’t understand the pricing scale or the terminology. Therefore, AEs (Account Executives or Media Reps) will usually quote the top of the rate card to these buyers. Buyer beware. Experts/Firms that have established relationships and buying history with the local media companies and understand the intricacies of how media is priced are worth their weight in gold to area businesses.

3) Make sure you invest in good creative                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In major markets especially, it is utterly important to have really solid creative. If your ad looks small market or non-professional, it will tarnish your brand. You may not need to spend tens of thousands of dollars but you may need to move away from a young, inexperienced in-house designer.

Roger Keys, the author, is Founder/President of Marketing Keys, a boutique media management firm headquartered on Chicago’s version of Madison Avenue – Michigan Avenue. Prior to starting his own media firm in 2007, Roger sold media for 20 years including a very successful 12 year stint working for The Walt Disney Company/ABC.