Media Buying 101: What is Media Buying and How does it work? (+ 16 Platforms To Use)

Media Buying 101: What is Media Buying and How does it work? (+ 16 Platforms To Use) Posted On
Posted By BRV

Ever ponder the source of those banner advertisements on the websites you frequent the most? Or the Super Bowl commercials that continue to be discussed weeks after they have aired? Media buyers are the solution.

A part of a brand’s marketing budget is allocated to paid advertising is usual. The use of media buying is then made.

Why do people buy media?

The process of buying advertising space and time on online and offline platforms like websites, YouTube, radio, and television is known as media buying. In addition, a media buyer is in charge of managing budgets, negotiating with publishers for ad inventory, and optimizing advertising for better campaign results.

Media buyers put businesses in front of their target demographic, whether they are browsing a website or watching a TV show.

It’s different from social media, where consumers search for you. It’s an outbound technique that works best when you have a solid plan in place. 

As a result, media planning is crucial because it enables you to get the most out of your advertisements.

Nowadays, there are two ways to buy media:

Direct buy: Media buyers establish connections with publishers to bargain for ad inventory, like in the case of negotiating with a newspaper to have an advertisement published in a forthcoming issue.

Programmatic buy: Automated technology is used during the purchasing process.

Comparing media planning and buying

Although they belong to the same category, media planning and buying are two distinct activities. Media planning concentrates on the campaign’s strategy, as opposed to media buying, which focuses on obtaining the most impressions from the right audience at the lowest cost.

You decide which medium will best reach a specific audience during the planning stage. Therefore, media buying happens after media planning is finished. It’s also crucial to remember that media planning applies to all forms of media a brand uses, not just advertising.

However, the same person or team may complete the task in a small to medium-sized organization.

How Digital Media Purchases Are Made

Purchasing impressions is automated when using programmatic or digital media buying. Although technically the negotiation still takes place, it now happens much more quickly thanks to open and closed markets.

Conversely, the conventional strategy entails discussions and cultivating connections with publishers.

This automated buying structure is made up of three parts:

  • Ad agencies and advertisers set up their campaigns on demand-side platforms (DSPs), where they may also bid on ad inventory and execute performance-based ad optimization.
  • Platforms allow publishers to sell their ad inventory, or supply-side platforms (SSP). It is the DSP publisher version.
  • Real-time bidding is used in the ad exchange marketplace where buyers and sellers of ad inventory can transact (RTB).

RTB is not the only way to buy impressions; there are also private marketplaces where publishers set restrictions on who can bid. Programmatic direct is a different choice where advertising inventory is sold at a set cost per thousand impressions (CPM) without any bidding.

How about ad networks then? These platforms act as mediators by gathering the available ad inventory from numerous publishers and matching it with the demands of the advertisers. Consider Facebook Audience Network and Google Adsense.

Digital media procurement can be more economical and free for teams to concentrate on the success of their advertisements rather than on back-and-forth discussions. It’s unclear how the recent cookie limits and Apple’s AppTrackingTransparency (ATT) release on iOS 14 will impact the advertising buying industry.

Tips for Buying Media

1. Strategize.

There are a few things you need to work out before starting your advertising campaign.

What is the purpose of your campaign, to start? Do you desire increased website traffic, brand recognition, and social media activity? Your team will be more focused and the success of your campaign will be easier to monitor if you have one clear aim.

This brings up important signs of success (KPIs). It will be necessary to keep an eye on your campaign and decide whether any adjustments are required. Finally, you’ll need a budget for your campaign. If the campaign is ongoing, you may establish a daily budget.

Usually, these actions are finished during the media planning stage. But occasionally media planners are also in charge of ad purchases.

2. Determine who or where your target is.

The next step is deciding which networks will be the most effective for reaching the campaign’s target audience.

Let’s take the case of a vegan dessert manufacturer that wants to run an advertisement campaign in the next quarter and wants to target health-conscious vegan consumers. The marketing department may wish to place advertisements on websites with fitness and nutrition information, cooking and recipe pages, and YouTube videos with vegan-friendly material.

