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Why Walter White Would Have Made One Heck of a Media Buyer

By Jenna Bruce on Tue, Jul 01, 2014 @ 10:29 AM |


I admit, I am coming late to the “Breaking Bad” party, just like I came late to “The Sopranos” party and “Downton Abbey” party. But hey, I arrive eventually. So as I’m watching an episode of Breaking Bad the other night on Netflix (I’m only on season two, so please don’t tell me what happens) it occurs to me Walter White would have made one heck of a media buyer.

Why Walter White Would Have Been a Good Media BuyerI mean, it has been said media buying is an art as much as it is a science – kind of like cooking pure crystal meth, wouldn’t you agree? Great media buyers are experts in their field, have the ability to identify new opportunities, and are fearless negotiators, which is why I posit that Walter would have been great at it.

Here are some other reasons:

He wasn’t afraid to take risks

Walter was a risk taker – he had to be. He had an important goal and he wasn’t afraid to try new things (or get into new trouble) in order to reach that goal.

By the same token, in order to set a client’s brand apart and identify a competitive advantage, buyers must also be open to taking necessary risks by testing new platforms, technology and media. Many buyers stick to safe bets that won’t get them in trouble, but playing it safe never leads to marketing innovation.

Age was on his side

How many times did Walter have to school younger Jessie on the smartest, most logical way to go about cooking and selling crystal meth? Yo, Jessie may have had youthful enthusiasm yo, but it was Walter who had what only age can give you – the ability to think and reason and make smart decisions based on good ol’ life experience.

According to Salary.com, 65% of media buyers in the United States have less than five years of experience, and 28% of them have a year or less. While the majority of these buyers have a natural talent and enthusiasm for the service they provide, there is nothing like working with a media buyer with years of experience behind them, which allows them to make the best decisions on their client’s behalf.

Walter didn’t rush things

Everyone knows cooking crystal meth is an art form that takes time – you simply can’t rush it.Media buyers are patient

When it comes to testing the value of a new media channel, it takes patience. A good media buyer won’t expect a new partner to deliver unreasonable results within unreasonable time limits and with a tiny budget. Good buyers make sure their testing is based on actionable data not a random number of days or amount of ad spend. Patience is necessary when trying to determine which new channels to add to a client’s media portfolio.

He was a great negotiator

Remember when Walt had just shaved his head and he went to speak with that drug lord Tuco to do some major negotiating? Who knew chemistry teachers could be so badass? The only thing bad about my chemistry teacher was his breath.

A good media buyer will also have badass negotiating skills and buying influence in both national and local markets. Since buyers often place ads for several clients at once, it gives them a total spend that is much larger than a single company might bring to the table. This level of spending gives them some real negotiating power when it comes time to talk contracts.

He saw the big picture

While Jessie often had tunnel vision when it came to scaling the business, Walt had an easier time seeing the big picture: the need to independently ‘curate’ ingredients, tap into locations and opportunities for selling, and raise prices on their goods.

Media buyers have the ability to see the big picture in a way that an individual sales rep can’t. The buyer has done critical research and knows their client’s target customers and marketing goals, and can place orders based on meeting their clients advertising needs at the best possible prices.

You may not be able to hire Walter to buy media for you, but you can look for a buyer who is also not afraid of risks, has patience and experience, is a great negotiator and possesses the ability to see the big picture.

Download the CMO's Guide to Media Buying 


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