How To Become An Advertising Media Buyer

An Advertising Media Buyer is tasked with purchasing advertising space in various media including newspapers, magazines, radio, television and cinema in order to reach as much of the target audience as possible and all at the lowest cost to the client. To succeed in this role you will need good computer literacy skills, be able to work with close attention to detail and be persistent in your approach. The following article identifies the skills, role, hours, income, education, training and opportunities necessary to consider when landing a position as an Advertising Media Buyer.

Most employers are more interested in your personal qualities than your formal qualifications.

Skills, interests and qualities

A good Advertising Media Buyer has:

  • strong communication skills
  • computer literacy
  • an aptitude for working with a diverse range of people and as part of a team
  • good negotiation and presentation skills
  • an analytical and logical mind
  • strong planning and organisational skills
  • business focus and awareness of budget
  • persistence, drive and stamina

The work

The role is varied and challenging and your main duties would include:

  • keeping abreast of industry research into people’s reading and TV viewing habits
  • working with media planners to define each campaign’s target audience and plan how best to access them through advertising media
  • establishing and building relationships with clients and media sales organisations
  • preparing cost estimates for clients and negotiating the best rates for the most suitable advertising slots
  • managing budgets and keeping the client up to speed on campaign spending
  • monitoring key metrics like audience figures and sales data to gauge a campaign’s effectiveness

You would usually work for several clients simultaneously and in smaller agencies you might be involved in media planning too.


Your usual hours would be Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm but this may vary if you have to meet deadlines, so some flexibility is required.

The majority of your work would be office-based, although you might also have to travel to meet media sales-people and clients.


Starting salary

£18,000 to £22,000 per annum

With experience

£24,000 to £40,000 per annum

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Senior buyer

In excess of £50,000 per annum

Entry requirements

Advertising is a very popular and competitive industry to enter so although many employers will be more interested in your personal qualities, some formal qualifications (BTEC, HND or degree) might give you an advantage.  A qualification in one or more of the following subjects would be useful:

  • advertising
  • marketing
  • operational research or statistics
  • media studies and communication
  • business studies

If you worked for a smaller advertising agency, you would probably start in a more junior administrative position before working your way up as you became more experienced.

Work experience in a relevant environment is always useful, you could try contacting agencies directly to see if they have any placements available. Social networking sites are good places to make useful contacts; furthermore you can find a list of member agencies on the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) website together with more useful information. If you have previous experience in a sales or marketing environment, this would be seen as an advantage.

Training and development

Much of your training will take place on-the-job or through the agency’s graduate training scheme if one is offered.  There are also a number of professional qualifications that you could work towards including:

  • IPA Foundation Certificate
  • IPA Advanced Certificate
  • IPA Excellence Diploma
  • Communication Advertising and Marketing Education Foundation (CAM) Diploma in Marketing Communications  (more information can be found at

You would also need to keep yourself up to speed with relevant industry news and developments and the IPA offers a number of short courses to help you do this.

Job opportunities

Competition for jobs in the advertising industry is fierce but it’s a great career if you can find an opening.

Jobs are widely advertised in the national press and in trade publications together with the IPA website and specialist recruitment agencies. It’s also worth approaching agencies directly as some jobs are not advertised. It’s also possible to specialise in a particular type of media buying or you could progress to management.  Another alternative would be to move into account planning and management or media planning. The following sites all advertise vacancies and contain further useful reading:  (Campaign) (Creative Review) (Marketing Week) (Media Guardian) (Major Players)  (




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