Media Buyer – Job Description


For the most part, advertising, promotional and marketing activities are determined by the availability of appropriate platforms to reach the ideal target audience.  Print, radio,  broadcast television, cable television, print, outdoor and digital are the essential media platforms through which good and services are publicized and sold.  These various types of media are the primary stomping ground for media buyers.

Essentially, media buyers do just what it they are titled: they buy media space and/or time.  They keep an eye on the media, evaluate the effectiveness of particular platforms and media channels and then make the important  decisions concerning where advertising campaigns are in fact going to be unleashed upon the world.  With the myriad of options in media these days, having the knowledge from a buyer on the most effective medias in a given market is invaluable.

The media buyer is the key element in ensuring that advertising, promotional and marketing campaigns are exposed to the ideal target market in the most effective place available, thereby gaining recognition and new customers for the service or product in question.  The majority of these media professionals are employed by integrated media or advertising agencies.  However, some large companies or organizations with in-house advertising/marketing departments may also have full time media buyers on staff.

Media buyers have a tendency to work alongside a media planner when implementing media-based promotional strategies for their clients.  Working together, they are a force to be reckoned with.  Their symbiotic relationship is so important that very often some individuals even take on both roles simultaneously!  The buyer’s job is to choose the optimum channels that will make the most of the budget and recommendations from the planner.  They must acquire rates and put together a recommended schedule to gain the most effective impressions within the limitations provided.  This involves working directly in a media buying software, or media planning tool to lay out schedules and produce orders for stations/outlets. These tools often help the buyer to negotiate the best possible rates to take back to their client.

Media buyers tend to be multi-taskers and extremely organized individuals by nature.  Not only are they placing buys and negotiating rates, but they must maintain client and vendor relationships as well.  Networking with the medias and establishing relationships with media sales representatives and agencies are often the keys to successful future negotiations.  Media buyers must also be savvy with money, as they are entrusted with a budget, which has to be invested wisely.  This needs to be able to be defended as they often attend meetings with their clients, providing presentations and reporting back to them on the results of the various campaigns.

In order to keep on the ball, media buyers have to keep their eye on the key performance indicators of advertising campaigns.  As an example, they may assess and evaluate data that is related to the circulation and distribution of particular media channels.  Furthermore, they may use web analytics tools to monitor digital campaigns.  They subsequently review the success of the individual campaigns and negotiate with medias in order to produce vital modifications to the previously booked schedules.


There are no set qualifications to become a media buyer, but most entrants have a degree in a relevant topic, such as advertising, marketing, business management or media studies. Creative ability and enthusiasm for media channels are qualities that impress employers.

Training is usually on the job. Some larger advertising agencies may offer structured graduate training programs. Media research organizations frequently run industry specific workshops that can assist buyers to make best use of their data.

There are many individual qualities that make for a successful media buyer:

  • excellent research skills
  • ability to recognize and analyze opportunities
  • negotiating confidence
  • teamwork and interpersonal skills
  • general interest in media and consumer motivation
  • flair for business and commerce
  • logical thinking and common sense applications
  • good written and spoken communication skills
  • general computer knowledge
  • ability to multi-task
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