Top Free Online Resources for Local Media Buying

Top Free Online Resources for Local Media Buying

Free tools to help find traditional media vendors and place your local media schedules.

Once you have completed the media planning process and have identified which mediums will achieve your goals and objectives, it is time to place your local media campaign.  

If you are still in the planning process, check out our top free planning resources.

Especially if you are advertising in a market for the first time, it may seem a bit overwhelming to find media vendors and contact information.  This does not need to be a daunting task.

Here are some of our top free online resources to help start the local media buying process:


If you plan to include television in your local media campaign, the Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB) is a good place to start.  The “Markets and Stations” section of their website will provide some key market information, like overall DMA rank, ethnic DMA rank and cable penetration, in addition to a list of stations and affiliations.

Cable penetration is the percentage of households in the DMA that subscribe to wired cable. The ADS (Alternative Delivery Systems) figure represents the percentage of households that have satellite service.  This is important for local advertisers that consider advertising on cable.  Your cable schedule will only reach those that subscribe to a wired cable service.

television buying

Radio Locator will help you find stations that cover your target geography, with a link to their website and additional station information.

Media buyers often use this website to pull a coverage map and to find the city of license.  Radio listenership is contingent on the strength of a station’s signal and the placement of the tower.  If you are purchasing radio in a large metro area, you will find that certain stations will have a stronger reach in different parts of the metro.

Knowing the city or county of license is more important if you are trying to cover an outlying area or surrounding county.  For example, if you were trying to place a schedule to cover Frankfort, KY (which is approx. 25 miles from Lexington), you will have less waste if you purchase a station licensed in Franklin county (Frankfort) versus a station licensed to Fayette county (Lexington).  A station serving the metro area will be more expensive and generate waste.

Radio buying

Out of Home

“Out of Home” is a pretty general medium and can include outdoor billboards/posters, cinema, transit and malls, just to name a few.  It can be overwhelming to know what is available in your market and which vendor owns specific inventory.

While we do not endorse specific vendors on our blog, DoMedia can be a helpful resource.  This tool will allow you to search for all types of “out of home” media options and send RFPs directly from the site.

Keep in mind, not all companies will be included in the list, so you may want to also reach out to any major outdoor companies that serve your market, such as CBS Outdoor, Clear Channel Outdoor or Lamar Advertising.

Out of home buying


If you are advertising in a large metro, you may just need a basic Google search to find the major daily newspaper in the market.  You can also use a resource called ipl2 for a listing of publications including alternative weeklies and business publications in addition to local daily or weekly newspapers.

However, if you are trying to reach smaller communities with your print campaign, your local press association may be a good place to start. Here is a link to the press associations listings by state.

Your local press association website will usually have a directory of daily and weekly publications around the state, including basic information such as circulation, publication days, standard dimensions and contact information.  You can also reach out to a rep at the press association for additional information.

Here is an example of a newspaper directory from the Kentucky Press Association:

Print Buying

Hopefully these resources will provide the initial information you need to begin the buying process.

What other online tools do you use to find local media options?

Shelby Nichols

About Shelby Nichols

Shelby is Director of Digital Media at Sheehy, a regional advertising, marketing and media agency. With close to 15 years in the industry she has planned and purchased a wide range of media and has a passion for all things digital.

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