Technical Skills You’ll Need to Succeed at an Ad Agency


The media investment world is a small one. Within a few years working at an ad agency, you will feel as though you know everyone in the community- whether in TV or digital, client-facing or sales. While technology and social media have rapidly transformed content viewing behavior, many core aspects of the TV industry have stayed the same. Although investing is largely a technical numbers game, working in the media industry also demands soft-skills; being able to strategically network, negotiate, and socialize.

Let’s back up. What does a media investor do?

Media investing operates within an advertising agency. At all levels of seniority, media investors are responsible for strategically negotiating the price and placement of ads, on behalf of their clients. In order to negotiate and monitor deals, you work directly with the respective TV network sales team. (If working in the digital space, you would negotiate with online vendors.)

Get good at Excel. Really good.

If you work at an ad agency, not one day will go by without opening an excel spreadsheet. Many assistants are taught excel on the job, but it is highly recommended that you have a good grasp on the system beforehand. You will not move up the ranks quickly, or even be promoted past assistant level without being a confident “excel wizard.” This means being able to compute, format, link, and formulate across multiple cells and sheets with ease.

Media Math

While most individuals working in the industry did not formally study advertising or even business, there is a language and technical shorthand all media investors must quickly come to understand. Clients that are investing millions of dollars into advertising want to know exactly how and why their money is being spent, and what they are getting in return. This often boils down to a money/viewership equation, but the math computations and proof vocabulary can become quite advanced.

Negotiating Skills

Once an assistant owns the basic media vocabulary, math computations, and excel savvy, more soft-skills come into play. Being able to negotiate is critical to the success of a media buyer. The goal is to spend as little as possible, while getting as much value as you can for your client. The negotiating aspect can prove daunting and overwhelming for most first-timers. Being able to negotiate well does not come easy to most- practice makes perfect!

Who You Know Matters

The most successful people in the media industry are not necessarily the smartest or hardest working. Because you are dealing with clients and negotiating with sales teams, your reputation and likeability are dominant factors to your success. Your network is often discussed in your worth as an employee. For that reason, the work day is rarely over at 6… many nights are filled with required dinners with clients, networking events, and parties. For some, the social aspect is what makes the industry fun and exciting. However, if you are not the most social person, the pressure to take part in these events can start to feel like an obligation.

Understand the television cycle, pop culture, and distribution.

You don’t have to be in the ad industry to know that technology has radically changed the way content is consumed today. Media investors now have to compete with commercial-free streaming services, social media, and recording devices in order to get their client’s advertisement seen. Outsmart the system by having a comprehensive understanding of consumer behavior and pop culture; this will help you navigate and find the best spot to place your client (it’s all about added value!) Know your consumer and anticipate where they will be.

Median Media Investment Salary: $62,000

Photo by Frank Okay on Unsplash

Are you an educator or a teacher?

Find Your Grind has a variety of educational products in schools across North America.

learn more