The Secret to Timing Your Media Buy

Listening Habits of a Media Buyer
February 17, 2015
March 3, 2015

The Secret to Timing Your Media Buy

A gallon of milk is a gallon of milk. Aside from the few pennies’ difference between competing supermarkets, the daily and weekly prices don’t fluctuate all that much. Knowing you’ll pay more at a convenience store is about the only price variable a savvy milk buyer needs to know.

But the factors impacting the cost of radio advertising time can vary wildly from day to day and month to month. Beyond the daily supply-and-demand of an active marketplace, other factors come into play.

We asked sales managers at some of America’s top stations and radio groups to share their insights so we could buy smarter and avoid making unintended mistakes.

“The best way to get low rates is to run the first two weeks of the month,” advises WRRK/Pittsburgh General Sales Manager, Chris Kohan. “The back half of the month is always sold out,”

KQMT/Denver VP/Sales Joby Koren agrees with Kohan’s beginning-of-month strategy, but suggests that great deals can also be had at month’s end. “Assuming there is inventory available, (stations) are trying to hit a monthly budget forecast.”

Kohan and Koren, among other industry professionals, suggest that the middle of the month is a less-than-optimal bargaining time. And all of the managers we spoke with suggested annual commitments to a radio station, made in the final calendar weeks of a year for the coming year, represented the best way to negotiate low rates, added value and other station bonuses.

“Work with an Account Executive with very specific end results in mind,” says Sara McMurray, General Sales Manager of WTMX in Chicago. “Long term advertisers see the best added value.”

KSTP/Minneapolis Director of Sales, Jeff Gonsalves concurs. “The experience of our Account Managers is our best added value. They know their stations and what resources to use to garner results.”

So while there is consensus among radio professionals on the best times to buy, there are enough exceptions and fluctuating market conditions to suggest asking each individual station for its guidelines. Some hours of the day, days of the week and weeks of the month will be better-priced than others. And unpredictable events (a snowstorm, a stock market correction) can bend rules that might otherwise apply.

We’ve been speaking with quite a few radio station and radio group sales managers to get their take on a variety of issues that will help us all become more effective radio marketers. In the weeks and months ahead, we’ll share the best of their tips with you, here in our Insights posts.