Friday, May 8, 2015

The true/false of media buying and planning

How do you hire someone to join your team? Every industry and place of employment has to determine what will make an ideal candidate for an available position; media planning and buying agencies are no different.

Currently, our agency is looking for a person who can fill our coordinator job position. Because media planning and buying is typically not the main focus of advertising curriculum at universities, a lot of the interviewing process is effectively explaining to college graduates what media planners and buyers do.

For those college graduates who are excited to join the advertising world, first of all, welcome. Secondly, here is a quick true/false list about our job here at Ruth Burke & Associates:

Truth: You need to understand math. Media planning and buying largely consists of balancing budgets, negotiating rates with vendors, updating flowcharts and formulas, dealing with gross budgets, net costs, and calculating client commission rates. Therefore, your brain, a calculator, and Excel are going to be utilized constantly.

False: You quit working every Friday at 4:30p to drink. While we like to have fun and celebrate with agency outings, pizza Fridays, summer hours, holidays, birthday parties, etc., we are here to work. Some other agencies like to advertise the fun atmosphere of the office with “Beer Thirty” on Fridays, which is fun, but it comes from the “work hard, play harder” mentality. Meaning, while it’s fun to stop work on Fridays early, it’s expected to work past the 5pm quitting time all other days of the week. We like to work hard and enjoy life.

Truth: You will get free tickets to concerts and events. This is not a guarantee, but because media planners and buyers constantly work with sales reps from all media, free tickets become available. A lot of the time, the tickets are sent to clients as a “Thank you” for working with us. However, there are times where you can enjoy a concert or show that you wouldn’t have otherwise been able to see.

False: You never travel or get out of the office… hello cubicle! We’ll be honest, the majority of the time, you will be in your office conducting work via email and phone. A large portion of our time is coordinating between the vendor and the client and making sure everything runs smoothly. However, there are times when we get to be social and interact with the media community in a non-work capacity. Also, a good portion of our clients are not local to the Kansas City area. So, occasional market visits can come up. And for those clients who are in Kansas City, we get to go to different areas of town that may not be in our comfort zone.

False: Every media buy is the same, so it’s easy to be a buyer/planner. Every client has a different set of goals when advertising. Budgets are different as are geographic and demographic target parameters. If trying to reach a woman 25-49 in northern Kansas City, it wouldn’t make sense to advertise in a magazine that is distributed only in southern Kansas City. Each media platform has to be evaluated to determine what makes the most sense for the client and the campaign.

Truth: If you like solving puzzles, you might be a planner. A lot of what we do is problem solve. Whether it’s picking up tickets for radio promotion for the client, updating a flowchart and campaign to account for the $20,000 cut in the budget and still keeping the majority of the media unchanged, or determining if a makegood meets the criteria needed to be approved, media planners and buyers ultimately make decisions that affect a lot of different outcomes.

Overall, we look for team members who are willing to lead projects, be the supportive role for other employees when needed, be engaged in the clients’ needs, rein in big ideas and implement them in a real-life way.


One way to best summarize a media planner/buyer’s job objective is to organize the chaos. 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Is "smartphone-dependent" the new norm?

As smartphones take the foothold of the mobile phone marketplace in the United States, a term has surfaced to describe those individuals who primarily utilize a smartphone to have access to the internet. These people are called “smartphone-dependent.” The Center for Media Research released details from a series of surveys orchestrated by Pew Research Center and Jon S. and James L. Knight Foundation about such mobile users.

Of the American smartphone owner population, the following statistics can be extracted:

·        10% of users do not have broadband internet in the home
·        7% of owners do not have broadband available in the home and do not have easy access to internet services on anything other than a smartphone
·        15% of smartphone users between the ages of 18 and 29 are deemed “smartphone-dependent”
·        About 13% of people who have an annual household income lower than $30,000 are “smartphone-dependent”
·        1% of people who have an annual household income above $75,000 are also “smartphone-dependent”
·        Demographic breakdown of the dependent population:
o   12% African Americans
o   13% Latinos
o   4% Caucasian


As more people utilize mobile phones as his/her internet access point, it will be necessary for advertisers to keep that into consideration when creating campaigns.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Which age bracket boasts the biggest user share of Snapchat?

It’s easy for marketers to assume that young adults are well-established with social media. While research may back that up, which social media is touting the highest share of 18 – 24 year-olds in the US? eMarketer recently reported on comScore Media Metrix research, which broke down the traffic by age group.

American 18 – 24 year-old internet users have the following share percentages on these social media platforms:

·        45% Snapchat
·        28% Tumblr
·        28% Vine
·        23% Instagram
·        19% Twitter
·        16% Google+
·        16% Facebook
·        15% Pinterest
·        14% LinkedIn

With social vendors like Facebook and Google+, the share among the different age brackets was a little more even. Snapchat, Tumblr and Vine were the only media vendors that exceeded 50% share when combining the 18 - 24 and 25 - 34 age brackets together.


