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.