Media Buying

The University at Buffalo is pleased to announce that Fahlgren Mortine (FM) has been awarded the media buying contract for the university. Securing an exclusive agency contract is part of the operational excellence project University Communications (UC) began in fall 2017, which was supported by the provost and the vice president for finance and administration. The purpose is to create efficiencies in the purchasing and processing of advertising across paid media platforms for units and central procurement offices as it relates to contact review, negotiations and execution. This also decreases the university's risk and increases overall ROI while standardizing processes and procedures to ensure ethical and sustainable business practices, and consistency in institutional branding.

Services Offered

FM is an integrated marketing and communications agency. Their services include media planning, buying, placement, management of assets and, if needed, creative to support the media buys (e.g., copywriting and graphic design).

Media Planning and Strategy Development

This includes strategic and tactical plans (delivered in the form of a brief) based on budget and parameters provided by UB units. Tactics may include a mix of, for example, traditional, digital and social media advertising.

  • A customized media plan created by FM will be specific to your goals, objectives and budget. FM has worked with dozens of organizations, including UB, and has a reputation for being very knowledgeable, responsive and professional. Below are examples of the types of media they have purchased and placed on behalf of their clients. Please keep in mind their experience extends far beyond this short list.
    • National/regional/local news media – print, digital and video ad formats with newspapers, magazines and other news-based media (e.g., The Chronicle of Higher Education, Buffalo Business First, The Buffalo News, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Flipboard, CNN, etc.)
    • Broadcast TV/movie/cable advertising locally and nationally
    • Social media – paid campaigns on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Snapchat
    • Radio – traditional local and national radio stations such as WBFO and NPR; music streaming platforms such as Pandora; podcasts
    • Traditional/digital billboards and out of home – e.g., transit, bus
    • Paid search and display advertising
    • Niche/industry opportunities – e.g., First Bell for Engineering
    • Special promotional/sponsorship opportunities – e.g., NCAA programmatic advertising, agency partnerships
  • Media partner selection, aligned to support identified media placement goals.
  • Recommendation of a media mix, with rationale to support recommendations.

Media Placement Services

  • Collaboration with UB units on content, audience, geographies, budgeting and selection of paid media most likely to meet unit objectives.
  • Negotiations with media partners to increase efficiency via pricing, added value and high-impact placements.
  • Ad tracking to ensure ads are seen by the target audience and that contracted impressions are delivered.
  • Quality control and reliable ad placement. FM utilizes preventative measures to ensure paid media campaigns are not infected with fraudulent traffic that artificially inflate ad metrics. FM’s services ensure valid ad views and engagement as well as quality site traffic with paid ads. In addition, the placement and integrity of ads are guaranteed by FM to ensure they are properly displayed in the purchased media.
  • Assistance in the management of existing UB relationships with paid media outlets and in the development of new relationships.
  • Ongoing and regular status and milestone meetings with units, as needed.

Creative and Copywriting

If needed, these services would include development of ad copy, images and videos. NOTE: Use of creative services is optional and will require an additional charge to the unit. During the initial consult with FM, units should indicate whether they will be developing their own ads or whether FM will develop the ads. FM is available to provide cost estimates for its creative services.


Measurement includes media dashboards, tracking and reporting services. FM will provide units with a dashboard to measure and report upon the effectiveness of their ad campaign, hold meetings to review findings/outcomes, and provide recommendations on whether a campaign should be adjusted mid-stream to achieve objectives.

Contract Addendum: One-Time Purchases

In order to optimize your return on investment (ROI), you ideally should have an annual planning session with FM outlining your goals and objectives for the year, along with a budget allocation. However, we recognize there may be instances when your overall media buy is a minimal amount, requires no planning and must be purchased quickly. The following guidelines provide units flexibility to execute small, one-time media buys.

During a fiscal year, a unit may procure media buys outside of the contract for a one-time purchase on social media of less than $500, applying to:

  • Social media sponsored posts or ads (maximum of five, one-time purchases per year)

Additionally, a unit may—through the course of one fiscal year—procure a cumulative total of less than $2,500 in one-time purchases outside of social media such as,

  • Sponsorship ads in programs, catalogs or other one-time publications
  • Placements in specialized niche publications—such as Social Work Today, BizEd or First Bell—that could include print and digital promotions
  • Small placements in local newspapers

Although your annual strategic planning with Fahlgren should ultimately capture tactics like social media sponsored posts and ads, as well as placements in various niche publications, we recognize there are opportunities that present themselves during the year that may not have been included in the overall plan.

Digital display advertising* and paid search programs cannot be purchased outside of the contract regardless of amount. When running digital campaigns of this nature, particularly through search engines, it is imperative that the timing, context and the details of these buys are coordinated university-wide to avoid instances where units unknowingly drive up costs as a result of the way these placements are purchased and viewed. Furthermore, FM has personal representatives with a variety of paid media outlets, including Google and Facebook, that allow them to facilitate advertising programs more effectively and communicate directly if a problem arises with spend, ad appearance and/or fraudulent traffic, among other potential issues. Individual users running digital advertising programs through major platforms, such as Google and Facebook, would not have access to this level of customer service.

*For the purposes of this addendum, a “digital display ad” refers to an online form of advertising which commonly includes banner ads that appear on various websites. This type of advertising can be purchased on a large scale through third-party vendors, such as Google, or directly from the website itself.

Executing a one-time purchase

If your media buy meets the above criteria, and you would like to qualify to complete your media buy outside of the universitywide media buying contract using a procurement card (PCard), follow the process outlined below. Please note that even if your media buy meets the above criteria, you may still use the contract.

Please follow the process below to evaluate whether or not your media buy qualifies for purchase outside of the contract using a PCard:

  1. The media brief must be filled out and submitted (as per current process).
  2. UC will review each brief on a case-by-case basis.
  3. UC will advise in writing, within two business days, whether your ad purchase qualifies for purchase outside of the contract through the use of a PCard. UC will notify UB’s procurement office of this decision to ensure efficiency.
  4. You are responsible for documenting business purpose and price reasonableness for each outside-of-contract purchase. In addition, a copy of the approval from UC should be kept with the PCard order for audit review.

Note: Looking at your budget holistically and planning for the fiscal year provides the most benefit (and ROI) for your unit. University Communications will therefore evaluate the process delineated in this addendum periodically to ensure the benefits of a universitywide contract are maximized. Your feedback on this process is welcome.