3 Things To Know Before Buying Media

by | Mar 14, 2020 | Strategy

Display advertising on a local media platform is a great opportunity for businesses to gain awareness and possibly increase site traffic. However, there are a few questions you should ask yourself before buying media or display ads. By following these three steps you will gain a better understanding of your media buy and know ways to better track your ROI.

I have worked in many marketing roles, but by far, the hardest case was seeing sales reps take advantage of business owners and agencies. The sales reps knew the media buyers were unfamiliar with the process and that some were too busy to notice a “bad media buy.” Unfortunately, I had to take the order and place the buy despite my unpopular opinion. I raised my concerns several times during company meetings, but at the end of the day, this particular company cared more about generating revenue than truly helping the businesses.


1.) Understand what the reader “looks” like and what the platform’s reach is.


Before buying ads, get a better understanding of the platform’s demographics. The sales rep will have this data ready for you to review. This information is important to know because who you think reads that platform may not be true.

Here are some questions you could ask.


  • What is the geographic reach of your platform?
  • What is the average income of your readers?
  • What is the average gender of your readers?
  • What is the average age of your reader?

2.) Understand what frequency is needed to reach your targeted goals.


Did you know that a person has to see your ad/logo/message a minimum of three times before they recognize the message? Consumers are inundated with marketing messages several times in just one minute. Logos are now on clothing, bags, and even larger products like vehicles. Repetition is key to breaking through the marketing noise coupled with great ads.

Reach refers to the number of people that qualify to see your ad and frequency refers to the number of times a person sees your ad. Knowing the minimum frequency should be three this gives you an equation to know just how many impressions to buy over a time span to make an impact significant enough to “break through the noise.”

For example:

If a sales rep tells me their company has a reach of approximately 100,000 unique visitors to their site in one month and my ad buy is for one month than this is what you’d need to buy in order to be visible.

  • 100,000 x 3 ( frequency) = 300,000 impressions
  • Knowing the CPM or cost per a thousand is $10 a simple equation will note this would cost $3,000.

If this media buy is too large for your budget, here are a few ways to optimize your campaign so your ad dollars are spent more strategically.

  • You can push your marketing over three months instead of one. This allows you a longer time to reach your audience and reduces your monthly cost.
  • You can ask to day-part your marketing ads. For example, if the target audience was small restaurant owners you may be able to eliminate the peak restaurant hours 11:30 – 2 pm and 4:30 -7 pm.

3.) Set your expectations accordingly and track your data for a better understanding of your ROI.


There are several ways to track an ad campaign- that’s the beauty of digital marketing. However, it is important you are measuring the results in some capacity that determines if the buy would be worth it in the future.

I like to set a unique link with UTM parameters for each ad set so I can determine which is performing best. In Google Analytics, I’m measuring users, clicks, time on page, and conversions. This is important to have, because each month your media rep should provide data. Most reports will include number of impressions that were delivered, the average click-through-rate, and engagement. The clicks on this report will be important to compare to your own findings.

As a reminder, display ad campaigns have a goal of generating awareness (impressions). This is the goal and a win to get your brand in-front of an audience who engages like your best client. Actions further down the funnel like time spent on website, and other hard conversions should be considered a huge win.

While there are many ways to optimize a campaign, here are a few to consider. In my opinion, the key is to A/B test!

  • Change the ad from a PNG to a GIF or HTML5 animated ad
  • Change just the image and run an A/B test
  • Remove text to just 3-5 words with a simple Call-to-action button


If you have any questions or need assistance with an upcoming media buy please feel free to schedule a consultation here.