What is the difference between media planning and buying for recruiters?

media planning vs media buying
Posted on 06 February 2024 In Programmatic

Many industries have to continually adapt to new technological innovations, and the world of media planning and buying is no exception. Jobseeker’s expectations have changed too as they navigate an increasingly dynamic market. In the past, media planning and buying for recruitment purposes may have been a simple matter of targeting the classified ads sections of newspapers and trade periodicals. 

Today, job seekers search for work both online and off, and online advertising campaigns are a vital source of candidates for recruitment professionals. Pew Research Center reports that 79% of Americans went online in their most recent job searches, making online media hot property for recruiters. But effective online advertising isn’t just about casting a wide net with no clear direction or strategy.

Once the province of marketers, targeted media planning and buying pinpoints the ideal candidates that recruiters want to attract – that’s why it applies to you as a recruitment professional. Need an inside edge? This article discusses the differences and similarities between media planning and buying and looks at how you can leverage technology to attract the job-seekers your company or clients want to hire. 

What is media planning in recruitment?

Media planners search for the best platforms to advertise vacancies and devise strategies that will attract suitable applicants. There’s no single recipe for success – your media plan depends on the people you’re hoping to find and the roles you’re planning to fill. However, there is a process you can follow to arrive at an effective media plan.

Get to know your market

You can’t create an effective plan unless you know who you want to apply it to. Consider your ideal candidate. What type of person are they? What are their interests? What media do they consume and what aspects of the role you’re advertising might appeal to them? A little market research will give you an idea of where your advertisements will get noticed as well as how to craft them so that they appeal to the right people. 

Set goals

Although it’s great to get impressions and views, the real strategic value comes from completed applications from candidates who have the skills and potential to match the role. For this value to be realized, you need to devise a plan that you’re confident will reach the right people and elicit the desired response.

There’s no cast-in-stone target to set. For instance, if you’re seeking candidates with a very particular set of specialist skills, you might be happy to attract a few dozen applicants when you’d usually expect more when posting a vacancy with wider relevance and appeal.

Time and costs also factor into the equation. Know when you must present a shortlist of candidates to recruiting managers as well as the budget you can use for your advertising campaign. Set your goals to match the quality, quantity, timeframes, and cost limitations you intend to adhere to. 

Create your media plan and collaborate with stakeholders

Now that you have job market intelligence that matches your recruitment goals, you can get down to creating the media plan itself. This includes deciding on the media outlets you plan to use, the format and content of the advertisement, and even the time you’ll choose for publication. Stakeholders must understand the reasoning behind your plan and approve your approach. Their input can also help you to refine it.

Follow up and adjust

Even the best-laid plans need the occasional tweak to make them work. After launching a campaign, media planners must follow up to see how it’s working and how it might be improved. 

With advertising campaigns spanning multiple platforms, technology is necessary to help you monitor your campaign’s progress across all of them. Effective media planning services should offer you the information you need in a ready-to-use format.

What is media buying in recruitment?

The media buyer aims to strategically purchase advertising by negotiating with the platforms that will carry their ads. So, while planners do the preparation, it’s media buyers who carry out the plans and report back on their progress.

The media buyer and media planner’s roles begin to overlap once the advertisements have been placed. Results are evaluated, and plans are adjusted. After all, advertising is an investment and the returns it brings, in this case, applicants who are suitable for the advertised role, are the result you must achieve. 

Print advertising

Print advertising is expensive compared to online advertising, but it still has its uses. The publications you might choose depend on the roles you hope to fill. For example, a trade magazine with strong readership figures should give your job ad good reach across a highly relevant audience. Or, an advertisement in the business pages of a newspaper might attract applications from business executives and investment professionals. Be picky about which publications you choose and where your ad will be placed. For example, do you want ad placement on specific pages and page locations, or will the classified ad section do?

Follow up on the success of your print advertising plan by asking applicants how they became aware of the vacancy. This gives you valuable information about the success of your strategy and helps you to decide whether you want to keep running your print ads.

Online programmatic media buying

Programmatic media buying places ads targeting specific audience characteristics such as their professions, demographics (location may matter here) and interests. Media buyers use a demand-side platform like Broadbean to purchase advertising at a fixed price – and the software will also suggest ways to expand your reach. 

Using a job board aggregator, ads can be placed on dozens – even hundreds – of job boards simultaneously based on predetermined criteria that you captured during the planning phase. This ensures relevance and effective cost management since you’re not expending resources on irrelevant applications. With the right ad to capture jobseekers’ attention and strategic ad placement, attracting a good pool of applicants is almost a certainty.

Nevertheless, monitoring and adjusting your campaign will be fruitful. Your programmatic media buying software should have the capacity to produce meaningful reports that help you to make the necessary tweaks. 

Media planning vs. media buying: What’s the difference?

Media planning and media buying are closely-related fields that overlap when it comes to evaluating campaign results. Media planners decide the strategy that is to be followed and set the goals for the campaign. They also outline which publications and platforms appear to be most relevant to the target audience. 

Media buyers execute the plan, adding their expertise in negotiating online and offline ad placements into the mix. The media buyer liaises with the media planner, offering their suggestions and feedback and adjusting media buying activities as the campaign progresses. 

How can media planners and media buyers work together?

Media planners and media planners make up a team and must work together to execute successful campaigns.

The media planner defines what the advertisement consists of, why certain platforms are preferred, and where and when advertisements should be placed. They also specify the campaign’s budget. The buyer makes it all happen – but their relationship doesn’t end there. 

For example, media planners and buyers refine the original plan after testing the waters, optimizing it to improve its effectiveness so that they can meet or exceed its original goals. This not only relates to the publications and platforms the campaign targets, but also to the content of the advertisements. 

For example, online job-seekers use specific keywords to find the ads that are most relevant to them. If the media buyer reports that responses are poor, the advertising platform itself may not be to blame. Instead, a media planner may find that adjusting the wording of the advertisement could be all that’s needed to get results. 

Together, media planners and buyers work to achieve a common goal: quality hires for their employers or clients. In smaller companies, a single person may be responsible for both tasks. But, with differing skill sets contributing to results, larger organizations often create teams that include specialized media planners, advertising copywriters, and expert media buyers. Their knowledge, experience, and skill plus access to the right tools contribute to the realization of the overarching goal: that one-in-a-million candidate they set out to find at the outset.

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