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Steps in Planning & Buying
From start to finish, what is media planning and buying and what makes it successful?

Media planning and buying is the process of strategizing, negotiating, and purchasing ad placements, or "inventory." When planning what inventory to purchase, planners must take into consideration the product being advertised, target audience, and campaign goals. In addition, not only are media buyers responsible for making the initial purchase, but also for continuing to optimize performance throughout the entire campaign lifecycle.
Plan
  • Audience research. What is your target audience? How does your target audience shift by medium?
  • Plan your spend across buy type. What percentage of your campaign will be devoted to which types of buys, from display to search, and beyond?
  • What percentage of your spend will be on guaranteed inventory versus non-guaranteed (RTB)?
  • For guaranteed inventory, the planning stage may include sending RFPs (requests for proposals) to suppliers you are interested in including in your campaign. For inventory you've purchased before, you can also purchase premium, guaranteed inventory at your own established rates without needing to RFP, by purchasing programmatically (automated guaranteed).
Buy
  • For guaranteed inventory, the number of impressions and rate you are purchasing inventory for has been solidified, whether through established rates or by receiving a proposal back from a supplier.
  • Complete your media plan with every placement from every supplier to be included in your campaign, including the time frame each placement will run.
  • Many buyers must secure approval for their media plan prior to formalizing their order in the form of an IO.
  • For buys facilitated via RTB, agency or agency trading desk buyers will submit budget line items to their DSPs, and direct publishers if applicable.
Order
  • The media plan is executed, with placements sent to the ad server, waiting their opportunity to be served to the correct audience.
  • Orders are processed as "IOs" or "insertion orders" which include the planned billings for a campaign.
  • The buyer-seller relationship continues throughout the order process, if any revisions are needed to an insertion order.
Traffic
  • The ad-ops or trafficking team is responsible for logging into the ad server(s) associated with the campaign and tagging the placements on the ad server with their appropriate pieces of creative.
  • Tags for size, media type, and more are associated with each placement.
  • It is generally best practice to tag a back-up static piece of creative for each placement in cases where dynamic creatives are unable to be served.
Analyze
  • A necessary part of managing every campaign is measuring success, holistically as well as on a more granular level.
  • You can use both first-party delivery data (from the publisher's ad server) and third-party delivery data (from the agency ad server).
  • Performance can be tracked all the way from the specific creative up to a holistic campaign view, and even cross-campaign. Pacing measures how budget is being spent relative to time within a campaign's flight.
Reconcile
  • Agencies and publishers compare their delivery data and other financials, and work to reconcile discrepancies.
  • Financials for current and future campaigns may be amended based on overdelivery or underdelivery of a campaign.
  • Final costs per supplier, per time period are communicated to the billing system for Accounts Payable.