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Survey the Local Media Buying Landscape with Free Online Resources

Advertising on local media can help you reach your target audience precisely and affordably, but if you’re not specially trained in media buying, negotiating and purchasing airtime can make you feel like a hunk of meat in a sea of sharks. The danger isn’t just that you’ll get torn apart on rates and schedules. With innumerable outlets spread across thousands of markets, just figuring out who all the players are in radio, television, print, and outdoor advertising can seem an impossible task.

Fortunately, some free online resources can help you understand your options in media buying markets large and small. Check out the sites below to see some of the advertisers that populate the local media buying landscape. Once you’ve got a sense for what’s out there, give Vision Media a call and we’ll get started building and implementing a successful local media strategy especially fitted to your business needs.street-sign-tv-radio-outdoor-press-media-buying

Radio: Few advertising platforms sit as securely in the sweet spot between affordability and reach as local radio. But with so many stations spread across the country, it can be hard to know where to start.

To orient yourself, head to Radio Locator, an Internet search engine for broadcast radio stations. Just enter a city or zip code on the site’s homepage, and you’ll see a list of local stations, with links to individual websites and—where available—live audio streams. You can also search by state or station format.

For more detailed market information, check out the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB), an industry trade group. Though the RAB’s primary mission is to promote the interests of the stations themselves—not the advertisers who buy their airtime—its advertisers’ page nonetheless contains a wealth of information, loaded with facts, case studies, and market research.

Television: Local TV can carry your message directly into consumers’ homes—but first, you have to know what your options are. The Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB) website has a search feature that enables you to scout stations by market. In addition to directing you to each station’s own websites, the TVB features data including DMA (designated market area) rankings and cable subscription figures.

Even more cable-specific information can be found through the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau (CAB), which focuses specifically on cable stations. The site’s Network Profiles feature provides detailed data on the reach of networks like ESPN and A&E, while the Cable Systems Directory contains contact and other info for cable providers by state and DMA.

Print: It isn’t hard to find the major newspapers in New York or LA. But if you want to reach consumers in rural Nebraska, it can take some digging. Fortunately, most state press associations maintain listings of local newspapers. The North Carolina Press Association hosts a handy list of many state groups on its website.

Outdoor: Outdoor or “out of home” advertising is an umbrella classification that includes a wide range of advertising platforms and locations, including billboards, posters, public transit, movie theaters, and malls, among many others. Because there are so many providers, finding the right ones to reach your target demographic isn’t easy. The database on DoMedia’s website, while decidedly incomplete, is still be a great place to start, with listings of a variety of out of home media searchable by zip code.

If the range of options and data seems overwhelming—well, that’s because it is! These resources can give you the lay of the land, but when it comes to finding the most appropriate media buying channels and negotiating the best prices, nothing beats having an experienced advocate on your side. Contact Vision Media and you’ll have a team of expert media buyers working to get your campaign off the ground today.

Stephen Reed is the CEO and founder of Vision Media. Based in Redmond, Washington and established in 2002, Vision Media specializes in local and national media buying, strategy and consulting.