Career Spotlight: Media Buyer

Tablet, coffee, paperwork and glasses sitting on a wooden table

When we see a commercial on TV, or listen to one on the radio, we don’t often think of the planning and research that went into the ad appearing on that channel at that time. Media buyers coordinate how advertisements end up on many kinds of mediums, from TV and radio to the digital market. Operating in the fast-paced advertising industry, media buyers research, identify and then purchase advertising space on multiple mediums to showcase their client’s products or services.

Advertising sales in the U.S. are expected to grow to an astounding $207 billion by the end of 2018, an all-time high. As the amount spent on advertising increases, the necessity for having talented media buyers on staff grows.

What is a Media Buyer?

In the increasingly competitive advertising industry, media buyers have an important role to play. They introduce us to products and services we might want or not realize that we need. Advertisements that fail to reach a target audience can lead to the failure of a product.

Media buyers often accomplish three tasks in every assignment, and each is crucial in the process of putting together a successful advertising campaign. These steps are:

1. Conduct Market Research

Buyers evaluate the target audience for a specific product.

Researching the target market and the best way to find them is arguably the most important point in the process. Market research ensures buyers there is a target audience for a product or service, and it provides a define avenue on where to reach the audience. In today’s age of digital advertising, it’s even easier to find out a consumer’s user habits and preferences using data gathered by sites such as Google or Facebook. Targeted advertisements online have the chance to reach an even bigger percentage of an intended audience. In order to create targeted ads, media buyers should be well-versed in cutting-edge software such as Strata or BluHorn, platforms that help buyers organize tasks, pricing and more.

2. Plan media Buying Strategy

Either on their own or with a media planner, buyers determine the best method of getting ads to potential consumers.

Once the research for a client has been completed, media buyers move on to creating a plan on how to best implement an advertising campaign. Buyers compile the data acquired in the research phase and begin to draft options on where they’re going to buy ads and at what price limits. Clients could dictate whether they want a campaign solely online or mixed between digital and television or radio, for example. Buyers would also take advantage of market ratings numbers at this phase to determine the best way to reach the target audience.

3. Negotiate with Sales Agents

Lastly, the buyer must execute the plan.

In some cases, that means negotiating with sales agents at media companies for ad space, and in others, it means presenting the plan to a senior media buyer or someone in a position to negotiate for advertising purchases. Ultimately, the plan should consider budget, the best medium to reach the target market and a way to track the results to ensure they’re on target.

What to Expect as a Media Buyer

The average day in the life of a buyer will usually include conducting research, analyzing data, creating reports and following up on ongoing work. According to one assistant media buyer, mornings are spent doing market research and the early afternoon is for compiling a strategic plan before closing out the work day with daily management of current implemented projects. In addition, some media buyers’ average days include negotiations with media companies, calling potential clients and speaking with current clients. If buyers work with a media planner, the two will work together to accomplish the main goals of planning and developing a strategy for a campaign.

Buyers work in a highly competitive environment and are compensated well for their work. Payscale has reported the median annual salary of a media buyer is $46,020, and some at the upper end earn north of $60,000 per year. Over time, buyers can receive a promotion to become a senior media buyer or media supervisor, which can earn between $10,000 and $20,000 more per year. Looking farther up the ladder after many years of experience, buyers can potentially become advertising managers, which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported earn nearly $130,000 per year in annual income.

With billions spent every year in advertising, the media real estate is a lucrative market where you can’t afford to miss out.

Alvernia University offers an online BA in communications. Balance education and a busy life through Alvernia University’s flexible online programs. Develop skills needed to succeed as a professional and learn from knowledgeable faculty in small class sizes.