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How to Become a Media/Advertising Sales

Companies constantly seek more precise ways to connect with their customers. With television, radio, physical ads, print publication, online media, and more, there’s virtually no end to the types of ads a company can opt for. So how do they go about spending money on ads they know will be effective?

With the help of media and advertising sales representatives, companies can more confidently investigate the methods of reaching their target audience. These experts compile and produce data for client companies, and showcase strategies and methods to better improve their marketing. 

As one of these sales representatives, you’ll be expected to possess strong networking abilities and even stronger presentation skills. Having good analytical skills is great alongside problem-solving skills. You’ll be expected to maintain strong relationships with your clients, and continue investigating ways to make their marketing tactics more successful.

Sample job description

[Your Company Name] is hiring an advertising sales representative to help grow our client base and keep our existing clients happy. Working in advertising sales requires a go-getter attitude, excellent communication skills, and the ability to research demographics to understand a target audience. You will be responsible for identifying potential clients, explaining how advertisements can benefit a client, and answering any questions they may have. Advertising sales representatives are crucial in getting the word about products and services in front of the right people to help businesses grow and thrive. Initiative and self-confidence is an absolute must.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Identify potential customers
  • Develop professional relationships and business networks
  • Explain specific details about how different ad placements and options can benefit a client 
  • Seek out and network with new potential prospects
  • Give sales presentations
  • Deliver proofs of advertisements to clients

Education and experience

This position requires a high school diploma or its equivalent. However, some companies may prefer agents to have a bachelor’s degree, preferably in disciplines like advertising, marketing, business, and communications.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Written and verbal communication skills, including relationship-building and influencing
  • Expertise in negotiation skills
  • Ability to interpret market and demographic research data and create reports for clients
  • Working knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite or similar software, including spreadsheets and databases
  • Strong sense of organization and time management

Preferred qualifications

  • Strong verbal and written communication and presentation skills, with emphasis on engagement and persuasion
  • Ability to manage deadlines and to operate with a sense of urgency

Typical work environment

Media and advertising sales representatives spend a lot of their time traveling in order to meet with advertisers and clients. Some people in advertising sales may work within an office environment meeting with walk-in clients or answering email and phone inquiries. 

Typical hours

The typical work hours for a media/advertising sales representative are from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday.

Available certifications

A certification in media and advertising sales is recommended to compete with others in this highly sought-after industry. Here are the most popular certification programs:

  • IAB Digital Media Sales Certification (DMSC). The IAB Digital Media Sales Certification establishes your credibility in the world of digital media sales. This exam consists of 100 questions covering the digital advertising ecosystem, selling digital advertising solutions, managing digital advertising campaigns, and evaluating performance. Once you’ve been awarded a DMSC certificate, it must be renewed every 2 years.
  • IAB Digital Media Buying and Planning Certification (DBPC). This IAB certification is for professionals who want to prove that they can excel in developing media objectives, creating strategic digital media plans, and optimizing campaign performance. The exam for this certification must be completed within 2 hours and you have to renew your certification every 2 years.
  • PPAI Trained Advertising Specialist (TAS). Earning this certificate requires you to currently be employed with a promotional products company. You will have to pass all of the courses in the Trained Advertising Specialist package to achieve certification. At that point you can upgrade your certification by becoming a Certified, Master, and Master Plus Advertising Specialist. There is no recertification required.

Career path

This position requires a high school diploma or its equivalent. However, some companies may prefer agents to have a bachelor’s degree. Coursework in sales, business, marketing, advertising, communications, and related subjects can be attractive to potential employers looking to hire media/advertising sales representatives. Entry-level representatives often train on the job under a more experienced sales manager.

Successful media/advertising sales representatives can often be promoted to sales managers, supervising a team of sales representatives. From there, depending on the size of the company, they can be promoted to supervise sales for an entire geographic area or group of publications.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 41-3011

2020 Employment115,100
Projected Employment in 2030118,700
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 3% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift3,600 increase

According to the advertising software company ADvendio, spending on digital advertising, such as websites and social media, is expected to increase in the coming years. One trend shaping the industry is the increasing amount of advertising money companies are spending on digital video advertising, especially on over-the-top (OTT) streaming services that play ads. This increased spend in the digital space would continue the move away from traditional advertising such as print, television, and radio. Another trend in the media advertising space is the move toward digital billboard space, increasing advertising inventory for companies who sell outdoor advertising.