Career Guide

Media Buyer

Ben Maples  · Sep 23rd 2020

Would you like to work in advertising and be fascinated by all things media?

A small team working in an office

The media buyer role is essential for advertisers, campaigns and big brands. It focuses on ensuring ads reach specified audiences across a variety of platforms. If you love various forms of media and are considering a role in advertising, find out more about this career in our guide below.

Media Buyer Career Guide

What is media buying?

Media buyers negotiate, purchase and manage advertising space for clients. They have an essential role within the advertising department and work on promotional campaigns that target specific audiences. Media buyer jobs need to find the most suitable ad space and negotiate that at the lowest cost possible. According to the media buying definition, the role features across many industries and media, from film, TV and radio to print, social media and online. It’s common for the position to be based within agencies or consultancies, and the media buyer job description explains that you’ll likely work with more than one client at a time.

What does a media buyer do?

A job profile in media buying will keep up to date with industry research and follow distribution figures for magazines and newspapers as well as audience figures for radio and TV. They’ll identify the target audience for a campaign, plan the best way to communicate with those people and negotiate the cost with media sales companies for that space. Monitoring strategies, liaising with clients, and communicating with media sales executives are everyday tasks.

Much like careers in marketing, they’ll work with the planning team to prepare and create campaigns and get these approved by the client. They’ll book spots - either pages, internet banners, posters, broadcast adverts and ensure they run accurately, so the right message is visible and heard by the audience.

Also, they may attend meetings, report on campaign strategies, present results and manage budgets, including preparing financial information for their accounts and showing updates on costs throughout the advertising campaign or advert. Careers in media will also research developments, source new opportunities and monitor the client’s competitors’ advertising. They’ll need to stay up to date with trends, analyse sales and the effectiveness of the promotion.

Some independents offer jobs to graduates after they finish their degree, others choose to recruit via services from specialist agencies.

What skills are useful for media buyers?

Firstly, communication, numerical, research and presentation skills are crucial for the role. From talking with clients, media sales personnel and other members of the team to reporting on findings and the ad campaign itself. Analytical skills are essential to improve and evaluate exiting and future campaigns.

Excellent written, teamwork and organisational skills are expected for this position, as you may be working with more than one client at a time, and the operation needs to run smoothly. Media buyers need to be able to work alone and as part of a multidisciplinary team. Negotiation and persuasive skills are also vital for the job, for when you are buying advertising space from other media sales departments. IT, problem-solving and commercial awareness is beneficial for the role.

You’ll need a decent knowledge of media, how they work and interact with the audience and ooze with creativity to be able to plan campaigns. Media buyers should have the ability to work under pressure, make decisions quickly, perform with accuracy all while meeting deadlines. Being good with numbers and budgets is critical as you’ll need to negotiate costs and stick within your financial restrictions.

Media Buyer Career

How to become a media buyer

What can you do with a media studies degree? Well, essentially, the media buying job is perfect for media degree graduates. If you’re interested in this career, then a media studies degree, marketing or communication courses are useful to employers. What do you learn in media studies? The subject delves into various forms of media, from radio and TV to film and newspapers.

It looks at the art of communication and how all the different platforms convey messages to particular audiences. What is media studies in a nutshell? It’s analysing media to understand how and why messages are transmitted to targeted groups of people. Whether it’s an advert on the London Underground or a 10-second radio ad during rush hour, they all need to reach and relate to their target audience.

Adverts may try to be selling a product, raise awareness about a brand, inform people of vital services or offer entertainment. Also, studying advertising, business, English, management, marketing, statistics, psychology, or research are relevant to the profession and can increase your chances of getting a job.

You can enter this profession without an HND or degree, but you’d need relevant experience and be able to show you have the skills required for the role. You may instead work at a local radio station, or within a newspaper's marketing department and look for your next career move.

Some individuals take on a junior role within a consultancy or agency and work their way up the chain after obtaining valuable experience. In most instances, postgraduate degrees are not essential to this sector, but if you want to specialise or learn other skills, it’s not detrimental to your job search.

