Also known as...
Communications Planner; Media Strategist.
The role in brief...
Media Planners develop strategies that determine which media channels should be used to communicate with a client’s target audience. These strategies flow from the brand’s communications strategy and often need to be developed in conjunction with the client’s creative agency. The resulting media plans are informed by quantitative and qualitative research data sources. Media Planners usually work in media agencies or integrated agencies, but are sometimes employed by creative agencies too. In larger agencies, media buying and planning are separate departments, but in some agencies the planning and buying functions are combined in one role.
- Internal: Media Account Director; Media Buyers; Insight Executives.
- External: Client marketing team; Other agencies on their client’s roster e.g. Creative, Public Relations; Media research organisations; Media owners.
- Media Planners will usually report to a Media Planning Director or Media Account Director. Those at more senior levels in larger agencies may have management or supervision responsibility for junior Media Planners or Insight Executives.
- Researching and analysing data to understand the client’s target audience and the best ways to reach them through a variety of media channels.
- Creating media plans which detail and justify the media channels to be used.
- Working with Media Buyers to ensure that media plans are feasible.
- Presenting media plans to the client and later keeping them informed of the campaign’s progress.
- Working with the buying team to ensure media plan is executed on time and to budget.
- Maintaining a good working relationship with the client’s other roster agencies throughout the planning and delivery of the campaign, in particular the creative agency to make sure the advertising is placed correctly and on time.
- Analysing and reporting back on campaign effectiveness.
- Keeping track and reporting on of industry developments relevant to their accounts, including the activity of key competitors.
- Maintaining a detailed awareness of relevant media research and new opportunities within different media channels.
- Involved in recruitment and selection decisions.
Those who succeed are...
- Analytical and strategic thinkers.
- Numerate and able to understand, interpret and use complex and varied sources of data and statistics.
- Strong communicators, able to simplify and explain complex plans and strategic thinking.
- Well organised, with strong attention to detail and proficient at Excel.
- Well informed about trends in media research and technological developments, and pro-active in translating these into new opportunities for clients.
- Knowledgeable about their client’s business and market, and where and how advertising contributes to success.
- Focused on the personal and professional development of their team.
Where they come from, and where they go...
Media Planners often start work as graduates within media agencies, although apprenticeships offer another route into the role. Many will start in a combined Junior Media Planner/Buyer role, and rotate through different departments, before specialising in planning once some experience has been gained.
At larger agencies this is done via formal graduate recruitment schemes, typically on an annual basis. Media Planners can also be taken on following agency apprenticeship schemes where there is no requirement for a degree, although A-Levels, or equivalent are still expected. For more information visit Creative Pioneers Advertising and Media Executive Apprenticeship.
Some may specialise further, for example as Social Media Planners. Those that are successful can then go on to become Senior Media Planners, Media Account Directors or Media Planning Directors. Others may choose to specialise further in particular areas (e.g. Insight) while some may move to strategic planning roles in other types of advertising agency.