Advertising media planner

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Pauline Green has to negotiate the best advertising space and business rates for her clients. As a media planner and buyer, she is responsible for choosing and booking the most effective advert space in magazines and newspapers, on TV and radio, on billboards and on the internet.

What is the role of a media planner/buyer?

To plan, negotiate and buy advertising space on behalf of their clients. The client gives us a brief, which includes information on their target audience, budget and timing, and we come up with the most effective media schedule. I work for Brilliant Independent Media in Leeds, an advertising agency specialising in media planning and buying.

Describe a typical project you have worked on?

One of our clients produces clothing and accessories for outdoor pursuits. I recently put together an advertising proposal for its autumn campaign, which included a mixture of lifestyle magazines and national press supplements. I am now buying the advertising space for this campaign.

How do you choose the right media?

I start by using special research tools to help me choose the most appropriate media. I look at the target audience and what their media consumption habits are – do they watch a lot of television, for example, or are they more likely to be heavy internet users.

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Once I have identified the suitable media types, I can match individual newspapers, magazines, radio stations and so on to the target audience.

How does the client decide where to advertise?

I put together a short proposal for the client, including the reasons behind the media recommendations and a summary of target audience coverage, total cost and so on. Once the client has approved my proposal, I negotiate the cost of the advertising space with the media sales contact at the various publications.

Do you need good negotiation skills?

Absolutely. The booking rates fluctuate in line with supply and demand, so there is no fixed price like buying an item from a shop, for instance. We aim to negotiate the lowest possible price.

After the campaign, I measure the success of the advertising based on the agreed campaign objectives such as increased brand awareness or sales. We use what we've learnt when planning further advertising campaigns.

What is your working environment like?

There are 56 people in the company and we work in an open plan environment in city centre offices. A large part of our working day is spent on the phone liaising with sales contacts and clients and it's a very lively atmosphere.

Do you use any tools or equipment?

My essential tools are my PC, telephone and calculator. We also use research directories and the internet.

What do you enjoy most about the job?

The most enjoyable part of the job for me is negotiating the best possible rates on behalf of the client and putting together a successful advertising campaign, which delivers results for their business.

What is the most difficult part of the job?

While I do enjoy it, negotiating rates can be one of the most difficult tasks. Media sales teams have targets to hit and want to generate as much money as possible, whilst our objective is to negotiate the lowest possible price.

What skills do you need?

I work with figures every day, so a good level of mathematical skill is essential. You also need to pay attention to detail, and have good people skills.

Pauline's route to her job

  • GCSEs.
  • Secretarial job in a media agency.
  • Promotion to trainee media buyer.

Pauline's media planning tips

  • Go into further education if you can as it provides the most effective starting point if you want a career rather than just a job.
  • Seek out work experience – it'll give you an insight into the working environment and responsibilities.

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Salary of an advertising media planner

  • Salaries vary enormously, depending on the size of the agency, location and the account planner's experience.
  • London agencies usually offer the highest salaries.
  • Graduates entering an agency as a media planner or buyer can earn around £15,000 a year (more in London).
  • Employees with about five years' experience can earn between £27,000 and £33,000.
  • Account directors can earn over £60,000 a year.

How to become an advertising media planner

  • Some planners and buyers work their way up from other agency positions perhaps in administration – or come from media sales jobs.
  • The Communications and Marketing Education Foundation (CAM) runs six Advanced Certificate courses. To get on a course you need at least five GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3), although many students have a degree. You can also study the programme part-time, once you've joined an agency.
  • The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, the industry's trade body, encourages its agency members to become accredited under their Continuous Professional Development standard. These agencies offer an induction programme for new staff to access a range of courses and qualifications.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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