Media Buyer

Help advertisers secure air time or advertising space in online and offline media platforms
Ivy Simon
Editorial Writer
Help advertisers secure air time or advertising space in online and offline media platforms

In order to run advertising campaigns, an advertiser must first be able to secure broadcast time or media space for the ads themselves. This task is often easier said than done, given the wide variety of media platforms available and the fact that you must negotiate price and availability with their owners. This is where the work of a media buyer comes in.

Media buyers are responsible for sourcing, negotiating, and procuring advertisement space. This was once focused on traditional platforms like newspapers, magazines, billboards, or TV and radio channels; but now includes digital advertising, paid search engine and social media ads, as well as influencer marketing.    

Media buyers typically work closely with media strategists or account planners to make the best buying decisions. A planner will recommend desired media channels and time slots based on the client’s marketing objectives, and the media buyer will then negotiate the best rates with the channel owners and secure the slots.  

Vacancies for media buying jobs are most commonly found within advertising or marketing agencies. However, some large companies who engage in frequent consumer marketing may hire media buyers themselves in order to keep things in-house. 

Life on the job

There are no hard requirements for graduates looking to get into media buying roles. What’s most important is being able to demonstrate a good understanding of how advertising and marketing works, as well as great interpersonal skills. 

As a media buyer, your primary role is to source potential advertising platforms, maintain good relationships with their owners or sales staff, and negotiate the best price, quality, and placement of advertisements. You will also need to manage ongoing media bookings, identify and recommend ideal airtime slots, and ensure that any ads which air comply with local laws and regulations. 

With media buying work now increasingly shifting online, media buyers must now handle bookings for online advertising as well. This includes tasks such as setting up pay-per-click search engine advertising campaigns, negotiating with influencers or key opinion leaders (KOLs) for airtime on their platforms, or identifying and screening websites relevant to the client’s target audience and booking ads on such sites.

Fresh graduates will start off as junior media buyers, usually under the supervision of a dedicated business or marketing division head. Early on, you may just be asked to establish contact with media owners that the agency already has a working relationship with. But as you gain more experience, you will be tasked with sourcing new media platforms yourself, as well as recommending new platforms to pursue based on market trends and popularity. 

Career progression for media buying roles can be very open-ended. This is a line of work where you will build a huge professional network, gain a deep understanding of advertising/marketing trends, and gain lots of transferable skills. You could choose to specialise in a specific niche of media buying, move laterally into media strategy and planning, or branch out into other marketing or advertising roles later on.

Required skills

It should do without saying that strong interpersonal and communication skills are crucial for this job. This role is all about managing relationships and negotiating with others, after all!

Good planning and organising skills are also important, as media buyers often manage media bookings for multiple client accounts simultaneously – and some may even compete for the same spots! You must be able to effectively pipeline tasks and booking slots to ensure everything proceeds on schedule and that there are no booking conflicts. 

Good time management skills and being able to work well under pressure are key too. You will constantly be racing against deadlines for ad campaign rollouts, or may have to make on-the-spot decisions if booking schedules or availability change.   

Lastly, attention to detail and strong numeracy skills are necessary. You will need to ensure that all bookings stay within clients’ allocated budgets, keep an eye on the timing and duration of multiple media bookings, as well as keep up to date on local laws and regulations regarding public advertising.