New Media Planner and Buyer’s Toolkit for 2023

black and white image of tools on a workbench

The first question media planners and buyers always should ask new customers is why they have decided to invest in a paid media strategy. While it may seem like a throw-away question, it tells us a lot up front about how well our clients understand the mechanics of advertising. By learning about an organization’s prior experience with running media campaigns we know where to start our strategic intake conversation and can begin to assemble the tools in our paid media toolkit that will do the best job.

Setting Client Expectations

Answers usually fall into two categories: 1. They want to raise awareness of their brand, or 2. They’re looking to drive more sales leads. Typically, after a little more introspection, we’ll find out that what they’re really looking for is a combination of both awareness and lead generation to move the needle on their bottom line. 

Once we establish the goals for our new client’s media campaign, we’ll follow up by asking more detailed questions about other important elements like target audiences, lead collection, budgets and access to design and web-related resources. If time allows, we’ll offer them a high-level description of the paid media marketplace, contrasting media tactics from the standpoint of both impression delivery and metrics. 

The Media Planner’s Toolkit

We find it helpful to use a toolkit metaphor when talking about the range of media tactics available to advertisers these days. Take the hammer, for example. Hammers are generally used to pound things into one another and are great at banging nails or crushing stones. They’re very powerful but even when wielded properly, they aren’t all that discriminating or precise. 

“One of the things I like most about my job as a media planner/buyer is that I get to be a professional ‘campaign builder’ with many tools at my disposal.”

On the opposite end of this toolbox analogy is the ¼ inch drill bit. This tool is sized to perform a very specific action and because of that, it can’t be used for just any job. A contractor will only pull this individual bit out of her toolbox if she wants to drill a particular-sized hole. Anything bigger or smaller just won’t do. 

Building a Media Plan

Media planners work in much the same way as builders use their toolboxes. There are media tactics, like hammers, that cover a broad range of audiences and are measured in more general terms. And then there are media tactics, like drill bits, that are highly precise and designed to deliver very specific audience metrics. One of the things I like most about my job as a media planner/buyer is that I get to be a professional “campaign builder” with many tools at my disposal. When you consider the overall universe of traditional and digital tactics, we’re talking about hundreds of choices!

The symbolic hammers of the traditional media world are tactics such as outdoor billboards, broadcast television commercials, newspapers and terrestrial radio spots. These advertisements reach more general audiences, and they do best when promoting more universal brand messaging. Traditional media outlets like these work best when used to introduce audiences to a new product or service or remind existing users that an already familiar brand is out there with something new to say.

Over in the digital space, we would classify broad reach elements like display banners or streaming audio ads in the hammer category. It’s not so much about the format of the ad, as it is about how the target users access the messaging, that determines which category it fits into. One caveat is that awareness vehicles may come with their share of waste due to having such a wide delivery span. 

On the other side of the toolbox, we find highly targeted ads running on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Google. We’re able to drill down deeply into demographic, psychographic and geographic channels using these vehicles due to the sheer amount of available audience data. If we want to go even further, we’ll select a tactic like IP Targeting that pushes ads out to a list of selected IP addresses making this tactic a great advertising partner to support a direct mail push or email blast. 

Variables That Affect Campaign Costs

Rule of thumb tells us a campaign’s cost per thousand impressions (CPM) are more expensive when using a more targeted media tactic, and less expensive when choosing more wide-ranging media vehicles. For those reasons, we tend to blend awareness and conversion vehicles together in our media plans to make sure we are engaging with the customer’s target audiences wherever they fall across the knowledge spectrum while keeping average CPMs at a more affordable rate.

Data collected via our in-house dashboard shows us that media plans mixing awareness and conversion tactics are always more effective, meaning they generate the most cost-efficient impression delivery and show the steadiest growth in number of conversions over the course of a campaign. Providing our clients with access to the advertising industry’s complete media toolbox, while layering on careful oversight and experiential knowledge, positions us to offer the most successful campaign outcomes to achieve your ROI goals. 

Head over to our Work tab to check out some successful paid media case studies illustrating the benefits of multi-layered media campaigns.

Let’s Start Building Together!

Are you ready to learn more about our team’s paid media expertise and how we’ll use our media toolkit to promote your brand? Or maybe you just have a few questions and need to get better informed before getting started? Either way, we’d love to hear from you and hope you’ll get in touch with us today!

Anne Richardson

Anne Richardson is the owner and media director of Richardson Media Group, an agency specializing in media planning and buying, advertising campaign management, and SEO.


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Anne outside the door of the Richardson Media Group office.

In addition to her role as owner and media director here at RMG, Anne authors the majority of our blog posts and hosts our BSuite podcast. Favorite topics for both platforms include the entrepreneurial journey, sustainability + social responsibility, media planning, media buying, and forming productive agency partnerships.