You can target audiences when purchasing media based on their device, location, behaviors, interests, web browser, and more.

3. Get your campaign set up.

Depending on the media buying platform you are using, this step may be different.

However, when utilizing a DSP, you usually enter your campaign information, including the type of campaign, creative assets, spending limit, target markets, and bidding tactics. So, once that procedure is over, all that is left to do is launch and wait for the results.

If you choose a direct strategy, your team and the account manager of your publisher will probably work together to complete this task.

4. Follow up on the outcomes and improve.

The most thrilling—and perhaps scariest—aspect of starting a marketing campaign is monitoring its effectiveness.

You can begin gathering information on the effectiveness of your ads as soon as it goes live. It’s crucial not to make decisions at this point in time hastily. Before changing tactics, you’ll want to gather enough information to gain a complete picture.

Let’s say the same vegan dessert business ran an advertisement campaign on Google’s ad network. They are deploying one video ad and two static image ads. After a week, they see that the video advertisement is faring better than the banner ones. As it is producing superior results, the media buyer may decide to reallocate cash to that ad kind and placement.

The goal of a media buyer is to maximize advertising potential while maintaining within the allocated budget. As a result, changes can and should be made during the course of the campaign if the advertisement isn’t living up to expectations.

Best Platforms for Buying Digital Media

1. Google Video 360 Display

The Display & Video 360 component of the Google Marketing Platform is available. DV360, which was formerly known as DoubleClick Bid Management, works flawlessly with Google Analytics and other Google products. This might be the best media buying tool for you if your team is already using such products.

To construct your campaign, manage your audience and creative assets, analyze your data, and access ad inventory from leading publishers, DV360 has five sections. In order to make it simpler to reach the proper audience, it also provides automatic bidding and personalized targeting using first and third-party data.

Finally, the platform enables advertisers to reach consumers on TV as well as on websites and on YouTube.

2. Trading Desk

One area to explore if you want access to upscale publications is the Trade Desk.

Some of the top publishers, like Spotify, ABC, the Wall Street Journal, and ESPN, have ads available on the site.

One of the platform’s standout features is the AI-powered “Koa,” which analyzes data from more than 600 billion daily inquiries to decide how to execute your digital campaign in the most clever and economical way possible. The Trade Desk also offers cross-device targeting options to maximize the reach of your campaign.

3. AdColony

AdColony assists businesses in connecting with iOS and Android mobile app consumers.

The platform provides a variety of video placements and styles, including banner, interstitial, interactive, and full-screen. This enables marketers to experiment with different forms to determine which yields the best results.

Additionally, AdColony boasts 450 million app users and over 90,000 direct app integrations.

4. Kindle DSP

When you believe Amazon has reached its peak, another vertical emerges.

According to a report by Ad Exchanger, brands and advertising agencies frequently use Amazon DSP. You can connect with users on websites operated by Amazon, such as Audible and IMDb, as well as other Amazon partners, using this DSP.

They also place a high premium on brand safety to make sure that advertisements don’t run in dangerous or inappropriate settings.

5. AdCritter

A DSP designed for small- to medium-sized enterprises is called AdCritter.

The platform offers a library of pre-designed templates and an ad builder for companies that do not have their own creative assets.

Media buyers can even manually choose the websites on which their advertising will appear with AdCritter, ensuring that their ads are seen by the target market. Additionally, they can target customers based on their demographics and behavior.

6. Advertising Cloud by Adobe

In order to integrate with Adobe Audience Manager and Adobe Analytics, Adobe released a potent DSP in 2017.

Adobe’s systems integrate smoothly, much like Google’s do, which facilitates cooperation and streamlines cross-data analysis.

Adobe also offers strong performance optimization tools to increase return on ad investment (ROAS).

7. Verizon Media

If you’re anything like me, the phrase “Can you hear me now?” comes to mind whenever Verizon is spoken.

