Media planners

Outline of Job

Media planners use their understanding of the media and audience trends to ensure a clients brand is advertised through the best medium. This may be through television, the internet, radio, or other media platforms. A media planner will use creative thinking and audience data to choose the most appropriate media space. In some agencies the role of media planner is combined with that of a media buyer, and often involves having to work on more than one account at the same time.

Daily Activities

  • Gaining an understanding of the client and their brand
  • Working alongside a media buyer, account executive, and other agency staff
  • Researching audience data
  • Utilizing media adviser services such as the Broadcasters Audience Research Board
  • Giving presentations to clients about costs and campaign tactics
  • Booking advertising space
  • Building a strong list of media contacts
  • Deciding upon the best media space and times to maximise a clients profits
  • Maintaining relations with clients and media organisations
  • Keeping campaign records
  • Monitoring the impact of campaigns

Skills Required

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Bargaining ability
  • Passion for the industry and commercial awareness
  • Ability to build and maintain client and media relations
  • Able to work under pressure and to tight deadlines
  • Competent with IT software, such as spreadsheets and word documents
  • Numerical and writing skills
  • Outgoing personality
  • Organised and professional manner
  • Strong business sense

Expected Earnings & Conditions

The typical starting salary is £18,000 - £24,000, with those having gained 3 to 5 years experience able to earn in the region of £28,000 - £40,000. Those in senior positions can earn a varied amount of £50,000 - £80,000, or more. Salaries vary according to the agency and its locations, as well as individual merits based on earnings. Development to higher levels can be fast, often requiring you to move between agencies, those in London usually offering higher sums of money.

Media planners are often required to work into the evening, or even at weekends, especially if a deadline needs to be met. Freelance work is uncommon but not impossible, some agencies offering flexible working hours. Work is mainly office-based, though you will be expected to travel to meet with clients and other media contacts. Rewards are based on success, making this a high pressure and intense atmosphere to work in.

Most agencies are based in London, with other large cities such as Manchester and Edinburgh housing several agencies. Many agencies are now becoming international in scope, meaning there is the chance to work abroad. Work may eat into social hours due to the need to liaise with clients and media contacts.

Qualifications & Experience Required

A degree in the following would be beneficial to your chances of employment:

  • Statistics
  • Psychology
  • Business or management
  • Media Studies
  • Marketing
  • Advertising

Though a degree is beneficial to your chances of employment actual industry experience is much more valuable. It will show you have initiative, and that you can work as part of a team. With a degree you will likely start in a graduate position, or without, have to work your way up from an administrative role.

Work experience is the most valuable asset that can see you stand out in the crowd. Roles in a sales or customer service environment, for example, would be advantageous. To see available work experience visit the IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) website. Alternately, contact agencies directly after researching the role and agency thoroughly. For any further tips, and to keep up to date with developments in advertising, check out The Media Circle, IPA, and Internet Advertising Bureau websites.

Additional Training & Development

You will likely start in a junior position, learning on the job in areas including marketing methods and analysing audience statistics. Media planners can move up rapidly in the first few years to manager positions, and then later to senior level. After becoming an established media planner you can move into account management or other areas, including data planning if you so wish.

The IPA offers a CPD (Continuous Professional Development) scheme, available to graduates working in advertising, providing them with a structured training system. Other qualifications that can boost your credentials offered by the IPA include the IPA Foundation Certificate, available to those who have gained at least six months experience.

The CAM (Communication Advertising & Marketing Education Council) also offers several courses for further training while working in the advertising industry, as do the MRG (Media Research Group). Developing an understanding of audiences and developments in the media is a necessity as a media planner. The following sites would therefore be informative:

  • Bradgroup
  • Newspaper Society
  • Account Planning Group
  • DART for Advertisers
  • Target Group Index
  • Poster Audience Research
  • Radio Joint Audience Research
  • Broadcasters Audience Research Board
  • National Readership Survey