Advertising Media Director Career Profile

What is an Advertising Media Director, and What Do They Do?

Media Director
Media Director. Getty Images

You have no doubt heard the title of "Media Director," but have questions about the role, and the responsibilities assigned to it. Well, when you see (or hear) an advertisement, be it on TV, radio, a billboard, the Internet, in your mailbox, in newspapers and magazines, on your cell phone, or at the movies, a Media Director will have played a major part in getting it there. It is his or her responsibility to head up the media department, and make crucial decisions regarding the timing and placement of those advertisements.

Job Description

The Media Director will work hand-in-hand with the client, the account team, and the creative department, to ensure that as many of the target demographic as possible see the ad campaign. Using a mixture of market research, analysis, pricing structures and client considerations, the Media Director is ultimately responsible for making sure the ad campaign has enormous reach for the best possible price.

Salary Range

Make no mistake, the Media Director is a position of great responsibility, and therefore comes with a salary to reflect that. In New York, a Media Director can expect to earn a median salary of $158,726 including annual bonus, with the low end being $120,928, and the high end being $203,540. It is a well-paid career.

Special Skills

  • Excellent planning abilities, particularly in broadcast, print, outdoor, online and radio.
  • Continued awareness of the latest social media and advertising trends.
  • Superb negotiation skills, needed to guarantee great pricing and audience reach.
  • Works well under pressure, thriving under tight deadlines.
  • Can easily work with a wide range of people, including clients, sales people and your own staff
  • Able to analyze research data to determine the best placement for the client's needs
  • Extremely well-organized

Education and Training

You cannot become a Media Director straight out of college. It is a position, like Creative Director or Account Director, then requires a great deal of hard-nosed industry experience. However, along with that experience, most Media Directors will be well educated. You can expect a Media Director to have at least a 4-year college degree (a Master’s Degree is preferred) in:

  • Advertising
  • Communication
  • Journalism
  • Business administration
  • Marketing
  • Finance/accounting
  • Economics

A typical Media Director will have a minimum of 5-10 years’ experience in a media department, with hands-on experience in media research, media buying, and managing a staff of media experts.

Typical Day

As with most jobs in advertising, a typical day does not really exist. In particular, the Media Director has to be ready to react to current events and changing markets at a moment’s notice. For example, in the event of a tragedy or a piece of controversial news, a Media Director has to be ready to step in quickly and ensure that media buys are pulled from certain outlets to avoid embarrassment (or worse) for both the agency and the client. However, during a typical month at an advertising agency, the Media Director will usually:

  • Meet with media sales people
  • Attend strategy meetings for new business
  • Pitch to potential clients
  • Contact clients to discuss their projects
  • Manage the media department
  • Check the status of client accounts
  • Plan for future media buys
  • Meet with vendors offering media opportunities
  • Keep up on the latest trends, particularly in the social space

Getting a Job

Like most other advertising professions, you can expect some heavy competition when trying to get into the media department. You will not immediately step into the role of Media Director; there is a ladder to climb, and before that hefty position comes a role as Media Buyer and Media Planner, with both junior and senior variations of those in the mix.

If you're still in college, interning at an ad agency gives you the opportunity to see what working in the media department will be like.

It is also a fantastic way to make contacts, and get references for jobs elsewhere if no positions are available at that agency after you graduate.

Fringe Benefits

A Media Director should expect to travel far and wide to meet with various vendors around the country (and possibly the world, for International campaigns). A Media Director can also expect to be courted by vendors, clients and other outside agencies, resulting in a lot of free meals, tickets to shows, and days out at sporting events. This is simply the nature of the business, it is how a lot of business gets negotiated.