When I say I work in advertising, people always ask where they have seen my work and what products I advertise; but when I mention I work in media, their enthusiasm fades and their eyes glaze over. Media buying is a misunderstood occupation that requires personal relationships as well as negotiations to ensure success for your clients.

Negotiation is an art with the top prize culminating in the greatest benefits for your clients. In the fifth season of “Mad Men,” Roger Sterling said, “The only thing worse than not getting what you want is someone else getting it.” How you achieve these goals for your clients is a spirited contest played by those in media. Here are some key insights which will lead you down the path to success.

Media outlets are your partners. It is imperative to remember this in order to achieve the best for your clients. It is a three-way relationship between the media, agency and client. Strong partnerships lead to:

  • Knowledge. Media representatives call on several agencies and clients, not just you. They can provide both histories and forecasts of the industry, your clients and competitors. They also offer key insights into unique opportunities.
  • Creativity. Working closely with your media representatives allows you and your clients to innovate new ideas that meet your goals, strategies and objectives.
  • Best rates, positions and programs. A tight working relationship with your media representatives leads to the best rates for your clients, positioning and programs. Being open about your clients’ needs allows different media partners to provide unique options and one-of-a-kind opportunities for placements, programs and rates.

Think about quality, not just quantity. It is important to remember that getting the most of something is not always the best. Placing media in the right environment is just as important as the page you are on, the number of impressions or the gross rating points (GRPs) received. The correct atmosphere may be niche rather than a broad scope for the masses. Again, it all depends on your objectives.

Accountability required. Today’s media environment provides an opportunity for accountability no matter what the outlet. Make-goods are a proven example of accountability that have been common in traditional media since advertising began. If your ad did not run in the right place or at the right time, then additional advertising is provided at no charge. With digital media, though, there are additional considerations beyond receiving what is outlined on the insertion order. This is why having a strong relationship with your media partners is imperative.

Beware – If ads are placed impulsively, you may experience issues with:

Fraud. In a recent report by the Association of National Advertisers and White Ops, it was estimated that $6.3 billion will be spent on fraudulent impressions in 2015. That’s roughly 50 to 60 percent of advertiser spend according to the report. Understanding what sites are doing to combat BOTs and domain spoofing is imperative. Strong media relationships provide insight into what outlets and publishers are currently doing and what is coming in the future. You can read more in Shannon Sullivan’s blog “Digital Ad Fraud – What You May Not Know.”

Brand Safety. As ad networks and other aggregated media buying platforms increase, media professionals as well as clients need to be concerned about where their ads are running and what content they’re appearing next to. Transparency is key. Having a strong media partnership helps ensure that your clients will be placed in the right environment and that you know exactly what sites your ads are running on. As brand safety and transparency grow, so too will the ad dollars in the digital marketplace.

Relationships are not easy; they take work. Here at M/C/C, we never shy away from asking the tough questions of our media partners, our clients or ourselves because we have an unexpected passion for media.

Previously published on The M/C/C Blog.