How does working with an independent media buyer compare to buying advertising from a local radio or television station.

handshake image signifying a successful ad buy

There are several ways to purchase advertising from a local radio, or television station.

One way is to phone or email the TV station such as KING 5, KOMO TV, KIRO TV and Q13 Fox here in Seattle, or one of the local radio stations such as KQMV FM, KIRO FM, KZOK FM or KIRO AM. From there,‘your account’ will be assigned to an ad salesperson from that station. Your “rep” could be highly experienced but is more likely to be a mid-level or even a brand-new hire and you have little to no say in who is ‘assigned’ to you. Next, this salesperson will typically ask to meet with you to do a needs analysis and recommend a program based on the products his/her particular station sells. Sometimes your rep is allowed to sell other stations owned by their same media group, but may also be limited to selling only one particular station they’re assigned to represent. Each salesperson will show you audience ratings combined with metrics like CPP (cost per point), TRP’s (total rating points), Indexing (percent of audience most likely to purchase your product or service) as well as data on overall reach and frequency of the proposed ad schedule. Typically, this information will be presented in the way that best favors that stations’ own offerings which mean each proposal will include different metrics; ratings periods, unit lengths, audience demographics and other information – making it difficult to easily compare proposals. You repeat this process with each station in your market, and then it is up to you to sift through all the data provided to try to decide what station or stations to use, how many ads to put where, what are best days or weeks to air them, and what the cumulative effect is to your overall budget and goals.

As an alternative, experienced advertisers often chose to work with a qualified independent media buyer.

An independent buyer is able to work across ALL available stations in a market and quickly provide an optimal package based on your needs and budget. Unlike a salesperson that works for one station, an independent buyer is not going to favor one media company over another and will instead choose the best alternatives from all the offerings out there.

In addition to traditional broadcast channels, an independent buyer is also able to provide recommendations on other types of media vehicles that may be worth considering for your advertising campaign.

This may include options like cable television advertising on channels like CNN, Fox News or ESPN, streaming or OTT advertising on networks like HULU or YouTube for video- or streaming audio channels like Spotify or Pandora. There are even more specialized solutions like facebook and instagram video, video pre-roll, and in-banner video  to consider as well – each of which has their own advantages and disadvantages. A well-versed buyer can provide easily understood universally comparative metrics across a wide variety of different platforms. 

Beyond recommending a plan, an independent buyer also provides the implementation and follow up needed to insure your program runs as planned. This includes making sure the right advertisements air on the right stations as scheduled, negotiating any last minute airtime upgrades that become available, as well as providing proof of performance and any cost adjustments due to missing commercials or airing them outside of agreed to parameters.

A question often asked is how the cost of an independent media buyer compares to working directly with a station salesperson.

The answer is that usually, the independent buyer is the less expensive option. Station sales reps (like most salespeople) work almost exclusively on commission. When an independent buyer is used, since they are providing the bulk of the client service, the station instead pays the sales commission to the media buyer. In addition, because an independent buyer competitively “shops” all the available stations and media types, they save money on the actual advertising spot costs incurred as well. 

An additional advantage of a media buyer is that they are scalable and can provide advertising rates for regional or national ad buys as well.

Our team at Steenman Associates currently buys advertising from Atlantic City. NJ to Honolulu, Hawaii and many markets in-between. There is no added cost to your budget, and no retainer or fees for our media buying service.