Everything You Need to Know About Media Planner Jobs

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Media planners, also known as brand planners or brand strategists, work at advertising agencies and create ad campaigns for the various clients. The media planner interacts somewhat with the creatives (i.e. the copywriters who create the ad copy whether it's for magazines or billboards) but predominantly they work with clients to help them make decisions about how a particular media campaign will unfold.

A big part of a media planner’s job is to pick the right kinds of places (i.e., the correct TV shows, magazines, websites, etc) to place different ads. The goal is to ensure that the client's product (and by "product" I mean "brand") is advertised to the correct audience.

How to Become a Media Planner

You don’t need any special training or a graduate degree to become a media planner, though many agencies do require a college degree or specialization in a particular area. These areas include communication and media studies, business or management, marketing, advertising, English and journalism, operational research, statistics and other related areas. Ad agencies offer entry level positions and for those still in college, many agencies offer internships. 

Skills Necessary to Land a Job

The main thing a media planner needs is a willingness and eagerness to learn about the world of advertising.

The job can be very social because it entails working with (and entertaining) clients, so an interest in socializing with colleagues and clients is paramount. Also key is an understanding of how marketing and advertising works. The first question to ask yourself is: How can a client -- either a big consumer product company like Starbucks or a national nonprofit service organization like Planned Parenthood -- best brand itself?

From there, media planners must know the entertainment world in depth (from network TV shows like "Good Morning America" on ABC-TV to niche TV shows like "Chopped Junior" on the Food Network). Unless media planners know what kind of audience is attracted to what kind of show, they can't place ads appropriately. And, because the media landscape in the 21st century is vastly different than it was in the 20th century, media planners need to know not just which national TV shows and large magazines and newspapers to target, they also have to be familiar with all the websites, blogs and social media offerings available to consumers.  

Resources for Media Planners and Buyers

To give yourself a competitive edge to either get your first job as a media planner or advance up the ladder, it's a good idea to plug into (and engage with) the top media planners (and buyers) currently employed at ad agencies all over the world. 

  1. AdAge Datacenter: A primary resource for business intelligence and media research. Build up your media buying and planning contacts with profiles of top advertisers, agencies and more!
  2. LinkedIn Sales Navigator: Sales professionals use this navigator to find contacts and get referrals to important media brands.