So as I was saying earlier, assume ABC Motors (the client) has a new car that they want to advertise. They would work with their advertising agency’s planning department to decide how much they want to spend on a national or a local level.
National advertising - these are the commercials that everyone in America sees at the same time. Most Super Bowl ads fall into this category.
This is sort of blanket/shotgun type advertising and is difficult to target your message to specific demographics or areas of the country.
Local advertising - as you can guess, these are ads that are run on a local level. The United States is divided into many DMA’s, or Designated Market Areas. Chicago is a DMA, Milwaukee is a DMA, Wichita is a DMA. Each DMA does not just cover the city that it’s named for, but usually a larger area covering several counties. There is usually only one large population base per DMA though.
I work in a department that buys time on a local level This means that the client tells our agency how much money they want to spend to market their product in a particular DMA - but not only how much they want to spend, but what they want to achieve with those dollars, namely Ratings Points.
So what our job is, is to take the clients budget and ratings needs - and use that information to negotiate an advertising schedule with an individual station to maximize the client’s exposure to their desired demographic.
Whew… Ok, this isn’t so brief afterall.
So to boil it down a bit, the client tells the agency (if they use one, some have internal ad departments) to spend X amount of dollars to achieve Y amount of ratings points in a specific market. A Media Buyer (what I do) negotiates with the station either directly, or through their rep firm (more on that later) to get the most bang for their buck. If a client wants to market to Males aged 25-54, they’re probably not going to advertise in Days of our Lives or Dr. Phil. So we’re responsibile for looking at a market, and putting together a schedule that will give our client what they’re looking for.
There are a lot of nuts and bolts to this process that I’ve glossed over or left out completely, but I hope that gives you a basic idea of how this thing works.