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You may have heard the term before, but what does it actually mean? According to Investopedia. media buying is the “act of acquiring real estate or inventory where advertisements may be placed”. In the pre-digital era, this would refer to ads placements on billboards, newspapers, television channels, magazines, etc. Nowadays, ads can also be placed on digital platforms like websites and mobile apps.
Media buying is an essential aspect of any marketing campaign – good media buys allow ads to be shown to the maximum number of targeted customers possible on a given budget. As media buying has largely become an online operation, it becomes inevitably at the mercy of digital trends and tech changes. In this article, we’ll be studying how digital trends have affected the process of media buying, and how ad placements and creatives have changed over the years.
When it comes to digital ads, there’s no doubt that Facebook Ads and Google Ads dominate the market. According to a study by eMarketer, Facebook and Google will make up 19.3% and 36.3% respectively of total US digital ad spend in 2020. Google has search ads which appear at the top and bottom of Google’s search engine results page (SERP), display ads that appear on affiliated apps and websites on their Google Display Network, and video ads that appear on YouTube. Facebook has a similar programme called Audience Network that shows ads on affiliate apps and websites, and also shows ads on their native search engine, news feed and stories (for both Facebook and Instagram).
In the same study, Amazon was forecasted to make up 4.5% of total US digital ad spend in 2020, which is up from 2.7% in 2018. Amazon was found to have “significant reach and dominance in rich shopper data” which the company can use to “ramp up the placement of ads in other areas”.
While Amazon is set to compete against Facebook and Google, other advertising platforms have existed long before them, and also managed to keep up with the latest digital trends. Email marketing has been around since 1978 and has evolved from being text-basted only to include graphics, video, dynamic content and interactivity. Despite being seen as “outdated”, email allows advertisers to engage with audiences on their own terms, which is more compelling than viewing your typical Facebook/Google/Amazon display ad on a website (provided you’re not using an ad blocker).
Another advertising medium that has stayed on top of digital trends is out-of-home (OOH) marketing. Digital billboards have given marketers the flexibility to show targeted/dynamic ads – which make use of cameras and artificial intelligence (AI) to determine the weather, time-of-day, type of car or even a passerby’s gender or age. With the presence of ad blockers and the introduction of 5G networks, digital OOOH is becoming more of a viable option for advertisers to run campaigns. A good example of this is McDonald’s collaboration with Waze (a GPS navigation app), where drivers using the Waze app would be served a McRib ad whenever their vehicle comes to a complete stop. The ad’s call-to-action (CTA) button would redirect the driver to the nearest McDonald’s outlet, where they could purchase a McRib.
The way we buy media has also changed as new digital trends have emerged. In the past, traditional media buying was a complicated and time-consuming process that involved making direct purchases from a salesperson (from a television network or newspaper publisher), manual price negotiation and delays in reporting. Online advertising platforms like Facebook and Google make use of programmatic advertising – where online ads are bought and sold using algorithms and automated processes.
With programmatic advertising, advertisers can bid on ads, generate reports and optimise media buys in real-time, which gives them the resources to gain a better understanding of their campaigns and greater flexibility to make adjustments on the fly. In addition, upcoming tech changes like 5G networks will increase data collection on consumers and allow advertisers to improve their targeting. Companies like Talking Adshave even developed their own media buy AI system called 1NMAN, which learns from its own mistakes to better optimise future media buy campaigns.
Lastly, we have the ad creative, which is arguably the most important part of the media buy. Creatives help to distinguish your ad from the competition and cut through the noise in a crowded media landscape. Images and videos are commonly used creatives in media buys.
Facebook introduced dynamic creatives in 2017, which is a unique creative that the Facebook algorithm generates using a combination of text, image and video from the advertiser. The advantage of using dynamic creatives is that Facebook will analyse the results and optimise the campaign by allocating more resources to better performing creatives. The data collected from these campaigns are also a good way for advertisers to learn more about the types of creatives that work best on their customer base.
Video as a creative medium has also evolved over the years, with the introduction of new video formats like 360° video and augmented reality. Check out this 360° video ad by BMW promoting their M Series cars, which gives viewers the experience of being a passenger in a race car.
Like it or not, digital trends and tech changes are part and parcel of the advertising industry. While it’s impossible to stay on top of all the latest trends, we hope that you’ve gained a better understanding of the media buy process.
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