Freelance Media Buyer – How to Hire, When to Fire

Look for media buyers who have qualifications and experience, and you can often find good ones on job aggregator sites like Indeed, Monster, and Careerbuilder. However, if the media buyer has performance-related issues or a lack of rapport with media vendors, it’s time to let them go and find a new one.

Media buyers are an invaluable part of advertising and promotion teams. They take care of the often complicated process of purchasing ad space on the most relevant channels. A freelance media buyer can be an even greater value proposition for companies on a limited budget or advertising scope. 

That said, hiring a freelance media buyer can be tough, especially if you’ve never used the services of one before. Here’s a complete breakdown of how to hire and when to fire a freelance media buyer.

Freelance Media Buyer [Job Overview]

Simply put, a media buyer is someone who helps their host company place digital, video, print, and broadcast ads on their corresponding platforms. 

They are in charge of negotiating ad rates, purchasing ad spaces, and tracking the performance of an ad to see how effective it is at converting the target audience. 

In the majority of cases, media buyers also help their respective teams understand the normal and potential performance of ads for each separate venue. 

Freelance media buyers are not part of an in-house media buying/marketing team. They are usually former marketers who found that their natural skills at negotiating for prime advertising are best used by continuing to do it. 

Bigger companies often have several ad campaigns running at once. They may not have the time or resources to hire and train an in-house media buyer who may not develop the skills needed for the job.

This is why it may be best to hire a freelancer instead. 

How To Hire a Freelance Media Buyer

Although it appears straightforward, hiring a good media buyer is difficult. Trouble is, you need a great media buyer to solve your promotional media issues, and such buyers are almost impossible to find in the greater job market. 

There are so many factors that make up the perfect media buyer that hitting all the criteria can be tough for any hiring team. This is especially true for freelance professionals, since finding out their past performance is arguably harder. 

Luckily, over the years we have set some criteria that have proven to be vital. 

Freelance Media Buyer Qualifications

Media buying is a field of expertise that requires first-hand experience, rather than simply having academic qualifications. However, you should still consider hiring someone with the qualifications to back up their skills.

Ideally, a freelance media buying expert should have one or more of the following qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Media – Communications
  • Vocational diploma in Advertising
  • Vocational diploma in Marketing, Promotions, and/or Sales

The last entry is the most suitable for a freelance media buyer. It’s proof that they have some educational background in media buying from a practical standpoint. 

If the candidate doesn’t have any of these qualifications but is certified by an online institute, you should still consider their candidacy as valid. This is because most freelance professionals can gain all the relevant skills via an online course. 

In some cases, they may even learn handy skills that a degree program may not teach them.  

In any case, the single most important asset that you should look for is direct experience in an environment that contains promotional campaigns based on bought media.

Freelance Media Buyer Experience

As mentioned earlier, experience should always be the primary factor when considering an applicant for a freelance media buyer position. 

The ideal candidate should have considerable experience in the following areas:

  • Participating in major advertising campaigns.
  • Running or managing promotional campaigns in a corporation.
  • Assisting with market research to find the best vendors.
  • Conducting interviews and procurement calls with vendors.
  • Managing a team of freelance media buyers.
  • Working as a freelance media buyer for at least four to five years.

The amount of experience preferred can be arbitrary and may vary from employer to employer. However, the four to five year mark is ideal because a freelance professional should have acquired all the skills necessary to satisfy the demands of the position in that time.

If the media buyer has always worked freelance, they should have either collaborated with an in-house media buying team, or worked as an external member of a marketing team that is fulfilling the media buying role.

Miscellaneous Requirements

Aside from an education in the relevant subjects and experience in the media and promotion sphere, a freelance media buyer should have certain qualities that are paramount for the job in question.

Here are some of the extra qualities you should look for in the perfect candidate for your company:

  • Excellent conversion and communication skills, especially from a sales perspective.
  • Ability to explain the benefits of a media marketing campaign.
  • Full knowledge of the company’s marketing objectives over the next few years, or with regard to a specific campaign.
  • Knowledge of total budget allocation toward various aspects of the campaign.
  • Ability to consistently track ad performance.
  • Talent for recognizing and capturing problem areas in ad campaigns.
  • High-level negotiation skills.
  • A great understanding of seasonal ad performance and vendor preferences.
  • The flexibility to adapt to new situations and integrate unique external ideas into their existing set of beliefs.
  • A high amount of creativity and the capacity to come up with creative solutions to otherwise complicated problems.
  • Exceptional judgment, especially in situations where the company’s success and recognition is dependent on the performance of an ad campaign.
  • A knack for taking strategic decisions at the right time to maximize the impact of a certain campaign.
  • A desire to see their own performance improve with time.

