What do Media Agencies do?
The role of the media agency is to make sure a marketing message appeals to consumers, appears in the right place, at the right time and that the advertiser pays the best possible price
When media agencies were first launched, their main focus was on buying media space cheaper and more efficiently than the advertising agencies, which had previously managed the process of media buying. Their first clients were often direct response advertisers, marketers who had to make sure each ad paid for itself in consumer orders.
As they developed media agencies added planning skills and an understanding of consumer behaviour to their offering.  Media agencies became a vital source of communications advice for all types of advertisers by understanding what motivates a target group of consumers as well as the media they watch, read or hear,.
In today’s complex media world, the role of the media agency is central to the development of effective communications. By understanding what will motivate consumers to change their behaviour as well as the best places and times for any message to appear, media agencies are helping to maximise the effectiveness of their client’s marketing messages.


How does a media agency work?
Media agencies receive briefs from their clients. They can be tasked to do many different things, help launch a new product, drive sales of a brand extension or change perceptions of a brand operating in a sensitive industry. The next step for a media agency is to seek to understand more about the people it wants to influence. A media agency will research how the target group uses media, both traditional and social media. The media agency will then work closely with the client and the brand’s other agencies, if appropriate, to develop an idea and a media plan that media buyers and/or content creators can then implement.
Media agencies ensure that clients really understand the behaviour of their consumers; they make sure messages are targeted correctly; they ensure that clients really understand the potential of the latest technology and that they have access to the latest offerings from key media owners. In essence, media agencies act as the conduit between the client and the consumer as well as the conduit between client and media owners.
As consumers have started to use more and more media sources for their information and entertainment, so the definition of a media owner has broadened. Media agencies now work with social networks, brands that produce their own content or simply communicate regularly with customers, for example, as well as the more traditional newspapers, TV and radio. Media agencies build relationships with all these providers to ensure that advertisers have access to all possible opportunities.

Areas of Expertise
Media agencies have three core areas of expertise: they understand consumers more deeply than anyone else, they understand the media landscape better than anyone else and they have the relationships and power with media owners to deliver better deals than anyone else.
Consumer understanding means ensuring media agency clients know how and when their target group reads, listens, watches, distributes or creates content. It also means media agencies know what triggers are needed to change brand selection from A to B. Media agencies also provide insight into how the media landscape is changing, what new technologies are likely to catch on and what opportunities they provide for clients. Finally media agencies have close relationships with established media owners. This ensures they are first to hear about great new shows, sponsorship opportunities and other key opportunities to put clients’ names in the picture. These relationships also extend to media agencies’ ability to buy paid media more effectively for clients. Because media agencies buy so much advertising for so many different advertisers, they can negotiate better discounts for their clients by leveraging market knowledge, negotiation power and long-standing relationships

Roles at media agencies include

Account Management : responsible for the day to day running of an account and a key contact for the client

Strategic Planning: Identify the target audience, what the best media channels are to reach this target to deliver marketing objectives and to identify innovative ways of communicating to the consumer.

Implementation Planning and Buying: This function is aimed to identify how the selected media channels can best be used in order to deliver the strategy (ie, what stations, day parts, programs, titles etc)

Buying/Trading: To negotiate and place all media activity and leverage negotiations and increase added value benefits.

Research: Manage industry research inputs and assist agency in utilising the range of proprietary systems to assist the planning and buying functions.

Modelling and econometrics: Provide econometric modelling services that assist in maximising client return on their marketing investment.

Digital: Almost all media agencies have a specialist digital department who identify the right digital platform to meet the media brief and to undertake the role of planning and buying in this specific field.  They offer a varied array of services including Display Media Planning and Buying, pay per click (PPC), search engine optimization (SEO), Marketing Technology Services, Social .
They also often offer Digital Creative, and provide the creatives services for digital media messages eg: digital media marketing, online reputation management and programmatic Media

So why work at a media agency?
It’s fun:  Yes, there are lots of parties. But beyond all of the free beer and nights out what makes a media agency really special are the people you meet. You will work in teams of like-minded intelligent people who are energetic and enthusiastic. Many of the staff are younger, with diverse backgrounds. There is an exuberance and exchange of ideas that you often don’t find at more traditional companies.

