Digital media sales careers advice
Welcome to the wonderful world of digital media. This guide should help you make a considered decision about your future in this rapidly growing medium.
We have broken your potential future career down into four very popular sectors, and have provided information on the different job options available to you. We've also provided some advice for those of you going into Uni or just finishing. There are a number of extremely rewarding paths that you can take, but where on earth do you start!?
Fresh out of Uni
The vast majority of digital companies, be they agency or brand side, will be looking for their graduate intake to be extremely passionate about the digital space. Equipping your self with a degree in marketing (possibly with a digital slant to it) or completing some work experience in a digital agency can prove very useful when looking for a way in. Other degrees that can be extremely useful include more analytical courses such as Business Information Systems, and those concerned with human behaviour such as Psychology.
If you don't have one of these then there is no need to worry, many graduate jobs within digital media simply require a degree from a reputable University and a shed load of drive, ambition, and interview preparation!
OK, you have the degree, you have done all the prep you can, now for the big choice; which digital media direction is right for you?
Digital Media Sales
A very big part of the industry and a great way to get started, online sales can also be a very lucrative career move. Client facing and hungry grads can expect to start on £18-£20K in a sales position. Selling online advertising space into the media agencies is a popular choice for many, with advertising networks such as Adconion, Advertising.com, and Drivepm offering excellent training grounds. These are fast paced and target driven environments, where targets are continually being worked towards. They also offer the opportunity to earn good money with a successful agency sales person earning around twice their basic as OTE (on target earnings).
Alternatively, look at getting into the media sales team at an established brand. The major publishers offer excellent opportunities and training to grads in sales roles. A lot of very successful people in digital have come from a publisher sales background!
Career progression can be relatively rapid in a sales environment and is generally dependent on achievement rather than hard years experience. A successful sales account executive should aim to become an account manager within 1 year to 18 months. The step to sales director is a much greater one, and most sales directors have at least 5 years online sales experience.
This is an integral sector within online advertising. Online is all about measurability and if you choose to head in this direction then you will be sat right at the frontline accounting for all those millions spent on digital advertising each year! Ad Operations (or trafficking) also gives you an extremely good understanding of how digital advertising works, this can be invaluable in any future career moves.
This area is ideally suited to those grads who emerge from Uni with an analytical degree, the BIS degree mentioned earlier is ideal. Trafficking positions involve reporting on the performance of online ad campaigns, pulling meaningful trends out of various sets of data that can be used to construct reports for internal teams or external clients. An ability to use Excel to an advanced level is always a bonus if you want to be a trafficker/Ad Op's assistant.
A junior trafficker at a marketing solutions company, agency, or media owner can expect to earn between £18-£21K. After this, progression to a senior trafficker or campaign co-ordinator will follow, with those career traffickers aiming for a Head of Operations position after around 4-6 years.
Everyone wants to get into marketing, and this makes it tough! Getting into the marketing team at an established brand is no mean feat. Passage into these positions can take some time and nearly always requires previous experience.
One of the best paths into a client side online marketing role is to get on to a graduate recruitment program. Most of the major brands run these, and while obviously competitive, they can offer a fantastic career path. You will need to show a real passion for the brand in order to be successful, and will have to start applying sometime in your final year of study or risk missing the intake for another 12 months. Graduate recruitment schemes generally pay quite well these days.
Another route in is via an online marketing position in a smaller company, 1 years experience in search engine marketing / affiliate / display / email can make you a very attractive candidate for those big spending brands. Getting into a smaller company can be easier and the positions more varied, giving you a invaluably broad marketing skill set.
Once you are on the marketing career path you can expect it to take you from Online Marketing Executive (22-30K), through Online Marketing Manager (£30-£50K), to Online Marketing Director (£50K +). Pay can vary according to the organisation.
The agency world
So you have decided the agency world is for you? Soho parties, and jolly's from the media owners. Well, also expect to work some long hours, in very demanding, but extremely rewarding roles.
The Media Agencies represent a major group of graduate employers in the digital industry. They will give you the opportunity to learn enormous amounts about digital as a media channel, and with increasing agency integration, an extremely important and topical understanding of how digital relates to, and interacts with, other media channels to deliver results to the client.
The vast majority of graduate positions in agencies sit within the planning and buying teams. These teams put together media schedules for clients and then go out and negotiate the purchase of the appropriate media. These roles can traditionally be split into:
Some agencies have specialist teams dealing with one of the above disciplines, others group them together. Some agencies themselves specialise in solely display / search engine marketing / affiliate / email. The career paths however remain relatively similar.
A graduate entering a media/specialist agency will go in as an account executive (£18-£20K), and work their way towards an Account Manager position (£28-£40K). Account Directors (£45-£60K) generally have upwards of 4 years experience.
The emergence of new digital channels in the age of web 2.0 also means that new positions are starting to pop up in agency land. The demand for a measurable advertising channel to be born out of the social networks for example means that agencies are continuously adapting to the nuances of the market. This can make for some very interesting career paths within this sector of the digital industry.