Traditional media is still a smart place to invest your advertising dollars. While it doesn’t come cheap, it leads to big results. Knowing that you want to get the biggest return on your investment, we have assembled this 2018 Media Buying Guide to help.

Many factors will influence media buying strategies this year. And we’re not just talking about the internet. Politics, rating methods and new technologies will all play a part in shaping 2018’s best practices.

Political Problems

While 2018 is not a presidential election year, politics will still play a huge role in media availability and pricing in the coming months. In many states, there are House and Senate seats open, along with seats in local government. This spending will affect what you can buy and how much it will cost you.

Legally, television stations must offer the lowest cost-per-unit to political advertisers. If you have secured a media buy that is less than the station’s lowest cost-per-unit, it means your spot will get the boot to make room for the politician’s ad. This is where your relationship with station managers comes into play. Making sure that your media buys don’t go below the lowest cost-per-unit is something you should bring up when you’re making your buys.

Read more: 2018 Media Advice: Buy Now Before Prices Hike

TV and Digital Marketing – Friends or Foes?

Everyone has a smartphone these days, so wouldn’t it make sense to channel your ad money into digital advertising instead of television? As it turns out, not yet.

Television is ubiquitous in American homes, with each person watching an average of 4 or more hours per day. Granted, many have a phone or tablet in their hand while watching. But this actually helps your advertising strategy instead of hurting it.

Studies have shown that seeing television ads can drive up branded search by as much as 80 percent by consumers. If your commercial piques their interest, they don’t have to wait until the next time they’re near your dealership to get information. The course of action is much easier and involves only a few words typed in a search engine.

Television gets shoppers into the sales funnel, while digital accompanies them all the way to the sale.

Our buying strategy targets consumers ages 25–64 since these ages have the income to allow for car purchasing. Since consumers ages 35 and over still regularly watch live television programing, we find that TV advertising is still a very effective way of reaching this audience. Most of our buying strategy focuses on news programs, as these are still watched live.

Read more: How Broadcast Impacts Your Digital Marketing

Should Your TV Station Be Your Ad Agency?

Recently, television stations have begun offering services that were formerly only available from full-service ad agencies. You may have heard your station offering social media marketing, search engine optimization and a slew of other tactics outside the realm of traditional television.

While it can be easy to say yes to adding on new services from a media rep that you like, proceed with caution. When you use a TV station as your advertising agency, you are foregoing the experience and quality you’ll get from a standard advertising agency.

Stations are more likely to make decisions that benefit themselves, whereas advertising agencies make data-driven decisions that benefit the client. Ad agencies also have proven track records with digital and traditional advertising, and that’s what they do all day, every day. Many television stations have just recently taken on additional advertising services in an effort to make up for lost TV ad revenue.

New Developments in Tracking Ratings and Viewership

If you’re not making decisions based on data, you’re missing out on the most effective way to spend your money. In 2018, the largest provider of television ratings, Nielsen, is doing away with diary-based rating systems. Instead, the company will begin analyzing information from cable and satellite set top boxes, along with already-established meters and people meters.

This new era of digitally-procured data is a gold mine for media buyers. But that’s one of the problems – it has to be mined. It’s not a pickaxe that the industry needs, but effective data mining methods. Already, companies like Nielsen and comScore have begun taking the valuable information in people’s set top boxes and matching it with demographic information. Refining these techniques and learning the best ways to use this data will provide for more accurate ratings and feedback on which channels and programs will give you the most exposure to your target audience.

Read more: Nielsen vs. comScore – Competition in Media Measurement

Television Still Beats Streaming

There’s no denying that streaming services like Netflix and Hulu will only continue to grow. But right now, those with car-buying capital still watch traditional television. As the younger generations’ buying power grows, strategies will certainly change.

With that in mind, we recommend channeling money into over-the-top (OTT) streaming services only if you have the extra budget to do so. If you take away from your traditional television budget, you will likely see the effects in your digital traffic and in your sales.

Read more: What Happens When a Dealership Turns Off Their TV Advertising?

Buckle Up

The landscape of traditional media may be quickly changing, but there are plenty of strategies you can use to stay ahead of the game. Keep these tactics in mind, and your traffic and sales will continue to benefit from television.

For more marketing advice and guides, check out our articles on Next Day Traffic.