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Imagine you’re going on a road trip. Your bags are packed. Your snack supply is at max capacity. Your jams are on shuffle on a superb homemade playlist. You don’t know much about your destination, just that it’s roughly northeast and about 200 miles away. And you don’t have a map. You’re just going to start driving and hope you find it, even though you only have enough money for one tank of gas.

Sounds insane, right? Especially when there are so many tools to help you know exactly where you are, where you’re going and how to get there as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

Yet this describes how many people still buy media. 

Here are three tips for a more effective media buy—for any company, in any industry and at virtually any budget. Just for fun, we’ll keep this car/roadtrip analogy going because … well, right now we can’t really go anywhere so it’s fun to think about.

1. Look under the hood. Way under.

Plenty of cars look shiny and new on the outside but are fraught with mechanical issues on the inside just waiting to happen. The equivalent of this in TV and radio advertising is called “spray and pray”: buying up open remnant inventory, with little to no vertical frequency, across multiple mediums. It, too, is a disaster waiting to happen. 

Now more than ever, it’s important to know exactly when and where your ads are being placed. When buying commercials on radio or television, avoid broad rotators that have your ads running Monday to Sunday, 6 a.m. to midnight. This would be like driving from Minneapolis to Texas while zig-zagging from the east to west coast. You might think that the longer your placements spread out through the week, the more likely someone will hear them. But the opposite tends to happen. 

On the outside, “spray and pray” can seem like a cheap way to buy media and still get a lot of coverage. It isn’t. You’re simply buying a broad amount of advertising, throwing it at the wall and hoping it sticks. Random frequency doesn’t make a good media buy; strategy does. And there’s no strategy behind “spray and pray.”

2. Know your mile markers.

Before you spend a single penny on a media buy, you should know what you want that penny to do for you. That means identifying your mile markers—or Key Performance Indicators—down to the finest detail. If you’re looking for increased lead generation or web traffic, what’s your specific YOY increase goal? If you’re looking for greater general brand awareness, how will you measure it?

Understanding your KPIs ahead of time, making them attainable, and knowing if and how you accomplished them is vital—not only for your current campaign, but to better prepare you for future media buys. Media-buying should never be done in a vacuum. You’re always looking for ways to improve. 

3. Let the data drive you.

The tools you can tap for a road trip are pretty amazing when you think about it. You can look ahead to see weather and traffic patterns each step of the way. You can map the shortest trip, the most scenic trip, or the one that takes you past the most interesting landmarks. You can literally know exactly where you are and how far you have to go at all times.

In media buying, the biggest mistake people make is ignoring the data and advertising in mediums or locations that don’t reach their target demographic. At Media Bridge, we pride ourselves in having a national presence with a local approach. It’s way easier to buy a cookie-cutter media plan that delivers a theoretical “reach” across the entire country. It’s harder—but a lot more effective—to dig deep into the data and find out that radio station x in city y has a popular DJ who would be willing to personally endorse your product and drive leads to your website. 

Today, you can learn more than ever before about every demographic you want to reach. Where they live. What their habits are. What stations or channels they engage with. How often they use streaming vs. broadcast TV or listen to their favorite radio station in the car vs. on a smart speaker. Data is your friend. Let it drive you.

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Here’s hoping that we’ll all be taking more road trips before we know it—and that we’ll reach those destinations with plenty of gas left in the tank for the next one! 

If you’d like an objective look at how your current media plan is performing, contact Media Bridge for a free Media Audit. You never know, this could be the start of an amazing new journey! 

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