Twitter Facebook Vimeo
Suggest addition

Media industry
careers guide

Fancy a career in the media industry? We have all the knowledge and tips to help you become a media pro.

What is media?

"Delivering a marketing message for a client’s brand or product in the right place and at the right time."

Media is the area of the creative industries that uses different channels to communicate on behalf of brands and agencies. Those channels include TV, film, print, search, direct mail and many many others.

If you work in media, you don't make the adverts, you are the one who delivers it to the audience. A TV advert needs an advertising break on a TV channel to air. A poster needs a bus stop or billboard to be displayed on. And a magazine advert needs a magazine. Without media, an advert has no audience. There are hundreds of TV channels, thousands of magazines and newspapers, hundreds of thousands of poster and billboard sites around the streets we walk on. Not to mention the countless options in digital media.

Working in media you’ll, quickly become an expert in all this, being able to plan out exactly where your client should be placing their advertising and buying that space for them.

Media agencies innovate through collaboration and even the creation of new channels for them to use. Working in media you might plan interactive bus stop adverts, billboards that are controlled by social media, TV adverts that can send a message to your phone and many more weird and wonderful ways of interacting with an audience.

New channels are being created all the time, we started with selling space in papers and on billboards, developed into radio and the TV. A huge amount of films are funded by the product placement within them and you've got to get to a dark place of the internet to avoid any brands trying to get your attention.

How does media work

In media you will be governed by a budget, this is where the client has decided to spend x million pounds on paying for media channel space. It's not a case of plucking the figure out of thin air, often the relationship you have with a clint will mean you collaborate on the budget, you identifying what you would like to spend to hit targets, and them checking that against what funds are available.

Once a budget is defined, it is time to plan how, where and when it is going to be spent. This will again be done as a collaborative process with the client inputting information, you gathering data and research, the ad agency saying what they are capable of producing etc.

Planning media is all about strategy. Combining expertise across all media channels and a bucket load of research about consumers, media planners will decide where adverts should be placed. Obviously they want to reach as many of their target audience as possible, it’s no good placing a TV advert for kids at 11 o’clock at night. But it is also about catching the consumer at the right time, the time they’d be most receptive to the advertising message and make choice to buy or follow that brand. If the advert claims to solve a problem, you might want to show it to consumers when they are experiencing that problem. You also might avoid showing adverts to your audience when they are tired or in a bad mood.

Media buyers will then take over to execute the media plan, they'll contact the relevant media owners and try to buy the media space. This is all about forming a good relationship with the media owner and trying to get the best deal for your client. Large media agencies do really well here because they can promise bulk purchases from some channels.

There are number of tools used in buying media especially for online advertising, such as Ad Exchanges, Ad Networks etc.

A large part of how media is now bought and sold is based on real time advertising networks that work in a similar way to financial markets, enabling media agencies to buy space when they wish or to sell space if advertising isn’t going to plan.

It can be an incredibly exciting experience discussing budgets, defining strategies and bidding for space and once all the hard work is done, you get to see your work all around you, on TV and online which is pretty cool.

Media examples

  • Channel 4 – Paralympics
    OMD, 2012 (TV)

  • Pepsi Max – Live For Now
    Arnold KLP, 2013 (Ambient)

  • LEGO Ad Break
    PHD, 2014 (TV)

Jobs in media

As we have found out, media agencies are tasked with delivering marketing and advertising ideas via the numerous channels available. As with the rest of this guide we’ve outlined the entry level roles into a typical media agency.


Working in accounts involves spending time with the client, understanding their needs and feedback as well as working with the rest of agency to make sure you are delivering the work required. You’ll need to be self-motivated, well organised and adaptable to different situations.

Skills required:

  • Organisation
  • Sociable
  • Presenting
  • Maths
  • English


  • Digital/Online Executive
    £18k to £25k
  • Project Executive
    £18k to £25k
  • Media Co-ordinator
    £20k to £30k

New business

Tracking down and selling your agency to prospective clients is the main goal in business development. You’ll need to be sociable, persuasive and good at understanding the needs of a client’s business.

Skills required:

  • Presenting
  • Selling
  • Communication
  • Networking
  • Sociable
  • English and Maths


  • New Business Executive
    £18k to £25k

Media buying

When buying media space for your client, you’ll need to be sociable, persuasive and good at bartering.

Skills required:

  • Negotiation
  • Maths
  • Organisation
  • Networking


  • Media Buyer
    £25k to £35k

Media Planning

To be successful in planning you’ll need to be infinitely curious and experimental, with a keen eye for detail as you produce long and short term strategies.

Skills required:

  • Organised
  • Long term planning
  • Strategic
  • Personable
  • Understanding of channels


  • Media Planner
    £25k to £35k


Being inquisitive about human behaviour, an excellent eye for spotting trends and the ability to analyse data are a few things needed for working in the research department.

Skills required:

  • Mathematics
  • Analytical
  • Reporting
  • Identifying trends


  • Analytics Executive
    £25k to £40k
  • Data Analyst
    £25k to £40k
  • Data Planner
    £30k to £50k

Media companies

There are lots of huge media agencies around but there’s certainly a few options to start out somewhere smaller while you learn the ropes.

Small (0-50 people)

  • the7Stars
  • Goodstuff
  • Cream
  • MJ Media
  • Republic of Media
  • The Specialist Works
  • TTMV
  • The Media Works
  • Sold Out
  • Transport Media

Medium (50-250 people)

  • Quantcast
  • MNC
  • AdConnection
  • Total Media
  • AMS Media Group
  • Generation Media
  • Posterscope
  • RAPP Media
  • All Response Media
  • AKA

Large (250+ people)

  • ZenithOptimedia
  • Mindshare
  • MEC
  • Carat
  • OMD
  • MediaCom
  • Starcom MediaVest Group
  • PHD
  • Universal McCann
  • Maxus

  • Confessions of a Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday
  • Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin
  • Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger
  • Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
  • The Online Advertising Playbook by multiple authors