What Does a Media Agency Do?
Media agencies help clients implement and manage marketing strategies to achieve their business goals.
These agencies market their client’s products and services and run paid media campaigns, which aim to increase brand awareness and market share for the purpose of generating more revenue.
This article will explain what media agencies do, including covering the three standard types of media agencies, and how media agencies use both media planning and media buying services to execute advertising campaigns.
Finally, we will close the article by explaining how to determine if you should hire a media agency to help with your advertising needs.
What is a Media Agency?
Media Agencies are companies composed of advertising industry experts, with personnel who know how to plan, place and measure the results of advertising campaigns in a variety of different “channels”, or media outlets, including traditional television, radio or print channels, and more modern channels like email, display, programmatic and paid search.
Typically, media agencies help clients determine how and where they should be spending their marketing dollars, providing details on when to buy ads, where to place those ads, how much to spend on each channel, and importantly, how to measure the effectiveness of the advertising campaigns that they run.
As a result, media agencies can be thought of as an extension of the client corporations and as consultants or advisors to help those organizations market their products and services in the most effective way possible.
Media agencies exist because they are able to offer specialized, expert advice about how to bring products and services to market, and how to plan marketing campaigns that maximize the client’s return on investment.
Traditional, Digital & Integrated Media Agencies
To be clear, there are several different kinds of media agencies, including traditional media agencies, digital media agencies and integrated media agencies, each of which specializes in different forms of advertising.
Traditional agencies tend to emphasize the older marketing strategies like print, radio and television advertising, while more modern digital media agencies focus on online advertising, and integrated media agencies offer support for both traditional and digital efforts.
Let’s look at each type of media agency in detail to better understand what they do and when you would want to consider utilizing them for your own advertising needs.
Traditional Media Agencies
“Traditional” media agencies specialize in the older, non-digital advertising channels, typically focusing on newspapers, television, print, radio and out of home (billboards, signs, etc.), which are essentially all of the forms of advertising that happen off the internet.
Traditional agencies tend to excel at local advertising strategies, where companies are seeking to reach a targeted, local audience, via channels like direct mail, billboards, newspaper ads or other forms of advertising that are targeted more towards a geographic area than a demographic audience.
Traditional agencies have been around for decades, but because budgets have been leaning increasingly digital in recent years, many traditional agencies have begun evolving their services and offering more digital support or simply partnering with digital agencies who can handle that side of the business on their behalf.
While many traditional agencies have downsized, shut down entirely, or simply gone digital, there’s still a huge market for traditional media services. And although there is a tendency to think of traditional advertising as “dying”, it’s unlikely that the need for traditional media agencies and their services will disappear completely any time in the near future.
Digital Media Agencies
Digital media agencies focus on internet or online-based advertising, serving ads primarily over computers and mobile devices.
One of the primary reasons for the growth of digital marketing is that digital advertising strategies tend to offer more advanced audience targeting capabilities and have more sophisticated analytics and reporting capabilities than traditional advertising campaigns.
While traditional advertising has always allowed for some limited targeting opportunities, like location-based targets, digital advertising adds a wealth of additional targeting options. For example, digital ads have the ability to target audience segments based on a whole host of data points, including their location, device types, demographic information and even behavioral factors.
Digital advertising strategies continue to grow increasingly more sophisticated each year and, as new technologies and channels emerge, one thing is certain, digital marketing is not just effective, but also efficient.
Thanks to the rise of complex digital marketing analytics platforms, including sophisticated cross-platform and multi-touch attribution systems, it’s likely that digital advertising will grow even more successful and continue commanding a larger percentage of the total advertising market share in the years ahead.
Integrated Media Agencies
Integrated media agencies are the most modern incarnation of the media agency, and integrated agencies tend to be the most effective type of marketing agency since they offer both traditional and digital marketing services.
By combining media planning and media buying services across both traditional and digital channels under the same roof, integrated media agencies tend to have access to larger budgets and bigger data sets, which allow them to generate better insights about how to run their campaigns.