As it happens, Verizon provides much more than just cell phone coverage. According to their 2019 report, their DSP delivered campaigns with an average conversion rate that was 71% greater than that of third-party sectors.

Their platform employs omnichannel marketing techniques to engage customers, including connected TVs, audio streaming services, and digital out-of-home advertisements (such as billboards and in-car advertisements).

8. Criteo

This platform is a terrific DSP for firms looking to connect with online buyers because it has access to a wide network of upscale stores. Consider Macy’s, Kohl’s, Best Buy, and CVS.

Instead of third-party cookies, they use first-party data to improve ads and choose the best times and locations to engage customers.

Teams can analyze data more quickly and easily thanks to Criteo’s adaptable attribution models.

9. StackAdapt

It can be challenging to negotiate ad restrictions and compliance guidelines if your company operates in the cannabis, alcohol, or gaming industries. StackAdapt assists businesses in overcoming these obstacles and fortifying their messaging.

Dynamic retargeting, machine learning optimization, and cross-device compatibility are a few of its standout features.

10. AcuityAds

The user-friendly interface of AcuityAds is its best attribute.

Your team may create an ad storyboard for any campaign and depict the client journey using this DSP.

The media planning procedure is streamlined by a drag-and-drop feature. A journey map feature in AcuityAds enables brands to rapidly see how a campaign is doing.


Depending on the target population your team is trying to reach, some DSPs offer pre-segmented audiences for ad campaigns, which can be restrictive. To ensure precision, offers specific targeting choices.

Transparency in costs and statistics is another goal of the platform. Marketers may view a full breakdown of their advertising budgets to see where it is going and how much is going to platform fees.’s localization skills to target consumers at the most specific level are another noteworthy feature.

12. Adelphic

Consider Adelphic if your team values customer service. This omnichannel DSP claims to have a client satisfaction rate that consistently exceeds 95%.

Adelphic offers a customizable price plan with a subscription-based structure, in contrast to competing for DSPS. Media consumers will therefore pay a single, fixed monthly charge for unlimited media.

Advanced reporting tools and data connectors are additional features.

13. Amobee

You can create digital campaigns using Amobee that work across a variety of platforms, browsers, and devices.

Brands may forecast their campaign’s performance across various devices and channels by using this DSP, which uses their proprietary identification graph dubbed “Amobee ID” to identify potential customers on a person-by-person level.

In order to automate social campaigning, the platform may also access APIs from social networks like Facebook and Instagram.

14. Basis by Centro

One of the largest inventories on the market is maintained by Basis, which includes over 9,000 vendors and 11,000 contacts.

More than 30 campaign factors can be reviewed by its artificial intelligence (AI) tool, which can also recommend optimization changes for the best outcomes. Scalable capabilities in Basis make it suitable for both small and large businesses.

15. Xandr Invest

Xandr Invest specializes in using linked TV advertising to target audiences.

The platform, which is based on first-party data from AT&T, offers brands special insight for launching customized marketing. Users can be broken down by lifestyle, interest, intent, demographic, and viewing for marketing purposes.

Additionally, Xandr provides a slick user interface for planning, launching, and tracking campaigns.

16. AdRoll

You should check out AdRoll if your website features a shopping cart or a sign-up button. You probably recognize them as the industry pioneer in retargeting, having worked with over 120,000 brands to convert website visits into buyers over the previous 15 years. 

AdRoll, the first platform to do so, has expanded its product to allow companies to communicate with both known and unknown contacts across display advertisements, social network ads, and email in order to fulfill the need of e-commerce merchants.

Additionally, AdRoll has integrations with all of the major e-commerce platforms, including Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, and Wix. This makes it incredibly simple to launch campaigns quickly by automatically importing your product feed to create dynamic ads and emails and assist you in locating high-value visitors to target.

No ad placement while purchasing media is unintentional. When you first start, there will be some trial and error, and the campaign will be optimized throughout. But once you have a plan to follow and an easy-to-use platform to monitor performance, this will lead to advertising that is successful and achieves your marketing goals.

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