Overall, young adults are heavily involved in social media. As it was predicated when Facebook came out after MySpace, the younger generation tends to flock towards the newer platforms instead of established brands. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

How many households do not have landlines?

New research reports that US households without landlines are growing steadily. The Center for Media Research recapped the findings from GfK Mediamark Research’s recent interviews with US adults.

Approximately 44% of adults in the United States do not have landline telephones in the household but do have cell phones. By comparison, there were only 26% of households in 2010 that only had cell phones. That is a growth of about 70% over the last few years.

The research further broke down the percentages of cell-phone-only households by age groups.
·        64% of Millennials
·        45% of Generation Xers
·        32% of Baby Boomers
·        13% of Pre-Boomers


Overall, about 93% of all adults in the US have cell phones according to recent accounts. Time will tell in how the cell-phone-only households’ growth will trend.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Planning sessions with the client

Is it better to run a :30 radio spot instead of a :60? How about a :15 TV spot vs. a :30? Should we launch the digital with the print? These are just a few questions that advertisers and media buyers/planners discuss during a planning session. Such sessions are important so that the client and the agency can relay important factors to each other and craft a media plan in which both parties are confident.

Ideally, a meeting or phone conference should start the brain storming process with the bare bones information. Namely, a buyer needs to know the geographic target area, the ideal customer/consumer that the client would like to reach, a time frame for the campaign (Is there a specific date or event that the media needs to push?), what are the budget constraints, what are the expected Key Performance Indicators (KPI), and what creative is available to use. Once those data points are established, it is up to the planner to put together a schedule that can efficiently reach the target audience and maximize the Return On Investment (ROI) for the client.

Once the first draft of the plan is created, it is sent to the client with the intent to talk through it and the thought process behind the media used, flight weeks planned, and level of approach (baseline, moderate and aggressive).


Typically, another round or two of revisions are required until both sides are pleased with the game plan. A key in keeping this process moving is open communication with the client and remembering to keep your ego at the door. A plan should be flexible to change and so should the buyer/planner.

Monday, March 30, 2015

What does trade mean in media terms?

In media terms, what does trade mean? It can be a really useful way to mutually benefit a client and a media vendor. How does that work?

For the client side, sometimes advertising budgets are very tight and may not allow for a strong buy on media like radio, television, print, outdoor, online, etc. Some clients, usually restaurants or attractions, have an allotment of tickets/coupons, etc. in a trade budget that they can utilize as “payment” instead of real cash. By giving trade tickets to media vendors, the client in return will receive anything like  on-air mentions, an on-air schedule, billboards, ad space, etc. Trade allows clients to stretch the media dollars to really boost the existing cash campaign.

On the media vendor side, trade can be used as incentives for employees, gifts for clients, free lunches for clients, or prizes for listeners/viewers/readers/users, etc. Trade can be viewed as a form of gift card for media vendors.


For media buyers/planners, trade is a different beast than a traditional cash schedule. It’s really important that schedules are separated into different buys, invoices are properly labeled, and trade schedules are tracked to insure that all ran according to the agreement. Another good tip is to always make a contract agreement with trade. That way, both sides understand the expectations. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

How does a media buyer verify that a schedule actually ran?

As a media buyer, there is a lot of interaction between the media vendor and buyer; likewise, the media buyer interacts a lot with his/her client. Part of the job is following up with vendors to verify that the advertising placed actually did run. This is the backend paperwork that is necessary in order to avoid accounting errors and to keep clients updated. Below are a few questions that most media buyers/planners must address for each campaign and define expectations for the client.

How often should I receive online summary reports from my vendor? Some media experts say that monthly reports should be enough to watch online trends. While others, I fall into this category, prefer to see a report every two weeks. That way, if a negative trend is caught, it can hopefully be reversed prior to the end of the month. A buyer should speak to the vendor and client and agree upon a summary report schedule prior to running a campaign.

What should I expect for a proof of posting for an out-of-home campaign? For outdoor billboards, bus signs, train signs, and any signage out-of-home, a proof of posting should be sent to the media buyer. The proof of posting should be a time stamped photograph that verifies the location, panel number, date and time creative was installed. Historically, hard copy pictures were requested; however, nowadays, a .jpg photo is typically fine.

How many tearsheets should I request from the print vendor? Before a campaign starts to run, ask your client if they would like tearsheets of their upcoming ads. If not, request two copies, one for accounting and one for your files. If your client does want a copy, verify how many are needed and notify the vendor. eTearsheets are becoming more and more common place. These are a viable option; however, it is a good idea to let the client know that’s how the tearsheet will be sent.


What is the best way to verify that my spots ran on a broadcast schedule? When a cable, television, or radio schedule runs, a spot log is created. Basically, this is just a listing of each time an ad runs. The report should include the time, date, length, cost, and creative title. A buyer can request this at any time, but it’s typically evaluated when an invoice is submitted by a station.