In Praise of Media Planners

Media Architects, Investment Consultants, Comms Navigators, or Campaign Visionaries…. it’s time to claim your fancy label.

Effective media planners have always needed self-confidence. Now do they also need a new name?

I’m not sure I am qualified to write this article. Forgive my imposter syndrome, but I’ve never actually been a Media Planner.

I started my career many years ago as a TV Buyer – and in my early days most people in media agencies were largely split into two camps – the planners and the buyers.

That got me thinking. Maybe it’s time Media Planning got a rebrand – because over the last decade or so, people don’t really say they are Media Buyers anymore. Media Buyers now work in activation, investment, trading, or even commercial teams. Research teams developed themselves into Insight teams. Data teams now employ engineers and scientists. And yet Media Planning has stayed, well, Media Planning.

That’s not to say the role itself hasn’t changed. It has. Media Planning is a crucial role and absolutely critical at driving advertising effectiveness. Maximising the effectiveness of advertising expenditure for clients is a huge responsibility. Media Planners are the people who have to make sense of all the data and translate it into meaningful and actionable insights.

Good Media Planners unlock new audiences for clients, they drive competitive advantage by finding new and different routes to market. They have to understand clients’ business models, understand the nuances of individual brands, understand how the creative messaging fits with the strategy – and that’s before they get to the big stuff of advising on investment strategies.

Jenny Biggam, Founder, the7stars

All of which requires creativity and curiosity. It also requires incredible people skills because planners sit at the centre of the media agency, drawing from the skillsets of specialist teams around them. And finally, it requires confidence.

When you are navigating an infinite number of channel and platform choices, in a world where you can reach any audience at any time in any location, and you are the person making the big calls, you need heaps of self-confidence.

Which is why it’s a bit of a surprise that the Media Planning gurus haven’t rebranded themselves. Media Architects, Investment Consultants, Comms Navigators, or Campaign Visionaries…. it’s time to claim your fancy label.

Jenny Biggam is the founder of the7stars and gave the keynote address at the IPA’s Media Planning & Strategy Summit 2023.

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Last updated 01 May 2024