The Good And Bad News About Media Buying


Good afternoon, everyone! 

It’s 2:23pm on Friday 8th November. I’m Dan Wardrope, and I have some BREAKING NEWS. 

The Tyranny of Media Buying Has Fallen. The Old Skills Are Dead. The New Ways Are Rising. 

Depending on whether you’re a hardcore media buyer or not, this could be bad or good news. 

I’m writing this post on the assumption that it’s FANTASTIC news for most of y’all. 

But, as with most things, I’m guessing a small percentage of you are staring at the screen wondering what the hell media buying is. 

It’s okay – I have time. I’ll tell you. 

What Is Media Buying? 

Back in the day (I’m talking the 1350s), medicine was considered an ART. 

Got a cold? Dance around a mulberry bush three times and say a couple of Hail Marys. 

Infected with the plague? Gonna have to consult your star chart for that one. 

But over time medicine was considered less of an Art (thank Jesus), and more of a Science. Dissection became legal in the UK thanks to 1752s Murder Act, so these doctors could stop blaming witchcraft, and actually learn what was going on underneath the surface (i.e. the skin). 


And it’s the same with advertising. Years and years ago, advertising was seen as an Art. 

  • It was about brilliant writing 
  • It was about creating images that stick in the mind 
  • It was about knowing your audience as people, not as demographics or numbers 

But as advertising became more and more competitive, some hot-shots started to wonder how they could get ahead. 

  • There were more products and services than ever 
  • There were more advertising platforms than ever 
  • People were still coming out with great ideas every day 

So they stopped treating advertising as an Art and started looking underneath the surface. 

They soon realised that ads got better conversion rates depending on things such as: 

  • Time 
  • Place 
  • Context 
  • Frequency 
  • Devices 

Easy as this sounds, it actually required a lot of work. Marketers started focusing on data more than the creative process. 

Once they’d got their heads around the data, they started developing an advertising strategy. And they were crushing it. 

The ads they churned out weren’t even that good (for the most part). As long as they delivered the ads neatly to their audience at the right time, in the right place, they’d reap the rewards. 

They would buy all possible placements on all possible platforms, ready and waiting for the timeslot most convenient for them to place the ad. 


Then Things Started To Change 

(Unsurprisingly, ‘cus that’s what things do) 


As technology improved, so did the Artificial Intelligence and algorithms that went along with it. 

Suddenly, those who weren’t au fait with the science of advertising (because that’s what it had become) found themselves able to compete with the big boys. 

See, as Facebook and Google’s AIs grow more efficient at media buying, bid management, and so on, the hours of strategy planning and execution are no longer an advantage. 

Those who’ve spent the last 10 or 15 years perfecting their media buying strategies will argue that humans will beat (the still developing) AIs every single time. 

To those who never really got into media buying in the first place, they’ve found the opposite to be true. They can now put less effort into tedious tasks and still get a higher ROI. 

In a way, this is all the media buyers’ fault. Spent long enough doing something, and you can guarantee someone will teach a computer how to do it. 

This is evidenced by Facebook’s gradual shift towards Campaign Budget Optimisation. Once Facebook finally makes CBO mandatory, AI will be in control of budgets, bids, ad placement, audiences and ad testing.  


What Artificial Intelligence CAN’T Do 

(…For now, anyway).  

Though Facebook and Google keep attempting to make strides in the field, Artificial Intelligence cannot compare with humans when it comes to creativity. 

Over the last ten years or so, curious data scientists have attempted to write books, screenplays and poems using only AI. And the results have been… amusing. 

One such scientist was Ross Goodwin, who used AI to emulate American novelist Jack Kerouac. The result was “1 the Road”, the first-ever novel written entirely by Artificial Intelligence. 

It begins: 

And it continues:

“The table is black to be seen, the bus crossed in a corner. A military apple breaks in. Part of a white line of stairs and a street light was standing in the street, and it was a deep parking lot.” 

“Written” in 2017, the book is a painful read; it is, Goodwin notes:

“… not quite at human level. More like an insect’s brain that’s learned to write”.

And the AI-written science fiction screenplay produced in 2018 didn’t do much better. 

Bottom line: While AI can be trusted with number-crunching, schedules, dayparting, and the rest, it won’t be taking over creative jobs any time soon. 

Even Facebook’s attempt at AI creative doesn’t take bread from the mouths of copywriters and designers. Its Dynamic Creative tool is useful, but it’s just taking pieces of creative and re-assembling them into new variants. 

For agency owners, this is your chance to get ahead. The creative is now the primary driver of marketing performance. 

I’ve written more about this in my post: Just Accept It Now: The Creative Is King, which delves deeper into copywriting techniques such as hooks, headlines, and connecting with your audience. 


Watch The Video To Learn: 

  • Why pivot tables, dayparting and device segmentation are things of the past 
  • How AI takes a load off Pay Per Lead agency owners 
  • How tiered traffic on Facebook and Google can affect ad performance 
  • Why the creative has emerged as the new “king” of advertising 


Free Training

Flexx Digital is a PPC agency that uses the Pay Per Lead model – no retainer contracts. 

If you want to find out more about this Pay Per Lead model, and how we run the business, check out my free case study.

Inside you’ll find how I:

  • Severed ties with retainer contracts once and for all
  • Moved away from local businesses
  • Started working with national B2C companies
  • Land high-ticket clients
  • Found the verticals we work in
  • Consistently generate leads of the highest quality

Click below to watch it now:


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