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What Is a Media Agency?

Helen Akers
Updated Jan 22, 2024
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A media agency is a company that helps other firms design and implement media plans. These plans are strategic blueprints for how a firm can best advertise and promote its business. Firms solicit the services of a media agency to tell them where and how they should be communicating with their customer base. Agencies may also negotiate rates and purchase the actual ad space for the firm.

Some media agencies are a part of a larger advertising firm that handles the creative design of a company's ads and public relations. Media planners are primarily responsible for finding out who the company's target consumers are and how to best reach them. A media agency may receive predetermined budget figures from its clients or it may need to determine them based on its service fee.

The goal of a media agency is to determine the proper mix of media sources — such as newspapers, magazines, outdoor billboards, and social media — that will provide the greatest return on investment. In other words, the media selection should reach the right amount of potential customers at a certain frequency in order to recoup the costs of the campaign and add to the profitability of the business. A media agency will often conduct marketing research in order to determine what sources of media the target consumer is most likely to encounter.

For example, an athletic shoe manufacturer that is targeting young females concerned with physical fitness and appearance would be more likely to reach that consumer segment by placing advertisements in female health and fitness magazines. The same advertisement placed in a computer magazine with a predominately male readership would not be as effective. In addition, a firm would not want to solely concentrate on female health and fitness magazines, but also might incorporate television ads during daytime talk shows.

Some agencies incorporate the use of digital media into their marketing. Online social networks sell advertising space and allow for the creation of fan pages where promotional information can be simultaneously distributed to a mass audience. Other social media platforms allow for the creation of an official account that allows firms to distribute information to followers. The use of social media can be a highly targeted and low-cost method of advertising that works similarly to word-of-mouth.

Many media agencies have established partnerships with advertisers and are able to obtain up-to-date rates. The majority of advertisers supply interested individuals with rate cards that display what types of formats are available and their corresponding prices. For example, a television network may sell both 30 second and 60 second spots. Part of the media agency's responsibility is to ensure that the right spots are purchased and secured.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Helen Akers
By Helen Akers
Helen Akers, a talented writer with a passion for making a difference, brings a unique perspective to her work. With a background in creative writing, she crafts compelling stories and content to inspire and challenge readers, showcasing her commitment to qualitative impact and service to others.
Discussion Comments
By serenesurface — On Oct 22, 2014

Even celebrities work with media agencies these days. I know that quite a few hire their services to handle their social media accounts. Those in charge of this work are called social media managers.

This can be a bad idea actually. Although social media is a great way for a celebrity to keep their fans up to date on their work and events, the fans figure out fairly quickly that someone else is speaking for them. So it is a risk to have a media agency handle social media accounts. I think that a celebrity should handle his or her own account if possible. It's just more real and down to earth and it has more marketing value at the end of the day.

People actually just want to connect. Whether it's a famous brand, business or celebrity

By donasmrs — On Oct 21, 2014

@fify-- Some firms do not have a whole media team and sometimes, hiring and training someone with that expertise may not be worth it. Other times, there may be a new and big marketing campaign that requires additional assistance simply because of its size and budget.

It actually requires a lot of training and expertise to understand a market very well and determine what type of media marketing would best result in sales for a firm. It require research, statistical work and expertise in many different areas. A media agency already has this expertise and provides it at competitive rates. It costs less to have a media agency work on these things than to hire and train more people to do it. And when a firm hires a media agency, it's usually for a certain term or specific project. So they don't stay on the payroll for a long time. It's more cost-effective and also productive to work with a media agency.

By fify — On Oct 21, 2014

Don't most firms have a marketing team that handles media and advertisement work? Why would firms hire media agencies?

Helen Akers
Helen Akers
Helen Akers, a talented writer with a passion for making a difference, brings a unique perspective to her work. With a...
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