Media Planner – Job Description


Media planners are crucial players in the advertising and marketing industry.  Essentially, these individuals are tasked with maximizing returns on advertising activities across various media platforms.  The role of a media planner is frequently combined with that of a media buyer, however larger businesses often employ separate individuals for this function.

Media planners are responsible for analyzing data, thinking creatively and dreaming up advanced strategies to be certain marketing and advertising campaigns reach the ideal target audience in the best way possible.  At essence, these professionals assess the impact and suitability of different kinds of media for targeting a particular market which their client wishes to reach.

Media planners gather and analyze information regarding various media channels.  They may specialize in a particular media vehicle, however many provide insight across the entire media spectrum, such as newspapers, magazines, radio, television (both broadcast and cable), digital and outdoor media (like billboards and transit advertising).  Data is examined with respect to consumer behavior, circulation, audience trends and the potential impact of various methods.  They tend to be numbers and data enthusiasts, and enjoy the prospect of extensive research to aide in their efforts.

Armed with this important analysis, media planners devise or recommend strategies for utilizing specific media effectively to attract and retain customers, increase brand awareness, and maintain consumer loyalty and satisfaction.  There can also be a need to drive a call to action for a more immediate or dated objective such as event marketing.  These efforts can require a different path than campaigns simply to build a name.

Media planners will need to work closely with their clients, understand their wants, needs and goals and then make the essential decisions concerning what medias should be used for specific campaigns.  Acquiring measures for success from the client is a key factor, to ensure that benchmarks are clearly defined.  The client time frame will also play a main role in how the planner ultimately constructs their recommendation.

Client budget will be an important factor in a media planner’s ultimate plan.  Without a budget threshold or range, recommendations will be just that.  With a set dollar amount for a given campaign, a  more thorough and reasonable proposal for allocation of spend can be determined.  The scale of reach for the spend can also be more accurately portrayed in initial planning.

Media planners also have to work with knowing what creative will be available, and often have to work with a creative team to generate the right message for the targeted audience.  If the creative is already established, this works in reverse.

Once media outlets are determined, media planners operate alongside a media-buyer to help steer the purchase of specific advertising slots and spaces.  Occasionally these roles are combined in to one individual in order to keep things streamlined within an organization.  These planners often use a media planning tool or media planning software to work out best strategies before buying.


There are no set qualifications to become a media planner, but most entrants have a degree in a relevant topic, such as advertising, marketing, business management or media studies. Statistics, mathematics or other related degrees are also relevant. Creative ability and enthusiasm for media channels are qualities that impress employers.

Training is usually on the job. Some larger advertising agencies may offer structured graduate training programs. Media research organizations frequently run industry specific workshops that can assist planners to make best use of their data.

There are many individual qualities that make for a successful media planner:

  • excellent research skills
  • ability to recognize and analyze opportunities
  • negotiating confidence
  • teamwork and interpersonal skills
  • general interest in media and consumer motivation
  • flair for business and commerce
  • logical thinking
  • good written and spoken communication skills
  • general computer knowledge
  • ability to multi-task
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