Media Buying Basics for the Holidays

Last week, we offered up some tips for planning and buying media for the upcoming year. More immediate is the need to begin planning your holiday advertising. Taking action now and following certain media buying basics can save you money and help you get the most from your ad spend.

Holiday revenue can be essential, particularly if your business is in the retail sector. Research by the National Retail Foundation found sales in November and December alone can account for nearly one-third of annual sales.

That’s where media buying comes in, helping to:

  • Increase awareness of your store, products, and promotions;
  • Attract your desired customers; and
  • Get them spending money and boosting sales.

Think of buying media like holiday shopping: with good research, planning, and well-timed purchases, you can get some great deals, save lots of money, and even earn a few extra perks.

Holiday Media Buying Basics #1: Start Early and Save

Like holiday shoppers, the disadvantage marketers have late in the season is that everyone else is shopping, too. Not only is your company vying against its competitors, but you are also buying media against businesses in other sectors as well. As a result, demand is higher, supply is lower, and media vendors can charge premium prices for their slots.

So, how do you get around this? By starting your buying and planning early. It is not unusual for some marketers to make holiday media buys in the spring and summer months during the network TV upfronts. Marketers are more likely to get lower rates, a larger selection of ad inventory, a better chance at premium slots and value add, and CPM guarantees on their buys for make-goods.

Holiday Media Buying Basics #2: Know Who to Buy For and What They Want

Understanding who buys your products is essential to making effective media plans. This is a basic step, but many businesses start with one impression of who their desired customers are only to learn through research that it’s actually another group entirely.

The best way to find out what people want is to ask them directly. Get feedback from your audience with:

  • Customer surveys.
  • Polls on social media.
  • Focus groups.

Use this data to determine what types of customers you have, how much they typically spend, when they like to shop, and what products they are most interested in. Then, craft a media strategy based on this information.

Holiday Media Buying Basics #3: Know Where They Shop

Identifying the way that customers buy helps you invest your media dollars. Are they making most of their purchases online or in the store? Are online shoppers using mobile devices or desktop computers? Data from Google shows that mobile accounted for 35% of online traffic this time last year, and mobile shoppers are also 90% more likely to act than desktop online shoppers.

Similarly, it’s useful to know whether customers are active on social media. As an example, shoppers referred from Pinterest spent an average of $92.51 per order last Black Friday. Perhaps a social media ad buy is in order.

To get this customer data, consider utilizing behavioral targeting in a test ad campaign so that you can see where people come in and leave. Also, invest in an analytics program that you can dive deeply into and determine which operating systems people use most to access your site, how they are referred to pages on your site, the geographic location of your audience, and more. For instance, if you notice most of your shoppers come in via a desktop, then you know to invest more in desktop ads and less in mobile advertising.

Holiday Media Buying Basics #4: Don’t Pay Full Price

A common-but-costly mistake marketers often make is paying rate card prices for their advertising. Rate cards are not written in stone. There is always room to negotiate, and ad sales reps may prefer getting your business at a lower rate than losing out entirely.

Before you buy:

  • Comparison shop. If you are opting for a print ad, find a publication with a similar demographic of readers. Or, if you are advertising on TV, research rates for TV programs with similar audiences.
  • Consider using a media agency like Capitol Media Solutions to negotiate rates. Firms like ours have relationships with vendors and can not only get you lower rates but also value add.
  • Try co-op advertising. In this relationship, the store pays for a portion of your advertising costs and features your product prominently in its retail locations and in-store advertising.

The holiday season can be a tough time of year, but with some research and planning, it can also be a very rewarding for marketers. Following these tips can help you extend the impact of your advertising and boost sales all while maximizing your holiday budget.

Need more help buying your holiday media or planning for next year? Contact Capitol Media Solutions, and let us create a custom strategy for your brand.

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