Why use a media buying service when you can do it directly with the individual media?

Use the Phoenix market, as an example. There are three major radio station groups: I Heart Radio, Bonneville, Entercom, and Hubbard who own a total of 17 radio stations. In the television world there are the four affiliates (FOX, ABC, NBC, and CBS), an Indy (KTVK, which has joint ownership with CBS), one major cable system and a couple of niche players. Without research, how would you know what to buy, how much to spend, how much is too much to pay for each given spot, or if what you ordered even ran properly? How would you know you were getting the best strategy for your money or the most cost-efficient combination?

You wouldn’t.

Now, look at the major factors of a quality media buy:

Audience: A quality media buying service- whether it’s an ad agency of a media buying house, will be able to pull research and fit the right audience with the persona a business is trying to reach. With thousands of options, it’s a necessary step in creating an effective media buying strategy.

Rates: The price of each message can vary up to 30%, depending on station inventory, the negotiation, and the media representative. A good media buyer will be able to use a cost per rating point to achieve a better media buy at a lower price. A good negotiation takes at least three rounds with several media players to determine the best deal for the client.

Market knowledge: Knowing if the market is strong or weak will allow the media buyer to make adjustments in the way they negotiate. In a strong market, a buyer needs to soften up their skills. In a weak market, they need to toughen up. In either case, complete disclosure of where the market is and how low it is coming in will entice most sales representatives to deal.

A good media buy that produces results for your business takes time and expertise. While it may cost 15% of the spend to hire a quality media buying service or agency, consider this: Would you spend 15% to save 30%? Also consider what your time is worth and better strategy offered by such a service creates better results.

Many people enjoy media buying because of the free tickets and station perks. But they are not free. They are, indeed, quite expensive.

Rosaria Cain is CEO of knoodle, a marketing firm that provides creative, digital, content and media services for clients around the country. Ms. Cain has taught marketing, emerging media and media classes for The Art Institute of Phoenix and has been a speaker for the National Association of Women Business Owners and other organizations.