Media Planners and Buyers: What Are They Thinking?

The first rule of selling is “know thy customer,” so Kantar Media SRDS and the James G. Elliott Co. jointly conduct the Study of Media Planning and Buying.  The purpose of this study is to understand the media planning and buying information needs of media planners and buyers at agencies and what the general expectations of these media people are.  Earlier this year, we reported results of the second study in this series, which confirmed the results of the first study two years ago. 

These were the four objectives of the 2015 Study of Media Planning & Buying:


  • To understand the habits of media planners and buyers.
  • To learn about the types of clients and plans that media planners and buyers are working with.
  • To determine the types of resources used for planning and buying.
  • To understand what factors have an impact on media selection.


In June, Steve Davis, President of Kantar Media, and I presented the results to executives and others responsible for revenue generation in membership organizations at annual meetings of the ABM, AM&P, and the AABP.  And, on October 21, 2015, we will be speaking at the Folio: Show in New York.  Given today’s advertising environment, there has been a lot of interest in this subject.

At the 2015 ABM & INFORMATION INDUSTRY SUMMIT, we delivered “What Do Media Buyers Really Want?”  For this business-to-business audience, we especially emphasized how the game is changing with new interest in technology-driven buying solutions like programmatic advertising.

Because the audience at the AM&P (Association Media & Publishing) Annual Meeting includes a high percentage of association executive directors and editors, who may be two or three steps removed from the sales process, we introduced more information about the extreme workloads and time constraints that agency people work under these days, and what that means to sellers.  Many in the audience were shocked to learn that 99% of respondents expect an average of 29% discount off rate card, and that 80% think print costs should stay the same or decrease next year.

The AABP (Alliance of Area Business Publishers) is an organization of local and regional business publications.  Most of the attendees at their meeting were publishers and owners whose business consists primarily of regional advertising.  We talked about “Getting a Grip on National Advertising,” citing the study’s findings about the importance of syndicated research and how it is used, the special problems for local publishers posed by the speed required to serve agencies at the moment they need information, and the lack of any second chances given to sellers after the plan has been decided.  

One key point of the 2015 study is the importance of additional assets to the planning/buying decision.  Buyers continue to buy print, but publishers must think beyond print to offer them the integrated packages they want. 

At the upcoming Folio: Show that will be held on  October 21st in New York City, our topic will be “Relationship Selling: On the Wane, or More Important Than Ever?” Without tipping our hand in advance, I am sure that we will explore that question in light of the average respondent workload—planning and/or buying media for 6 clients and 7 brands.  They really do not have time to waste with salespeople who do not bring them value every time, or with business entertainment that cuts into their very limited time.  We hope you will join us at our 11:15 am session.

The big news in the 2015 study is the interest in and use of programmatic advertising.  We found that 67% of respondents are now involved with programmatic buying at some level.  This new technique is touching most of us in the advertising business in some way, and the study’s agency respondents seem to be ready to make this a standard tool of their trade.

The study is packed with valuable information, and we would like to offer it to you at no charge.  Get the full report at  An 8-page summary, Publisher’s Guide to Understanding Today’s Media Buyers, is available at