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New to Media Buying? Here’s How to Negotiate with Vendors

By Jenna Bruce on Mon, Mar 18, 2019 @ 10:00 AM |


As media buyers, we have learned a trick or two over the years about getting the best media deals possible for our clients. And, while it will always be easier for professional media buyers to get these deals (after all, we’ve spent years nurturing relationships with media reps and publishers), there are some things CMOs can do to negotiate some pretty sweet deals.

Here are some tips on negotiating with media vendors to lock in the best deals:

Research First

Media reps are extremely busy people and they don’t have a lot of time to answer questions. It’s a good idea to do some research beforehand to identify which properties and channels make the most sense for your brand’s campaign. Why waste your time or anyone else’s reaching out to a rep whose publication doesn’t cater to your particular demographic?

So, do your homework to find the right channels. Once you do, conduct even more research to understand as best you can what each publication offers and at what price. Buying media can be a bit like buying a car. The more knowledge you have, the more serious you’ll be taken.

Rely on the Media Rep’s Expertise

No matter how much research you’ll do, you obviously won’t know the publication as well as the media rep you’re working with. Depending on how long they’ve been there, they will have learned all there is to know. So pick their brains and let them work their magic on your campaign’s behalf.

For instance, your rep should be able to come up with innovative programs that will help your campaign stand out from the crowd. They should also be able to come up with strategies that will help you make the most of your ad spend.

Think Like a Professional Media Buyer

When we were just starting out years ago, we thought of each bit of contact we made with media reps not as one-offs, but as the start of a long-term relationship. We knew the more common courtesy we showed them, the more we made ourselves available to them, the stronger the relationship would become and the better the deals we could get for our clients.

You must think and act like a pro media buyer. Understand that you’re making human connections that will help you moving forward in your campaigns. Be sure to return calls and emails quickly and take the time to listen to your rep’s ideas and suggestions. If you talk to media reps only when you need something, you’ll never forge a real partnership. The stronger your relationships, the better your buys.

Play a Little Hardball

You have two goals when first meeting with a media rep: get the best deal possible, and get some respect. You may want to jump at the very first offer they give you, but play a little hardball. It’s a bit like haggling for a rug in Marrakesh: they will respect you more if you go through the back and forth bartering motions.

So, NEVER accept the first proposal. You don’t need to have an attitude, just smile and politely say that you are super excited about working with them, but that your job is on the line and you have to look like a hero when you report back to management. Also mention you’d hate to have to cancel the program in the future for lack of performance and tell them the price needs to come down and the value-added placements need to go up for this to work. Trust us – this works.

Think Future BuysDouble exposure design. Business partners, partnership concept with two businessman handshake

When your rep knows that you will keep coming back for more buys, he or she will naturally want to keep you very happy. This is why advanced renewals are generally offered at some pretty steep discounts. And, the longer you work with the same rep, the better those discounts can get!


Making great media buys can be the difference between a campaign that succeeds and one that fails. If you know what you’re doing, you can definitely make smart buys while building important relationships at the same time.

Having said that, not every marketing manager has the bandwidth to be their brand’s buyer. It’s important to take a realistic view of things. While you may assume you do not have the budget to work with a professional media buyer like MediaSpace, ultimately a pro buyer will get you better deals than you could realistically get yourself, even using these insider tips.

So, at the end of the day, you are apt to spend less on ads and get a higher ROI using a media buyer. If you choose the right one, they usually pay for themselves and then some!

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