I’m a huge fan of pop culture. From Rolling Stones to DC shirts, I bagged ‘em all. But I couldn’t get them at the nearest shopping mall. Back in the day, I had to scurry through New Market to get one. But after that, I couldn’t feel my legs, man.

So, when I came across an Arctic Monkeys’ t-shirt ad on my Instagram feed,  I was in seventh heaven! But that’s not it. The other day, I was looking at some burger joints’ reviews. A couple of days later, a king-sized cheesy burger appeared on my Facebook newsfeed and startled me for good. 

I was no stranger to the algorithms that were used on social media to curate content. But what I didn’t know it’s not just algorithms playing in the background. The mystery behind all those curated ads is a comprehensive process called Programmatic Media Buying.

In a nutshell, media buying is the purchasing of media space and time to convey relevant ads to the target audience. (Kovalenko 2018)

To tell you the truth, media buying really got to me. This led me to begin my research. I discovered that over the years, Media Buying went through a significant change. With the advent of digital media, things have gotten more sophisticated and automated. Luckily for us, this evolution has made things simpler and more effective.

But then I wanted to learn how the wizards do their magic. So, I sat with our team of experts at Notionhive. From what I have gathered, there are 5 steps to successful media buying.

1. Setting the goals

Let’s say, you’re an astronaut. Your space station wants you to travel to this newly discovered planet called ‘DBZ’. But you can’t just go sightseeing in ‘DBZ’ now, can you? There needs to be a purpose. Maybe your space station wants you to go see if this newfound planet is habitable or not.

Similarly, your first task would be to understand the purpose of the campaign. You should have your goals set before anything else. From building brand awareness, converting leads into sales, increasing traffic to your website, driving actions such as online registration, promoting a new product, targeting new customers, and retaining older ones, you need to understand what you want for your brand. (Kim Kosaka)

2. Specifying target audience

Once the goal is set, you need to precisely identify your target audience. You can’t just direct your campaign to anyone you like. I can bet that a calamity would occur if Apple advertised its products to people who find solace in living under a rock instead of those who are innovative and tech-savvy.

Once you get a clear idea of who your audience is, study their lifestyle in detail. See what brands they usually purchase from, what are their hobbies, their interests, what do they usually do in their leisure time, which social media platforms they are most active on, and from Dhanmondi to Uttara, see where they prefer hanging out. Analyzing all the ins and outs of your targeted audience may act as a crucial factor to intrigue them almost instantly when you launch your campaign.

3. Researching competitors

Heard of the famous Godfather quote, ‘Keep your friends close but your enemies closer’?

Well, I’m not implying media buying is that dramatic. But your competitors can prove to be of great asset. Since you both are selling similar products, you want to give your customers a good enough reason to replace your competitor’s brand with yours. Thoroughly researching your competitors will also give you a heads-up about any likely ups and downs of your campaign. (Kovalenko 2018)

Even spying on your enemies became digital and easy. Rather than hiring James Bond or Ethan Hunt, you can use competitor research tools to keep a lookout on your competitors. Some of these notable digital marketing tools are SEMrush, SpyFu, and Ahrefs. All of which provide you with a detailed report of your competitors’ top organic keywords and competitors, and the amount of traffic they get. (Baadsgaard 2017)

4. Designing media buying strategy

While strategizing, you need to ask yourself a couple of very important questions: Firstly, which social media platforms to bankroll on. Secondly, why do you want to capitalize on these platforms? And thirdly, how much do you want to invest in all of these platforms.

You have plenty of social media sites to choose from. But the question is which ones would be the best use to you. Allow me to answer this with the case of Netflix. According to Business Insider Survey, 64.59% of the digital natives check Instagram regularly. In another report by Morning Consult, Netflix is the second most popular brand among Gen Z. 

Based on these two statistics, we can make an assumption that if Netflix had to leverage the most out of the several social media platforms, Instagram would be the one to capitalize on. 

But Netflix cannot completely disregard other social media platforms. They need to allocate their budget to other social media platforms too. After all, there are customers of different age range using platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. So, considering Netflix’s scenario, my hypothetical budget would be, 60% on Instagram, 10% each on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube, and the remaining 10% on others.

Before the age of the internet, you had to go negotiate with media vendors to place your ads. It was fun and all but boy, you would be in trouble if you lacked the proper negotiating skills. These days it’s a lot easier. Online advertising platforms such as Google Ads and Facebook Business made it very convenient to place your ads. But you gotta take your time and develop an effective strategy so that your ads reach your targeted audience with the right outcome.

5. Launching & monitoring the campaign

This is the takeoff phase in the media buying process. You’re going to take your plan off the paper and lay it out to your audience. At this stage, you are an astronaut full of beans. Your heart begins to palpitate as you are an inch away from pushing the red button…

Pre-launch phase: Keeping track of time

But, waiitt! Before you push that button, you need to see if you’re at the right time.

You can’t just launch your campaign whenever you feel like it. Time plays a key factor in the launching phase of your campaign. You need to see when your targeted audience is available. 

This year, the film Joker created a buzz among the Bangladeshi fans of the Clown Prince of Crime. To transform the buzz into an exciting event, Pathao teamed up with Cineplex to launch the #SpotTheJoker campaign. Pathao food men appeared at your doorstep dressed up as Joker. All you had to do is click a picture and upload it with the hashtags – #SpotTheJoker & #PathaoXCineplex.

Their timing was perfect! 

If the campaign was launched after a couple of months, it would have been pretty pointless. As the hype would have died down by then. So, for a successful campaign, timing is very crucial.

Post-launch phase: Monitoring the campaign

Pushing the red button isn’t the end of your media buying journey. Your rocket may have taken off but you gotta check where it’s heading to and at what rate. Simply put, you need to monitor your campaign. 

After the launch, some customers would be like the constellation, shining bright on your campaign. On the contrary, some customers would be like the meteorites, hampering your ride. Irrespective of the situation, you need to deal with the feedback immediately. 

Now, change is good, so they say. That said, some of the strategies might change according to the feedback you receive. The results of your campaign may be unsatisfactory or it’s not reaching your targeted audience. In such cases, you need to shift your parameter and make changes to your keywords, accordingly. That’s not a bad thing overall. Changes can help your initial plan to grow.

Well, folks, that’s pretty much it for media buying from me. See, just setting up a Facebook page and boosting your wonderful content won’t let your business strive further. It’s trickier than you think. But there are agencies who know the tricks to convey your creatives to your desired audience. Collaborating with agencies even has its own benefits.

Wondering what those benefits could be? In the next blog post, my bookworm colleague, Sharfin, will walk you through all the details and perks of working with a team of experts. 

Au revoir!


  • Ben Zimmerman 2019, Is The Art Of Media Buying Dead?, Forbes, viewed 19th July, 2019.
  • A Beginner’s Guide To Media Planning & Buying, Mediatool, viewed 19th July, 2019, <>.
  • Irina Kovalenko 2018, The 3 Stages of Media Buying Process, SmartyAds, viewed 19th July, 2019.
  • Jacob Baadsgaard 2017, The 6 Best Competitor Research Tools You Should Be Using, Disruptive Advertising, viewed 19th July, 2019.