A media buyer is responsible for the placements and the negotiation of price for all advertisements on radio, television, print and digital. Digitally, they are responsible for the ad placements for your favorite sites. Media buyers also have to ensure all media inventory (times, days, lengths and sizes of placements) is purchased within budget, which is why negotiation is so important in this field. The primary goal is to ensure the advertisements are seen by the most people possible for that target audience within budget. Here are five steps to accomplish that goal.

1. The Media Plan

Obtain a media plan from the planner that details the best placements to reach the targeted audience. It should include a budget (typically provided by the client).

The media buy should always list detailed information of placements, prices, delivery goals and final budget. If it is a previous client, obtain the old media buy and use it as a measure of reference to get lower prices during negotiations. If this is a new client you will have to start from scratch.

2. The Pricing

Contact media representatives, establish rapport, purchase the advertisements and negotiate the prices for buy.

Introduce yourself to the representative and ask for inventory (ad placement) prices for programming or if digital, the cost of the ad sizes. Example, for digital, a 300X250 placement tends to be the most popular ad for clicks which equals to views. It is important to establish rapport with the media representatives as in the market everyone tends to know each other.

3. The Negotiation

Tell the media representative how much you would like to pay for each spot and the trick is to start off lower to hopefully save the client money. Always ask for added value (free advertising)

4. The Tracking

Input your media buy in operating system or Excel sheet. Larger agencies utilize an operating system such as Donavon, Prisma or MediaOcean to electronically track the buy to ensure all placements are run correctly. If there is not an operating system, the media buyer will have to manually put the buy in a spreadsheet. It is important to track the buy during the campaign so you can “make good” any ads that did not run while it is “in flight” (the start/end date of campaign).

5. The Monitoring

Track delivery goals to ensure your campaign is on track to meet goals. A successful media buyer will always, make a connection with media partners/representatives, stay under the budget, and monitor campaign to ensure delivery.

With that, you’re on your way to understanding a little more of what goes into media buying!


Gerreka Gilliam is a Creative Circle candidate and freelance media professional with over five years of integrated marketing and advertising experience specializing in media buying and planning.

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