What is the role of a media buyer, planner or sales professional within advertising?

If you pursue a career in media buying, media planning or media sales, you’ll be expected to have your finger firmly on the pulse of all things to do with the media. Your stomping ground will be the advertising spaces we find on TV, billboards, the web, radio, newspapers, directories and magazines.

Media buyers, planners and sales professionals play an important role within the large teams that work at integrated advertising agencies. As a media buyer, you’ll need a good understanding of how the media sales team and media planners work, and vice versa. You’ll need to be an absolute superstar that can juggle budgets, work to tight deadlines and plan ahead.

As well as being commercially aware and media-savvy, it takes a certain type of individual to make the cut – you’ve basically got to know your stuff, stay ahead of the media game and have the stamina and drive to work well in a dynamic team.

What does it mean to be a media buyer?

Essentially, media buyers buy advertising space for their various clients. The companies that employ their services put this lot in charge of their advertising budgets. The buyers then liaise with different publications, websites, TV channels and radio stations. They have a discussion with them, finalise a price and decide on a location for the advert. They need to make sure they pick the right media channels, so that they can target the right people, in the right numbers, at the right time. They also need to get a good price and spend as little money as possible, making sure that the advertising budget stretches as far as it can.

Exceptional communication skills are an absolute ‘must have’, as you’ll be in day-to-day contact with your clients. A major requirement in this career is to keep in touch with what’s considered ‘hot’ and relevant for them. After all, there’s no point in buying media space in an area completely alien to the target audience, so you’ll need to keep your beady eyes on industry developments and the amount of people that have clicked on your web adverts.

As a buyer, you might be checking out the TV ratings or using web analytics tools – it goes without saying that if a certain website or TV channel yields good results, then it’s probably a good idea to use them again when it comes to the next campaign.

What does it mean to be a media planner?

Media planners have a slightly different role. These big organisers put together strategies and make the big decisions about what advertising channels are selected. They plan out more complex tactics for targeting the right audience. For instance, some brands might be better suited to purely web-based advertising (e.g. banner ads and viral campaigns), whereas others might only be perfect for children’s TV shows. This crowd tends to be involved when a new campaign is actually being formulated. Their expertise is integral to choosing what types of advert are produced and where they are going to be exhibited to the public.

So, if you want to buy into the world of media buying, you’ve got big plans for a career in media planning, or think you could sail into the sales side of things, there might just be a marketing role in this field for you.

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