Media Planning vs. Media Buying

What’s the difference?

Media Buying

Let’s start by breaking down both terms. 

Media buying refers to placing ads at the right time in the right place to reach the right audience at the most efficient rate. Media buyers can purchase ad space on a multitude of offline (e.g. billboards, TV, radio, print) and online (e.g. Meta, Snapchat, TikTok, Google) media channels.

However, media buying isn’t as simple as just choosing a platform. Successful media buying requires a comprehensive, dynamic understanding of the following:

  • Cultivating and maintaining relationships with vendors, reps, and partners
  • Knowing and keeping up with the ever-changing landscape of available ad space and the ways to buy
  • Tweaking and optimizing campaigns in motion
  • Directly or programmatically purchasing prime ad space across chosen channels 
  • Negotiating and managing costs and bids mid-flight
Media Planning vs. Media Buying

Media buyers must follow best practices on each channel for effective campaign performance, including tracking and measurement methodologies. Media teams must also remain privacy-centric and adhere to policies, such as HIPAA, when advertising in highly regulated industries.

Ultimately, media buying seeks to achieve two goals:

  1. Effectively connect with audiences
  2. Maximize ROI

Media Planning

How do media buyers decide which platforms and strategies are right for a campaign? Well, that brings us to our next term: media planning. Media planning is the process of identifying where, when, and how often your ad needs to run in order to reach your goals. A strategic, developed media plan outlines the following:

  • Who the target audience is, how they consume media, and the best way to reach them
  • What the target markets are and the nuances of each for placing media
  • What the budget is, and how to maximize efficiencies across channels
  • What the goals of a campaign are (i.e. call to action) 
  • What the media mix is, and how it will measurably “move the needle”
  • What the flighting, reach and frequency will be
  • Campaign scope 
  • Relevant marketing research 
    • Internal research: client profile and brand, ideal customer profile, etc. 
    • External research: competitors’ profile, current branding techniques, what attracts target audience, etc. 

So what’s the difference between the two?

While media planning and buying require different processes, they are collaborative, not competitive.

Think of media planning as a data-informed map outlining the best routes to follow. Media buyers use this guide to create a path that meets and exceeds client goals in an efficient, effective manner. Without media planning, media buyers would not have a foundation for informed decision making. Without media buying, marketing campaigns are often directionless, failing to effectively reach priority audiences. Successful marketing campaigns combine both processes in order to achieve optimal results–including maximized ROI.

With AI becoming more widely available across industries, media professionals can use AI to assist in planning and buying. Though it is advancing rapidly, planners and buyers should not rely solely on AI. Human guidance and rationale using these tools. Additionally, the human relationship component of media planning and buying (e.g. local media partnerships) is something that cannot be replicated by AI. 

The Marketing Doctor Method

How is our media planning and buying different? Our data-driven approach coupled with our team’s decades of experience allows us to over-deliver without overspending. Before we even consider what channels to use, we analyze and compare the most advantageous platforms for connecting with primary audiences and maximizing your budget.

Here’s what you can expect from working with our team

  • Doubled campaign value 
  • Explosive ROI 
  • Daily Optimization
  • Live analytics 
  • Quick pivots 

Got a project? Connect with us to reach beyond your goals. Let’s get to work!

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