Broadcast Buying Guidelines

October 1, 2004

Broadcast buying guidelines should be developed based upon individual client needs and should be re-visited for each buy. Following are general guidelines that will serve as a baseline to be expanded as necessary when considering client needs.

Buying guidelines provide all the details necessary for broadcast buyers to properly execute the strategic media plan. Guidelines typically anticipate all questions and issues that may confront a buyer in the course of negotiating the buy. They stipulate the planner's (and client's) expectations for tactical execution. Guidelines also identify the metrics for Post-Buy measurement.

Guidelines serve three main purposes:

1. Establish Buying Parameters - Budgets, TRP's, Dayparts, Dates, etc.
2. Identify Alternate Strategies - Buy to budget or buy to goal, etc.
3. Create Procedures - Administering, Monitoring and Reporting Buys.

Following are the kinds of elements that should be included in virtually all Broadcast Buying Guideline documents.

  • Budget and TRP Goals by Medium, by Daypart. Acceptable percent U.S. coverage for national syndication.
  • Goals by commitment type i.e. upfront, scatter, opportunistic
  • Programming guidelines such as acceptable/unacceptable programming or time periods
  • Allowable budget shifts between dayparts
  • Buy to TRP goal within budget or buy to budget
  • Confidentiality policy, if there is one
  • Makegood policy i.e. makegoods must run in flight, in quarter, equal or higher rated programming, etc.
  • Required Post-Buy reports by format
  • Due dates for Post-Buy reports
  • Acceptable audience delivery levels typically +/- 10% of estimates

In addition, for local buys, guidelines should include direction for budget shifts between markets. And, radio guidelines should incorporate desirable/undesirable formats or personalities.

Since every client is unique, it is impossible to say unequivocally that this list is complete for the ANA member in question. However, this should provide virtually all of the information necessary to create a guidelines document that will satisfy media goals. As noted, after each buy the guidelines should be re-visited and refined until a complete and satisfactory template has been created.


Prepared for the ANA Marketing Insights Center by Allen Linderman, President, Linderman Media Group, and ANA training instructor, Media Strategy. October 2004.