Integrated agencies typically work for larger clients with bigger spending budgets. This means they have access to more modern and sophisticated research, tools and support systems, including extremely powerful analytics platforms.
This tends to give integrated agencies an edge over traditional media and digital media agencies, allowing integrated agencies to better plan, execute and optimize their campaigns, resulting in better performance for advertisers.
Media Planning Services
Media planning refers to the process of determining how to approach an advertising campaign, including deciding when and where ads should be run and to whom those ads should be targeted.
All three types of media agencies are likely to offer media planning services, as media planning is essential for running successful advertising campaigns.
The media planning process is essential for generating a successful return on investment, as the decisions made here will play a fundamental role in determining the results of advertising efforts.
Successful media planning strategies are capable of generating excellent results in terms of increasing sales and revenue, while poorly constructed media planning processes may result in serving many impressions, but generating very little real-world business value for the advertiser.
Media planners are responsible for formulating advertising campaign strategy, but they typically don’t execute advertising campaigns. Instead, media planners will work with media buying experts who take the plans they’ve built and put them into practice.
Media Buying Services
Professional media buyers take media strategies created by media planners and implement them into action.
Media buying refers to the process of actually running an advertising campaign, including purchasing space for advertisements, placing those advertisements (also called “trafficking”) and measuring the results of these advertising efforts.
Media buyers have the option of placing media in different forms and across various channels, based on the unique needs of the campaign.
Campaign factors that influence the choice of media channels include things like budget, target audience, goals and a series of other considerations.
Some of the most popular media buying channels used in modern advertising campaigns include:
- Programmatic Media
- Search Engine Marketing
- Search Engine Optimization
- Mobile Marketing
- Video Marketing
- Video Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Affiliate / Performance Marketing
- Out of Home
Each of these channels offers its own set of compelling reasons to consider utilizing it. It is up to the media buyer to determine which channel should be utilized for any given campaign or buy.
To ensure optimal performance, media buyers must develop a holistic campaign strategy using the right mix of media channels. And, the wrong mix of media channels may cause the campaign performance to suffer.
As an example, there’s a benefit to running both Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization campaigns at the same time, as industry experts agree that there’s an incremental benefit to coordinating SEM and SEO strategy.
Accordingly, each buy placed is likely to include different amounts of media from each channel to ensure that the campaign is placing compelling marketing messages in front of the right audience and at the right time.
Once media has been placed, media buyers then need to monitor the campaign’s progress to ensure advertising delivery and measure the audience’s response, which includes collecting important performance metrics like impressions, clicks, engagements and sales data.
Media buyers may also be responsible for providing detailed campaign performance reports and for interpreting those reports to clearly explain how their campaigns are performing and glean any actionable insights to guide future media buys.
Clearly, the media planning and buying process is not simple, nor easy, which is why it’s so important to use a professional, experienced and effective media planning and buying team when running advertising campaigns.
Do You Need a Media Agency?
Now that you understand what a media agency is and what media agencies do, it’s time to decide if you need to hire one to help with your own advertising efforts.
This is a simple question to answer, and if you’re running large advertising budgets, looking for cross-platform performance metrics, attempting to maximize ROI or simply feeling overwhelmed by all the advertising opportunities available in the modern market, then it’s probably time to outsource your advertising efforts to a media agency.
Media agencies exist for one sole purpose: to generate a better return on advertising investment than companies can earn doing the same work themselves.
This is why media agencies are staffed with experts who focus on core services like media planning, media buying, analytics and reporting, or other parts of the advertising process that can make an enormous difference in advertising effectiveness.
Simply put, if you’re looking to spend limited marketing dollars wisely, and you want to optimize the real-world results that your advertising investment generates, you should probably consider hiring a media agency like USIM. For details on how we can assist you, please call us at (310) 482-6700, or fill out our Contact Form.