You Got This! Advice for Rookie Media Planners

If you’re reading this article, let us first congratulate you on choosing a career in media (or at least thinking about one). You’ve picked one of the most fast-paced, high-pressure and influential industries out there. Jim Morrison didn’t say, “whoever controls the media, controls the mind” for nothing. And as a media planner, you’re considered a primary gatekeeper between the masses and much of the content they see, hear and read everyday.

Pandora spends a lot of time with media planners, advising on how their brands can create meaningful connections with Pandora listeners. (Plus, many of us at Pandora for Brands started our own careers at agencies.) So, we’ve compiled our top tips for killing it as a media planner and setting the stage for a rewarding media career:

Ask a lot of questions.

This might seem like a holdover from college, but asking lots of questions is even more important in the workplace. Unless you studied media in college, the initial learning curve is quite steep. Evaluating media and placing buys requires an entirely new terminology, and this industry loves its acronyms! From CPM and CPC, to ROI and GRP, there’s going to be times when you find yourself thinking, “what are these people talking about??” So read books, follow influencers, attend lunches and ask those questions! It’ll take time for you to feel comfortable in your new role, but before you know it you’ll be thinking about the media you’re used to in a whole new way.

Be trendy, but smart.

Trendy-smart? Smart-trendy? However you want to say it, it’s critical that media planners stay on top of industry trends–but that doesn’t mean common sense should go out the window. Big brands will always want what’s new, what’s popular and what hasn’t been done before–and, as the planner, it’s your duty to study media habits and identify those opportunities. However, it’s important to not get too carried away with trends, because “new” may not always be what’s “best” for the client (“shiny object syndrome” is real). Cultivate a thorough understanding of your brand’s target audience and goals–that should be your filter for evaluating and selecting media. Despite what some might say, advertising isn’t only about reaching the masses, it’s also about reaching as many people in your client’s target demographic as frequently as possible, with the clearest message and for the best price.

If you do nothing else, master excel.

Many media planners stumble into the career from a liberal arts background, which is all well and good, except that degrees in history, English, sociology and foreign languages leave little room for number crunching and Excel training. As the person responsible for comparing platforms and negotiating buys, you will spend much of your day in Excel. Be ready to dive in and learn because successful media planners must complete advanced tasks like PivotTables and VLOOKUPs to keep multiple data sources organized and in one place. But don’t be too alarmed! Luckily, it’s easy once you get the formulas down and know how to plug the appropriate numbers in.

Now you’re ready…

Media planning is an exciting career–and one that sits on the front lines of major transformations happening across the industry. A lot of automation is coming your way. From programmatic to machine learning, media agencies are tapping these new technologies to create efficiency across the planning and buying processes, freeing up human brainpower to handle the more nuanced aspects of the job like relationship building, and managing various vendors and systems. Becoming an expert in client relationships and cultivating a deep understanding of how automated systems work, you’ll be setting yourself up for a lifelong career in media.

We’re rooting for you, rookie!

Did you know that half of time spent listening to audio has shifted to digital? If you’re trying to make a splash with your next media buy, digital audio might be just the thing. To learn more about the state of audio advertising today and the various opportunities in digital audio, download our free eBook, the Definitive Guide to Audio.

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