Why hire a media buyer? We visit Saltwater Stone’s media team to learn how data analysis is increasingly used to optimise client budgets

“There’s an awful lot more to it than calling up to place an advert”, says Izzi Birchall, who heads up Saltwater Stone’s media department. “While attending boot Dusseldorf show last month, I was surprised how many people were unaware of the extent of a media buyer’s role and the value they can bring.”

Running through the team’s extensive list of tasks with Izzi, it’s clear their day-to-day analysis makes Saltwater’s media buyers experts in all aspects of the maritime media. By constantly reviewing the quality, readership and audience of print and digital outlets, and assessing any new developments, they can accurately gauge the value of adverts placed with each. Added to this is their knowledge of the success of previous campaigns with Saltwater clients advertising in each maritime sector from leisure and superyachts to commercial shipping.

Izzi explains that knowledge of competitor rates mean they can quantifiably assess which magazine or website will allow them to reach the most people in their target audience for the best value. And, in instances where rates seem disproportionately high, she is able to use data from previous campaigns and knowledge of rival outlets to negotiate down the price – ultimately providing better value for her clients.

Her understanding of how to strategically target campaigns is also invaluable. “There are so many options for digital advertising, from geo targeting specific regions or countries, to spreading views across time and limiting views to ‘new eyes’ rather than returning visitors. Our knowledge means we can help guide clients through the sometimes confusing range of options, to select those that should produce the best results.”

Once campaigns are agreed and adverts booked, the media team will then compile an artwork schedule containing the specific requirements of each outlets and deadline dates. Izzi then takes on the task of chasing this up, whether the design work is carried out by client’s in-house staff, Saltwater Stone’s design team or an outside agency.

Izzi explains that with large campaigns, this work can take up significant time. For example, in one current client campaign, adverts are being placed in nine different countries, meaning a substantial quantity of artwork to supply.

Once the adverts are complete and with the magazine or website, the next task is to track its inclusion. For both print and digital, this involves time-consuming manual checks. Izzi ensures each magazine ad is checked by the team for inclusion and ongoing digital campaigns are monitored on a weekly basis. “So every digital advert for every client is checked each week to ensure it’s showing.”

Results are then collated to gauge monthly visits,  Click Through Rates (CTR), bounce rates, number of pages seen by each visitor,  geographic data and mobile versus desktop splits, and these are presented as either annual, quarterly or even monthly reports on request.

“With increasing pressure on budgets, I think marketing teams are having to fight their corner to show results, so digital campaigns which produce tangible data are increasingly attractive,” says Izzi. “However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t still a value in print advertising and, in fact, we’ve seen a number of magazines reporting increased circulation in 2019.”