Advertising Media Buyer Careers

How to become an Advertising Media Buyer

What does a Advertising Media Buyer do?

Advertising media buyers also known as advertising media executives, work for advertising agencies as consultants, advising clients as to which media should be used to best advertise a product or service. They then purchase the advertising ‘space’ and ‘time’. Space refers to newspapers, magazines and posters; time refers to radio, television and cinema ads. Buyers aim for the advertisements to be seen and heard by the highest possible number of the target audience at the lowest possible price for the client.

Buyers record transactions and prepare costings for the clients, often working on more than one account at a time. In smaller agencies the roles of planner and buyer are combined (see Advertising Media Planner profile). In larger agencies jobs may be more specialised.

What's the working environment like working as a Advertising Media Buyer?

Working hours are normally 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, but may vary in order to meet deadlines. Some agencies have flexible working hours on the understanding that staff will work late if a job needs finishing.

The work is office based, although some time may be spent visiting clients and media owners.

What does it take to become a Advertising Media Buyer?

To be an advertising media buyer you should:

  • be able to work with a range of people and as part of a team
  • have good written and spoken communication skills
  • have good numerical and statistical skills
  • have a thorough understanding of the media and the business side of advertising
  • be computer literate
  • have stamina and drive, and be able to work under pressure and to deadlines
  • be well organised and capable of careful record keeping
  • be persuasive and tactful, with good negotiating skills
  • be able to make decisions instantly and often under pressure.

Advertising Media Buyer Career Opportunities

Advertising is a very popular career among graduates, and applicants frequently outnumber vacancies. Agencies with a structured graduate recruitment programme are listed in the IPA Factfile (see website listed in Further Information) although the best approach may be to contact agencies directly.

Specialist media agencies have developed in response to the growth of ‘new’ media industries such as cable and digital TV, and the Internet, which may provide further job opportunities.

Career progression is based upon experience and ability. Gaining qualifications, such as those mentioned in the Entry and Training section, is an advantage. Most media staff start as trainees and become established planners or buyers after about a year. Further promotion to senior or director level is based on performance. Head-hunting is very common, as is movement between agencies.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Advertising Media Buyer that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Advertising Association
7th Floor North
Artillery House
11-19 Artillery Row
Tel: 020 7340 1100

Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA)
44 Belgrave Square
Tel: 020 7235 7020

CAM Foundation
Moor Hall
Tel: 01628 427120

Facts and Stats:

  • The Advertising Standards Association received 589 complaints in 1998 against the Irn Bru drinks advert that featured a cow with the caption ''When I''m a burger I want to be washed down by Irn Bru''
  • The first colour advert on TV in 1969 was for Birds Eye peas
  • Salman Rushdie once worked as an advertising copy writer
  • Advertising is not permitted on the Champs Elysées in Paris
  • ''Advertising insults my intelligence'', say 42 per cent of people in the UK, 23 per cent in Ireland and 49 per cent in the USA