Smart media buying

27 Jan

Let’s say you’re a shoe store manager buying radio advertising. You think – “I don’t want my spots running at all times of the day. I just want them to run during the morning drive to work, since more people will hear it.” It’s a rational thought. Thing is, the radio stations know that too (radio is, after all, their livelihood). A morning drive spot may get, say, 50% more listenership than one running at mid-day, but the cost is going to be at least 50% higher (not only is listenership higher, demand is higher, and cherry-picking timeframes makes the station’s inventory management difficult so they tend to charge even more). On a cost-per-listener basis, you may be doing yourself a disservice targeting the morning drive.


What if you ran a coffee shop and morning was your peak business period? Then, those morning drive spots get you 50% more listeners, at 50% more cost, but those who hear it at that time are say, 20% more likely to respond to the message because it’s more relevant. You come out 20% ahead. It’s a smart buy. The targeted timing makes the message more effective.

What if you ran a travel agency and you sponsored the weather report on a radio station over winter. People are probably more likely to call you when they’ve just heard it’s going to be below zero for the next week. Again, the added listenership of feature sponsorship is matched by the added cost, but with the supportive environment of your message, you’ll come out ahead. Smart buy. The relevant environment makes the message more impactful.

And I’m sure if you’re promoting happy hour at your sports bar, you’ll put part of your radio ad budget onto the sports station – even though it is not a top station overall, the composition of its listenership makes it an effective buy since its listeners will be more likely to take action after being exposed to your message.

When you’re making a media buy, don’t just obsess over getting the most eyeballs and ears for the lowest price. Think about the timing, environment, and audience that you’re buying, and how it can make a message more likely to be responded to.

To completely contradict my point, here is an irrelevant picture of Lady Gaga, the top trending Google Image search for 2009


One Response to “Smart media buying”

  1. rgonterman January 28, 2010 at 11:02 am #

    Well put! Lady Gaga is a nice touch. Adding ipad, Avatar and Tiger Woods would have crashed the server from unintended veiwers.

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