Media Buyers negotiate and purchase media space and airtime on behalf of clients. These purchases are led by the media plans that are developed to best reach a client’s target audience.

Media Buyer

Also known as...

TV Buyer; Out of Home Buyer; Press Buyer; TV Buyer; Out of Home Buyer; Radio Buyer; Digital Buyer; Programmatic Buyer.

The role in brief...

Media Buyers negotiate and purchase media space and airtime on behalf of clients. These purchases are led by the media plans that are developed to best reach a client’s target audience – in the best pace at the best time and within budget. Media Buyers may specialise in a particular channel, such as Press, TV, Out of Home, Radio or digital, and/or work across a variety of channels. In larger agencies, media buying and planning are separate departments, but in some agencies the planning and buying functions are combined in one role.

Working with...

  • Internal: Media Account Director; Media Planners; Insight Executives; Operations Executives, Finance/accounts, New Business; HR/Talent Team.
  • External: Media owners; Client marketing team; Media research organisations, occasionally the Creative Agency.
  • Media Buyers will usually report to a Media Account Manager or Media Account Director with overall responsibility for the client account. Those at senior levels in larger agencies may have management or supervision responsibility for more junior Media Buyers, being accountable for their performance and providing them with professional development opportunities.

Responsible for...

  • Negotiating with media owners to get the best rates, coverage and frequency of exposure for their clients.
  • Working closely with planning teams to ensure that media plans are feasible.
  • Communicating the approved media plan accurately to the client and the creative agency to ensure it is implemented and transmitted effectively, on time and on budget.
  • Keeping track and reporting back on industry developments relevant to their accounts, including the activity of key competitors and new media opportunities.
  • Managing multiple bookings with media owners.
  • Conducting competitive review research for client reports.
  • Preparing costing and spending reports for clients.
  • Monitoring and managing budgets across campaigns.
  • Analysing campaign effectiveness and preparing reports for the team as required.
  • Involved in recruitment and selection decisions.
  • Focused on the personal and professional development of their team.

Those who succeed are...

  • Highly numerate, commercially astute and effective negotiators.
  • Good communicators and able to present to clients and media owners.
  • Organised, with strong attention to detail.
  • Well informed about changes in the media landscape, new media opportunities and media research.
  • Knowledgeable about their client’s business and market, and where and how advertising contributes to success.

Where they come from, and where they go...

Media Buyers often start work as graduates from a wide range of course subjects, although apprenticeships offer another route into the role. A range of degree disciplines may be of interest; psychology, business studies, communications, marketing and management.

Their mathematical aptitude and ability may well be tested as part of the recruitment process. Most new joiners will initially enter a combined Junior Media Planner/Buyer role, before specialising in buying once some experience has been gained. With an interest in working with data and figures and curious about all of the different media channels (AV, radio, cinema, Out of Home and Print and how they are traded they go on to become Senior Media Buyers, Media Managers, Media Directors, Media Account Directors, Head of Trading.

Others may choose to specialise in the buying of particular media; TV, Biddable etc. while some may move to sales and marketing roles, or to media owners.

What is Programmatic Advertising?

Programmatic ad buying uses software to buy digital advertising. The traditional method of buying media included requests for proposals, tenders, quotes and human negotiation. Programmatic buying uses machines and algorithms to inform the purchase of the most relevant and appropriate display space.

This is not the complete automation of the advertising buying process. Traditionally teams would have manually prepared insertion orders or advertising tags, which are labour intensive. With programmatic advertising team have more time to plan, better optimise, target and their advertising.

What is Biddable Media?

Biddable Media refers to any form of media that is bought via real time biding – this definition includes media hosted by third party platforms. These third parties (e.g. demand side platforms) have allowed for a far more agile approach to auction-based media buying, with performance coming to the fore, as advertisers identify and decide where to appear and what cost to reach.

Last updated 21 January 2022