Media specialists are responsible for placing advertise­ments that will reach targeted customers and get the best response from the market for the least amount of money. Within the media department, media planners gather information about the sizes and types of audiences that can be reached through each of the various media and about the cost of advertising in each medium. Media buyers, sometimes called advertising sales agents, pur­chase space in printed publications, as well as time on radio or television stations. Advertising media workers are supervised by a media director, who is accountable for the overall media plan. In addition to advertising agencies, media planners and buyers work for large com­panies that purchase space or broadcast time.

Media Planner and Media Buyer Career History

The first formal media that allowed advertisers to deliver messages about their products or services to the public were newspapers and magazines, which began selling space to advertisers in the late 19th century. This system of placing ads gave rise to the first media planners and buyers, who were in charge of deciding what kind of advertising to put in which publications and then actu­ally purchasing the space.

In the broadcast realm, radio stations started offer­ing program time to advertisers in the early 1900s. And, while television advertising began just before the end of World War II, producers were quick to realize that they could reach huge audiences by placing ads on TV. Television advertising proved to be beneficial to the TV stations as well, since they relied on sponsors for finan­cial assistance in order to bring programs into people’s homes. In the past, programs were sometimes named not for the host or star of the program, but for the sponsor­ing company that was paying for the broadcast of that particular show.

Today’s media planners and buyers have a wide array of media from which to choose. The newest of these, the World Wide Web, allows advertisers not only to precisely target customers but to interact with them as well. In addition to Web banner ads, producers can also adver­tise via sponsorships, their own Web sites, CD catalogs, voice-mail telephone shopping, and more. With so many choices, media planners and buyers must carefully deter­mine target markets and select the ideal media mix in order to reach these markets at the least cost.

Media Planner and Media Buyer Career Requirements

High School

Although most media positions, including those at the entry level, require a bachelor’s degree, you can prepare for a future job as media planner and/ or buyer by taking specific courses offered at the high school level. These include business, mar­keting, advertising, cinematography, radio and television, and film and video. General liberal arts classes, such as eco­nomics, English, communication, and journalism, are also important, since media planners and buyers must be able to communicate clearly with both clients and coworkers. In addition, mathematics classes will give you the skills to work accurately with budget figures and placement costs.

Work Environment

Although media planners and buyers often work a 40­hour week, their hours are not strictly nine to five. Ser­vice calls, presentations, and meetings with ad space reps and clients are important parts of the job that usually have a profound effect on work schedules. In addition, media planners and buyers must invest considerable time investigating and reading about trends in programming, buying, and advertising.

The variety of opportunities for media planners and buyers results in a wide diversity of working conditions. Larger advertising agencies, publications, and networks may have modern and comfortable working facilities. Smaller markets may have more modest working envi­ronments.

Media Planner and Media Buyer Career Outlook

The employment outlook for media planners and buy­ers, like the outlook for the advertising industry itself, depends on the general health of the economy. When the economy thrives, companies produce an increasing num­ber of goods and seek to promote them via television, radio, the Internet, newspapers, magazines, and various other media. The U.S. Department of Labor anticipates that employment in the advertising industry is projected to grow 22 percent over the 2004-14 period, faster than the average for all industries.

Employment possibilities for media specialists are far greater in large cities, such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, where most magazines and many broad­cast networks have their headquarters. However, smaller publications are often located in outlying areas, and large national organizations usually have sales offices in several cities across the country.

Competition for all advertising positions, including entry-level jobs, is expected to be intense. Media planners and buyers who have considerable experience will have the best chances of finding employment.

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