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Career Story: Broadcast Media Buyer At An Ad Agency

Broadcast Media Buyer At An Ad Agency

Job Title: Broadcast Media Buyer

Type of Company: My company is a full service ad agency, handling all aspects of a client's advertising needs including creative (from concept inception to commercial production in all areas such as print, radio, TV, online), account service, and media planning and buying.

Education: BA, Communications, State University of New York (New Paltz, NY)

Previous Experience: I started as a sales assistant at Westinghouse Broadcasting and later became a media buyer for national TV at major a New York advertising agency. I have moved around to several different agencies in this capacity.

Job Tasks: My key responsibilities are to negotiate the best possible rates for commercial time on local radio and TV stations on behalf of our clients who are active in a particular market. These negotiations are strongly affected by supply and demand (basically, the commercial spot time a station has to sell) based on marketplace conditions which are influenced by Nielsen ratings.

On a typical day, I evaluate the ratings of programs offered by stations, using Nielsen data and certain generally-accepted formulas to determine what the ratings for the programs are likely to be during the time my client's spots would air. Nielsen numbers are based on the demographics of the audience that the client wants to reach. The target audience for Clairol Hair Dye is older woman, and if Clairol were my client I would want to choose a program whose Nielsen numbers were high for that demographic. Daytime soap operas would be a good place to find a large audience of older women, whereas "The Real World" on MTV would be a less likely place. From the Nielsen numbers I can determine what I believe is a fair price to pay for the spots.

After doing this forecasting for all of the programming offered by a station, I would compare my "fair price" to the prices offered by the station for sale of these spots and 99% of the time, the amount the stations want to sell the inventory for will be higher than what is determined to be the fair price for the client. At this point, I would start the negotiation with the salesperson at the station for the pricing on the programming that I feel would be most desirable for a particular client.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part is probably the subject matter. You often know about programming before the general public and everyone is always interested in the media. It makes for good conversation. People are interested because you are "in the know". Another great thing is some of the "perks". Because stations sponsor local events, they often provide free tickets to concerts, plays, etc. Also, when you negotiate hard and feel you really got a "great deal," it's an awesome "winning" feeling.

The worst part is when you work extremely hard to put together a fantastic package and as the time approaches when it will go on the air, the client decides to cancel the advertising. After working so closely with the sales person at each station you have to then go back and cancel an order. This is difficult not only because I put so much into it, but because sales people work strictly on commission, so this is money out of their pockets. Over the years you get to know your sales people pretty well and it's uncomfortable to be in this situation. But it is part of the job.

Job Tips:
1. The most important thing to know if you plan on going into any type of media and/or advertising is to be well-versed in online advertising and social marketing. More advertisers are shifting dollars into these arenas and if you only know how to deal with traditional media, that would be a handicap.

2. Do as many internships as possible. One should be in an ad agency and then if possible do one in a broadcast venue, a print venue, and an online venue.

3. While still in school read Ad Age, MediaWeek, and Adweek on a regular basis to get familiar with what's going on in the world of media and advertising. This will help you to learn the lingo, get to know who the players are and just be familiar with the general issues.

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