Buying Local Media Air-Time Yourself?

The Media Mix
had a call this morning from a gentleman name DJ. He’s located in a small town in Alabama. He was on our website and wanted to talk with me. He said he might want to buy air time on NBC and could I tell him 5 – 10 steps about how to go about buying TV media himself.

I told him that for local media, he could call a station or cable network directly and ask for the Sales Department. They would assign an Account Executive who would be glad to come out and get him set up with media time.

But should he?
Well .. .no, probably not.

He should have a professional media buyer negotiate his media or atleast advise him. While local stations (radio or TV) would be happy to sell the owner of a firm media time, you might not get the best deal. Better to hire a professional media buyer who can help you get the “biggest bang for your buck”.


  • Buying media properly is complex as media time is sold as a commodity and requires negotiation. Timing is a crucial factor with prices fluctuating based on supply and demand.
  • A good Media Planner/Buyer can ensure that your advertising campaign will have more impact and will be able to: 

    • act as your advocate, protecting your best interests
    • develop a solid media plan on how best to spend the money: who, where, when, how much etc.
    • help you stretch your budget to make sure your dollars go further
    • handle all the details, paperwork and track results while overseeing the advertising campaign and
    • save you money by buying the whole schedule including fees for less than you would spend
  • Stations can be of help in better understanding the local media market. Be sure to talk with several because they are all “Number 1” at something.

The bottom line is a retail owner who doesn’t have experience with media probably needs professional help. He/she would not be able to glean the nuances, “separate the wheat from the chaff” (separate things of value from things of no value) and sort out how to get the most efficient media buy. And since the secret to media marketing strategy puzzles is IN THE MIX, they wouldn’t know how or what to include in the mix.

First step if you are considering local market broadcast media: check to make sure which media market your town is in. Media market: broadcast market, media region, designated market area (DMA), Television Market Area (FCC term) or simply market is a region where the population can receive the same television and radio station broadcasts. If you’re a retailer with a storefront, determine a radius of miles around your store that you consider your target market area.

My tip for local broadcast media buying be it Television, Cable or Radio: Seek the advice of a media professional – with seasoned media planning and heavy media buying experiece – before you pull out your checkbook or sign on the dotted line. Probably even before you allow several media reps to make your head spin with stats.

Linda Yarbrough is the owner of The Media Mix. She is the author of the Media Marketing Strategy Blog: Yarbys Corner and can be found at Twitter @LindaYarbrough, LinkedIn and Facebook.
Solving your media marketing puzzle is IN THE MIX – The Media Mix!


May be re-published only with Full Author By-Line Bio.


About Yarbys Corner ... Linda Yarbrough

Linda Yarbrough "Yarby" is a marketing and media strategy specialist who expanded her business to actively work on the internet 10 years ago. See our ABOUT page for more professional and personal background.
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4 Responses to Buying Local Media Air-Time Yourself?

  1. Lynn says:

    While the above post is way beyond the scope of where I am at, I do have a question. I have a friend who at many years ago worked for Leo Burnett in Mexico city. His job involved statistical analysis of media reach (not sure if that is the right term). I’m curious about how much things have changed in this line of work.

    Would you be able to boil this down to 5-6 of the most important concepts 10 years ago, and the 5-6 most important marketing concepts that hold true now.


  2. Quite a question, Lynn. And oh so broad. As I thought about how to respond with good solid information without overwhelming everyone with Media Jargon, I came up with a new blog article on Television media buying – then and now. I hope it addresses your question and encourages more.

  3. Ms. kwintessential says:

    Very good look at the importance of having a media buyer take care of purchasing air time. With the tools and understanding of how the local market works, its a much safer and practical approach.

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