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Outline of Job

The job of media buyer is to purchase advertisement space in a variety of media forms in order to promote a product or service. This is done on behalf of the client, with the media buyer having to make sure it is targeted at the desired audience, and for a reasonable price. In some agencies this position will be combined with that of a media planner. A media buyer will often have to work on more than one account at the same time.

Daily Activities

  • Work alongside the media planner and other agency members
  • Decide upon the medium to best express the goals of the brand
  • Keeping up to date with the comings and goings of the audience
  • Monitoring the budget and making sure the client is well aware of costs
  • Analysing audience and sales data
  • Negotiating with media organisations for the best prices
  • Building up a contact list of clients and media organisations
  • Booking advert space
  • Keeping an eye on the effectiveness of a campaign

Skills Required

  • Outgoing personality
  • Ability to work as part of a team
  • Excellent written and communication skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Negotiating skills
  • Competent with computers
  • Passion for the industry and commercial awareness
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Able to abide by strict budgets and deadlines
  • Understanding of the media and advertising
  • Organised manner and attention to detail

Expected Earnings & Conditions

The usual starting salary is £18,000 – £26,000, with wages typically higher in London. Those with 3 to 5 years experience can expect to earn around £26,000 – £35,000, and those with 10 to 15 years experience able to become senior buyers, and earn in the region of £50,000 or more. Other benefits may include private healthcare or a pension. Salaries will vary greatly dependent on the agency and its location, as well as individual merits.

The work is mainly office-based, and often involves negotiating with clients and media organisations on the phone. The working day is usually 9 to 5, though you will be expected to stay late if a deadline needs to be met. Working at weekends is rare, though you may need to meet clients during your social time, in order to build and maintain relations.

Consultancy work is possible once a reputation is secured, with freelance work less common. It is a highly competitive market, which can make the job stressful. Most agencies are based in London, where the earnings are generally higher, though many other large cities such as Manchester and Birmingham house several agencies.

Qualifications & Experience Required

The following HND degrees would be beneficial:

  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Business or Management
  • Media Studies
  • Statistics

Though qualifications can be advantageous they will not guarantee a position in advertising. Employers will wish to see evidence of creativity, business sense, commercial awareness, and communication skills. Pre-entry experience in a sales or media environment is desired. This will show you can work as part of a team, and within a high pressure environment. It is best to contact agencies directly for work experience, or you can search the list of agencies offering positions on the IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) website.

You need to be aware of recent events in the industry, as well as its audience. Also, reading industry publications such as Media Week and other trade writings will keep you clued up. Most jobs are not advertised, as with most areas in advertising. Contacting agencies and being persistent is the best way to land a position.

Additional Training & Development

You may have to start out in an administrative role, or possibly, in a graduate placement. After an initial training period and a couple of years experience a media buyer can move up to media manager. Following 3 to 5 years experience, depending on merit, you may be able to move up to media director. Media buyers will usually go on to specialise in one or two media areas, such as television or the internet.

Learner media buyers are usually fully trained after a period of 6 to 12 months. During this period a media buyer will mainly partake in administrative tasks and phoning media organisations, basically learning the essentials of the industry. Their training will continue after this period, learning, and brushing up on IT and presentation methods. Media buyers will need to maintain their knowledge of the media and audience trends.

Some agencies run their own training programmes, though most teaching will be done on the job. There are online courses available from several organisations, including the IPA, CAM (Communication Advertising & Marketing Education Foundation), the Media Research Group, and the Media Circle. Courses include an IPA Foundation Certificate, for those with at least six months experience, and also the IPA Excellence Diploma, for those with at least three years experience.