In addition to the above, a great freelance media buying candidate should have proof of performance. This could be in the form of recommendations from previous employers, or their name on certain well-performing campaigns. 

It also helps if the person is part of a network of top-notch professionals who are thoroughly tested for all of the aforementioned qualities and more.

On the equipment side of things, a freelance media buyer will usually be working from their own space. Because of this, they will require a stable internet connection with capacity to run several programs at once. They also need to be able to track ad performance in real time in order to create accurate reports.

Hiring a Freelance Media Buyer

Here are some of the places you’ll find media buyers seeking freelance work:

  • Job aggregator sites
  • Social media job sections
  • Online classifieds
  • Social media for professionals

That said, there is one drawback in hiring from these places. You can never know how talented a freelance media buyer really is, or have an accurate track record of their performance.

This is where dedicated media buyer marketplaces such as ours come in. We do all the vetting needed and onboard only the best professionals who have all the necessary educational and experience requirements for the job.

When to Fire a Freelance Media Buyer

A less than ideal media buyer will not only negatively affect your promotional campaigns, but it also might tarnish you or your marketing department’s reputation among media vendors. 

This is why you need to know exactly when it’s time to let a freelance media buyer go.

Here are some of the conditions that would require you to fire your freelance media buyer:

Performance-Related Issues

A media buyer’s performance is often measured by their ability to secure the best deals in terms of marketing media.

Additionally, they should be able to purchase prime marketing space on a regular basis. 

However, this isn’t always so, and there are plenty of employers who have had to fire a media buyer who simply did not have the sales and negotiation skills to get the job done right. 

To help you better understand firing criteria, here are some performance-related issues that would warrant firing a freelance media buyer:

  • Inability to help you effectively manage your social media campaigns.
  • Can’t determine which ad space is ideal for which marketing asset.
  • Purchases are not in line with the set marketing budgets.
  • They don’t negotiate the best rates with vendors.
  • Failure to accurately use analytics systems to track and report on ad performance.
  • They don’t communicate specific ad performance for each type of venue.

Depending on the position in question, a freelance media buyer would be responsible for arranging the very platforms that companies market their services on. 

This is an extremely important aspect of the overall marketing strategy for a company, since placement can determine the overall success or failure of the ad. If an ad is not positioned correctly, a potential buyer may develop indifference toward it. 

In fact, according to a study, 86% of consumers were found to suffer from banner blindness. This is where people browsing the internet develop a habit of visually ignoring ads they feel are redundant or not placed optimally, such as in places that are not relevant to what the ad is for.

Lack of Rapport with Media Vendors

A professional media buyer needs to have existing relationships with media vendors in order to be successful.

Unfortunately, there are countless subpar freelance media buying professionals in the current job market. A lot of them have a mediocre track record of effective business relationships with vendors, and many are even blacklisted from local media vendor networks. 

Rapport with media vendors is much more important for freelance buyers than those working as part of a larger marketing team. This is because a freelance professional often takes their business connections with them to the next one-off contract they sign. 

For example, a freelance media buyer may have a few dedicated vendors in mind from whom they have been buying advertising space. They could gain commissions for providing revenue to the media providers, and vice versa.

None of this can happen if the buyer has poor negotiation skills, is unable to sell their company’s campaign well enough, or is generally unable to convince the vendor that forming a relationship with them (and the host company) would be in their best financial interests. 

No Proven Record of Past Performance

Although a performance record may not be the only indicator of natural negotiating and sales talent, it is always beneficial to have some proof that the person you are about to hire has what it takes to get you some actual returns for your marketing spend. 

Despite the necessity of knowing what the candidates have been proven to be capable of, this is an area that often gets muddy for employers. 

Clever candidates can always falsify records and create fake analytics pages that show good ad performance over a certain period of time. If the candidate claims that they never had much contact with the management at their previous employer, there may be no way of finding out their actual performance on the job. 

Once again, the sheer number of people applying for freelance media buying gigs complicates things even further, and if you don’t have a group that can vet candidates, you may end up hiring someone who could potentially tank your entire campaign. 

This proves the importance of:

  • Having a decent vetting process.
  • Looking for proven performance records. 

Final Thoughts

The majority of media buyers fail to deliver adequate results. Because of the complicated and competitive nature of the promotional media market, a lot of companies have a hard time finding the right professional for the job.

No business owner wants to make a bad hire, especially for a position this important. This is why you need to upgrade your hiring criteria when looking for a freelance media buyer.

Alternatively, you can work with us at to hire highly trained freelance media buyers with years of expertise and proven track records. All of our media buyers go through a rigorous testing and vetting process that ensures greater trust and transparency regarding the professional.

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