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An insider’s guide to media buying

Interested in advertising on TV, but have no idea where to start? Here’s a quick guide to the art of “media buying” –  purchasing ad space on specific stations during a specific time period.

Determine your target demographic.
The first step is to determine who your target demographic is. You will want to choose different stations, programming, and day parts based on the target demographic you are trying to reach. It is common to have both a primary and secondary target demographic. For example, your primary demographic may be Women 35-54, and your secondary may be Adults (or Persons) 35-54.

Decide on your objectives.
After you have determined your target demographic, decide on your media objectives. This usually involves meeting a certain average Cost Per Point for your entire buy, or achieving a certain number of Gross Rating Points. What does all of this media speak mean? Let’s start with rating points:

Rating points are a measure of viewership of a particular television program.

  • 1 rating point = 1% of viewers watching TV in a given time frame out of ALL television-equipped households (whether or not the TV is on or off).
  • Television shows can range between having a rating of 0.1, to as high as 40 or 50 for something as popular as the Super Bowl.
  • Each television program is given a rating point, based on how many television-equipped households have their TV sets on and are watching that show. The higher the percentage of people who watch the show, the higher the show’s rating point.

Share is another measure of viewership of a particular program.

  • A share of 15 = 15% of television-equipped households who had their TV on during that particular time and were watching that particular show. Share is always a larger number than rating because of the way it is determined.
  • For example, the season premiere of “American Idol” may receive a 9.2/15 (rating/share) during its broadcast (nationally), meaning that 9.2% of television-equipped households had their TVs on and were tuned in to that program. However, 15% of all households who were actually watching TV during this timeslot were tuned in to American Idol.

Share and rating are given for shows both in the national market – and in local markets.

Knowing the rating and share of a particular television program is great, and it can help you to make some initial decisions about which programs to buy.

The other half of the equation comes from knowing how much the ad space costs – or Cost Per (Rating) Point (CPP). Generally, the higher a show’s rating point is, the higher the cost of advertising will be. CPP makes for an easy comparison between programming, and tells you which programs are a better “bang for your buck” so to speak. This is the point where a company like Metro Studios can help – because it’s important to have strong relationships with the TV station representatives, and the experience to make negotiations in order to achieve your CPP goals.

What does this mean for you?

What does the future of television look like for advertisers? With the emergence of Internet marketing, some people are skeptical as to whether or not TV is still a smart way of spending ad dollars.

The facts.

A new AdWeek/Harris Poll taken last month, with more than 2,500 respondents, says that television is still by far the medium in which advertisements are most helpful for making purchase decisions— more than double the result of the runner-up medium, newspapers. More than a third of Americans (37%) say that TV commercials are most helpful in making purchase decisions, while 17% said newspaper ads were most helpful and just 14% said internet search engine ads were most helpful. Radio scored with just 3% of respondents; and Internet banner ads- just 1%1.

The bottom line.
TV commercials are here to stay. And with a little help2, you can make an effective media buy to get your message out to potential customers.


1AdWeek/Harris Consumer Poll, July 2009

2As one place with so many solutions, we can also produce your commercial – whether it be TV, Radio, or any other medium. Contact Metro Studios today with your questions about media services.

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