Blog Post

How to Become a Great Digital Media Buyer?

October 4, 2017 - Mitchell Carey

Since the onset of the digital transformation, the role of digital media buyer has been one of the most in-demand jobs in the advertising industry. Although digital media buying in and of itself is nothing new, it’s a profession that’s constantly adapting to new digital channels, technologies and platforms.

As a key liaison between agencies and advertisers, digital media buyers support in the creation and implementation of advertising campaigns for different brands. Although digital media buyers may be involved in many decisions made throughout the campaign planning process, the most important decisions lie in determining which online media channels and what tactics will yield the greatest reach and be most effective in achieving campaign goals.

In order to successfully do this, there are certain attributes and competencies required from today’s digital advertising industry. Would you know how to identify the necessary skills needed to be a digital media buyer? What type of person does it take to get the job done? Several professionals have expressed their opinions on this subject and these are a summary the most requested characteristics and skill sets:

  • A digital media buyer must be curious and not be afraid of tackling complex problems.
  • A buyer must possess an in-depth knowledge of the industry in which its customers operate.
  • Also, they must be an interdisciplinary professional that can manage both traditional and digital marketing with ease.

What exactly is a Digital Media Buyer?


It’s commonly thought that a digital media buyer is simply responsible for laying out the plan for a brand’s digital ad campaign, deciding what online channels (social media, apps, search engines, site banners, streaming platforms, etc.) will set the stage for the most conversions, greatest brand recognition, or the generation of the most qualified leads. However, a digital media buyer’s role extends far beyond much beyond this.
They’re the people that come in contact with almost every actor in the digital advertising planning and execution processes, so they end up learning not only how to create the roadmap of a campaign, but also how to drive it forward. These responsibilities demand the digital media buyer to be a multifaceted professional in order to meet their clients’ needs.

6 Important Attributes Needed to be a Great Digital Media Buyer

If you’ve ever considered a career in digital media buying and want to envision yourself in the role, ask yourself if you possess the below attributes:

1.) Team Player


Successful digital media buyers are always team players because they have to work with many people in a variety of contexts. Whether reaching out to a more experienced buyer for help in overcoming an unforeseen campaign obstacle, inquiring about how to use new programmatic bidding technology and submitting requests to the product team, or developing account relationships with the sales team, planning and executing a digital ad campaign is never a one-person job.

2.) Digital Expert
Although a digital media buyer isn’t expected to start their first day on the job completely adept in all things digital, it’s crucial to always maintain an eagerness to learn about the constantly evolving digital advertising ecosystem. It’s to a buyer’s advantage to become an early adopter of new technologies and platforms, because more likely than not, they’ll eventually be incorporated into new forms of online advertising. A few examples of new online user tendencies that have since been integrated into digital advertising include:

  • Live Stream Video Advertising
  • In-App Mobile Advertising
  • Social Media Advertising

Some of the most frequently used tools and resources by buyers to keep up and plan effective digital ad and programmatic campaigns include:

  • Scarborough, MRI, or other demographic databases that provide information surrounding the digital channels where a campaign’s target audience can be found and measures the impact different digital platforms can have on these audiences.
  • ComScore Data to see specific sites if your goal is to introduce a brand to a new market or target audience, digital media buyers can analyze data from ComScore and other internet market research companies like Nielsen, to determine where on the web they should be redirecting their ads.
  • Social Tools: Of course, advertising via Facebook, Twitter, and now Instagram, provide incredible reach when campaigns are correctly implemented.

3.) Natural Networker
If you’re a naturally extroverted and well-connected person, you might want to consider digital media buying. The job can be very social because it requires working with various partners and clients, often through networking and socializing outside of the office. High-energy people who aren’t afraid to reach out to industry experts for the solutions they need to make their client’s campaign plans a reality.

4.) Skilled Negotiator
If you want to become a digital media buyer, you have to present your media plan, receive approval, and then follow through on the plan under the approved parameters. Familiarity with standard industry rates for ad inventory and having the ability to stretch a budget to maximize ROI on ad spend will both improve the client’s campaign results and increase margins for the buyer’s agency.

5.) Resourceful Problem Solver
One of the most important feats for any digital media buyer to achieve is overcoming obstacles and implementing inventive solutions while designing campaigns from the ground up, almost like a digital media engineer. For example, if a customer requests paid search in their digital media plan, the digital media buyer needs to determine if an Adwords campaign is needed and how to select keywords that will help optimize the SEM (search engine marketing) element of the campaign. 

6.) Intuitive Analyst
Beyond organizing Excel spreadsheets with copious amounts of qualitative and quantitative data collected over the course of a campaign, digital media buyers should also be able to explain the reasoning behind why different users take different paths during their consumer journey and what needs to be done to drive conversions. With the increase in data that online publishers provide, a digital media buyer has to understand and analyze media and market data, as well as brand development indices and campaign performances by digital channel.

How to Become a Digital Media Buyer

You don’t need any special training or a graduate-level degree to become a digital media buyer. However, most agencies seek candidates with an undergraduate degree and experience in communications, PR, statistics, or marketing. Beyond this general background, digital media buyers are expected to have strong writing skills, the ability to effectively track and analyze metrics, and a passion for all things digital, including:

  • Ability to appropriately budget and report
  • Clear and succinct cross-departmental communicator
  • Knowledge of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
  • Capable of implementing Google Adwords
  • Experience using media planning and performance tools like Google Analytics, Comscore, DoubleClick, etc.
  • A genuine passion for technology

Once a position has been landed and the digital media buyer is assigned to a new account, the first question the new hire should ask him or herself is: “How can this client, regardless of size or industry, build and strengthen its brand?” From there the buyer will analyze the digital channels where this brand’s advertisements will have optimal impact.

Resources for Digital Media Buyers

If you want to take some first steps towards a career in digital media buying or sharpen your skills, it’s a good idea to get in touch with and stay engaged with top media professionals at ad agencies.

  1. AdAge Datacenter: A primary resource for business intelligence and media research, this database can serve as a great starting point to expand your media buying contacts from top agencies.
  2. LinkedIn Sales Navigator.: Digital Sales professionals use this tool to find contacts and get referrals to important brands and agencies.

A digital media buyer with all of these skills and attributes is essential to the success of any digital ad campaign. Are you in need of proprietary programmatic solutions paired with exceptional digital media planning to make your next digital ad campaign a success? Learn more about how Digilant can take you there.

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