It’s an education. At a media agency you will sit at the intersection of a business where every year nearly 10 billion pounds need to be found a home. There is simply no better place to learn so much about business, so quickly.  You’ll also have direct access to clients and learn how the marketing budget process works. The foundation this creates will carry you throughout your entire career.

It’s a ring-side seat. At a media agency you’ll have the chance to witness the greatest change taking place in advertising since the 1960s. You’ll see how all media advertising is increasingly becoming digital, interactive and increasingly automated. You will also be present for the start of the next great age of advertising, where brand content, not just the message or the medium, is the focus.

You may also get to travel the world, attend conferences and launches, and generally live well beyond your salary.

It builds a powerful network and you will make lots of friends. The people you will work with in your first job will end up dispersed across the industry. The benefit of having a powerful network like this cannot be underestimated. Relationships — not just scale — matter in this industry.

It is rewarding : Media agencies offer great working conditions and benefits.  The career path is steep and rewarding but you will be expected to work hard and do long hours. However, this will be recognised so you can expect to be promoted and rise through the ranks quickly.

Example career path and salaries:

Graduate entry level salaries are between £18-21k (eg media assistant, junior executive).

After 1-2 years you can expect to earn £25-28k (eg media executive, planner/buyer),

After 3-4 years –  £30-35k (senior planner/buyer, account manager)

After 4-5 years – £40-45k (senior account manager/strategy manager/associate director)

After 5-6 years – £50-70k (account director)

After 6 -8 years  – £80- £120k (group account director , business director, strategy director)

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Sounds good? Wondering how to get your first Media Agency Job?

Getting a first job at a media agency can be challenging. But if you are knowledgeable, enthusiastic and willing to start at the bottom, you can get in.
Here are some tips…

  1. Call Harrison Dear! We work with major agency groups and smaller independent agencies and regularly receive briefs from them for some fantastic graduate roles
  2. Work Experience
    If you have the opportunity to get some work experience, by all means, you should. While it will be unpaid, it can give you a good look at all of the areas within an agency, and help you evaluate which one is right for you. If you get work experience, make the most it: develop contacts, gain experiences and do something that you can put on a CV.
  3. Take an Entry Level Position
    Many people have successfully started their career at a media agency by taking an entry level role and working their way up. Don’t be afraid to work outside of your job description. Just get in, work hard and learn everything you can. If you’re unable to move up within that particular agency, you can still use the experience to get a job at another agency in the long term.
  4. Network
    Look for opportunities to meet with people who are working in the industry. Look for educational seminars and professional workshops. Get out there and meet the people who could be your next potential employer or peer. Many network connections also begin online. Seek out and join media groups on the Internet and get your name and opinions out there. Ask questions to learn and to build relationships.
  5. Be Knowledgeable and Enthusiastic
    Before going into an interview at a media agency make sure that you know everything about them: know their history, their clients and their point of view, and be able to talk about them. Convey that you have chosen them, and want to be a part of what they do.
  6. Are you passionate about working at a media agency? Then make sure you show it. In the interview talk about media and advertising that excites you and be able to express an understanding of why it does. Employers get excited when they see someone with genuine passion and enthusiasm. There’s a reason they got into the field and your energy and enthusiasm are a reminder of that. People with a lot of experience have been beaten out of jobs by someone with less experience, but a lot of heart.
  7. Advertise Yourself
    The great thing about working in media and advertising is that there’s always room for the best and the brightest. The key to marketing to media agencies is to be someone that stands out above all the other people vying for the same position. You don’t necessarily need experience to do this, but you do need resourcefulness. With email, social networks, websites and blogs you have unlimited opportunities to communicate with the advertising community.

For more information call Sam Wallis on 07875 416602, email