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Career in media planning

What it is media planning?

Media planning is about creating a plan / strategy for selecting the most appropriate media channels to use in an advertising campaign / in general brand communication.
Traditionally, media planners have focused on researching / understanding: media channels in general (traditional media as well as some parts of new media i.e websites where banners can be placed, email, mobiles phones, and so on), the audience in general (how and when consumers use the media channels, consumer attitudes towards these channels, general consumer behaviour, and so on).

Where it takes place

Media planners can be found in large media organizations; media planning agencies; or in traditional, creative advertising agencies.

Attributes / skills

Research (researching media channels / consumer behaviour on those channels and so on)
Analytical-thinking (analyze the results of research findings and so on)
Statistics (media planning involves a lot of data about audience ratings and so on)
Creative-thinking (coming up with creative insights about consumer behaviour and so on)
Being interested in people (i.e what makes consumers tick)
Team player (working, closely, with account planners, and often strategic planners)
Communications (both written and oral including telephone)
Interested in advertising and media in general


Media planners don’t require any specific qualifications (most degrees, or HNDs, will do – with degrees in media studies, marketing, business studies, and more, being useful but by no means essential).

Getting into media planning

Traineeships/ graduate job opportunities (visit the major media planning companies / agencies that offer media planning, as well as, job boards, employment agencies, and so on).
Try and get a foot in the door of a company / agency that offers media planning services and then try and switch to media planning at a later date.


General experience in marketing / sales would be an advantage
Many companies / agencies that carry out media planning services offer work experience to graduates / undergraduates. Work experience in media planning can be an important advantage for all sorts of reasons: demonstrates commitment / good way of picking up some useful media planning skills / good way of making contacts with people in this industry in general / could lead to a full-time job in that company / agency.

Media buying

Media planning often involves media buying (buying the media advertising space at the best price, and so on). If media planners don’t do media buying, then, they will normally work close with media buyers.

Being aware of the changes in media planning

Media planning has changed significantly in recent years with the emergence of digital media. Although some media planners focus on just traditional media, an increasing number cover both traditional and new media. The kind of areas of new media that media planners cover include: selecting the appropriate websites to place banners, email marketing, electronic ads on mobile phones, and so on. But the internet (and other forms of digital media but in particular the internet) contains a vast range of channels and / or ways of interacting with the internet (search, blogging, social networking, gaming, videos, music, and so on). It is far more of a communications mash than traditional media (in general). Big, bold advertising ideas / approaches used to work well in TV. They still do to an extent. But the internet with its variety of offerings (including interactive ones) often requires a more subtle and, certainly a more holistic, approach in general – an approach that is focused a lot more on branding and how people interact with each other and the web than a more traditional media planning approach. This approach often goes under the job title of communications planner (or brand planner).

Communications planning is similar in many ways to jobs such as account planning (account planning being more focused, generally, on branding than the actual media channels being used / how people use the media – although the difference between account planning and communications planning / media planning is becoming more-and-more indistinguishable ) and web strategy (web strategist being more focused on just the internet).

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One Comment

  1. Hi, I have been writing career related blogs for a while now, and your post has actually helped me while writing the one on media and journalism. Your comments would be appreciated. Regards

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