Where to find work experience for media buyers?

Suppose you want to ensure your CV stands out from the crowd, then you should try to have some work experience under your belt. Whether it’s a work placement, or an internship during your time away from studying or even working unpaid or voluntary basis, it’s all relevant.

Media buyers negotiate, purchase and manage advertising space for clients.

Look for opportunities within marketing, advertising and communications, as all three areas provide necessary skills for this career. Another option is to approach agencies themselves and ask if they offer work experience vacancies or if you can shadow a media buyer within the team. Sales experience is useful - this is different from retail - where you’re negotiating and persuading people to purchase things.

What is it like working as a media buyer?

Most media buyers are based in the office and spend a large amount of time talking with media sales representatives on the phone, visiting clients and attending meetings. A lot of advertising agencies are in cities and large urban areas, so London, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Manchester are great examples. There will be agencies based outside of these areas, but you won't find them in rural towns or the countryside. It’s uncommon for media buyers to work freelance, but instead, they progress into consultancy work when they’ve reached a high level of experience and knowledge.

What is the average salary for this job in media careers?

Similarly to a job in marketing, media buyers earn a starter wage of around £18,000 to £25,000. After three to five years in the profession, they can earn between £26,000 and £35,000. If you are promoted to a senior buyer or media director within media buying agencies, you can more than £50,000.

Earnings vary between employer and location, so people working in London tend to earn more than a large town in a home county. Individuals who are looking for a salary increase can move to a more central agency or transfer over to sales, which often offer commission alongside a base salary. Media buyer salaries may also benefit from other things, like gym memberships, health care, a pension scheme and bonuses.

Media Buyer

What jobs can you get with a film and media degree?

As we have established, the media buyer career is perfect for graduates of these subjects. What jobs are there in the media? This depends on what you want to specialise in, as media covers a range of mediums from TV and film to radio and print. But if you enjoy the advertising aspect, then joining a media buying agency is an ideal start. There are also various specialisms within this field, like other jobs within media, including buying, planning and research, and some agencies offer the entire package.

What does a media agency do? Traditionally they will either specialise in one of the areas above or provide a full-service to several - or hundreds - of clients. Agencies need to maintain their relationships with clients, or they may look for the service elsewhere. If you’re on the lookout for jobs, try advertising, new media and full-service marketing agencies.

It’s essential to establish whether you want to specialise in particular forms of media, like the internet, film, digital media or radio, as an example. If the internet, text messaging, social media and digital media are fascinating to you, then apply for positions in new media agencies. There are wonderful opportunities available as it’s an ever-growing area of the sector.

If you’re interested in this career, then a media studies degree, marketing or communication courses are useful to employers.

Some independents offer jobs to graduates after they finish their degree, others choose to recruit via services from specialist agencies. If your job search isn’t successful, then you can contact the recruitment agencies to get added to their candidate list. Before applying for a role, you should research the employer, the role, and their specialism beforehand, to understand the position entirely and how well you’d fit in with the company.

What are the prospects of a media buyer?

It’s a fast-moving and ever-growing profession, especially with the advancements of technology and our dependence on social media. Career progression tends to follow skills, experience and performance factors. Most individuals join a junior media planner or buyer role before specialising as a media buyer at a media-independent or agency.

After gaining experience across a variety of media, you may also specialise in particular areas of the job or platforms, like radio, TV, or social media. Candidates can progress to a senior media buyer role and after experience in this position can transfer to the media account director job. It tends to bring more supervisory, management and account responsibilities, and you may lead a team of media buyers. There are also opportunities to work as the head of the department.

If you want to progress, you can move to bigger and more prominent agencies or choose to work as a consultant after obtaining a considerable amount of experience and knowledge. A lot of individuals get headhunted in this industry, so ensure your social media and professional profiles are up to date, and you’re showcasing your achievements and skills. Other media buyers may choose to transfer into marketing or sales roles after some time, as the skills are useful in all three areas.

undergraduate Uni's

Get your questions answered by sending them an enquiry now.