The differences of media buying from country to country.

world_mapFor creatives working in ad agencies I think part of us is always fascinated as to how exactly the media arm of an agency works. Unlike the creative side, which despite cultural sensitivities is pretty global, the media department is stuffed to the gullet full of nuances and differences.

To elaborate on some of these differences from my own experiences, in Australia TV ads are bought in advertising blocks usually for the whole show. Therefore it is not uncommon on a lot of channels to get a deluge of ads for P&G or Qantas for an entire evening. This way of buying is natural to any Australian media company (indeed one of the biggest owners and operators famously has a media mantra of TV, TV, TV for a specialist media plan for any new client.)

However, in New Zealand this is an altogether alien proposition where individual ad spots are bought and sold on in much the same way that shares in the share market are bought and sold on depending on the need of their clients.  Sometimes you might see a V energy drink spot shown in the middle of Coronation St which indicates the media company has been unable to successfully get all the spots sold and bought for an appropriate campaign and thus has to take a hit.

Also in Saudi Arabia, another country where I worked, adshels (or moopis/ mupis as they are known there) can only be bought in blocks of 50 or more in preset routes. Rather than buying individual bus shelter ads you have to buy them in groups whether or not your demographic or sociographic fits inside half of the locations (these are set locations by the way it’s not like you get to pick your 50 best spots).

On the back of this I am surprised with some of the media spots I’ve seen in the UK. Long heralded as the birthplace of advertising, (much to chagrin of New Yorkers) London has often been seen as the mecca of advertising.

Therefore, it is funny to see in my own subjective view a waste in media buying such as the same message on two billboards practically side by side (see pic). Given we are in the 21st century I would have thought that such wastage would have been in the history or relegated to the adshels of Saudi Arabia. Unless, of course, that the media agency responsible honestly believes that this media strategy will have twice the effectiveness in sales that one billboard will bring.


Perhaps the people selling the space are bundling it to increase their revenues? I think you're looking at it from the perspective of the person buying the media, rather than asking yourself what the vendor's profit maximising strategy would be.Also, your in-line commenting function isn't working for me and loses my comment when it redirects me to the standard Blogger commenting interface.

posted by rauparaha / 11.07.11 - 10:48 pm

hmmm sorry to hear about the blogger interface. Any troubleshooting suggestions?That's an interesting point re: what the vendor's profit maximising strategy would be and to be honest I have no idea given I don't work in media. But considering accounts are won and lost on effectiveness of campaigns you would think that over time the media companies would have the decision (read power) to pinpoint when and where their billboards should be to gain maximum effectiveness for any given campaign. In essence I'd always assumed that the might of the advertising agency would be stronger than that of any individual billboard vendor and therefore billboard operators will bend over backwards to please media departments. I know that buying billboards site by site is the case in New Zealand but am surprised that bundling happens in the UK unless of course there is another reason: that of a lazy media manager on the account who doesn't check all the sites that he books.

posted by Jono / 11.07.11 - 11:03 pm
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