Jobs in the advertising industry declined during the recession of 2008-2010, but now appear to be increasing again. Looking at the advertising jobs of the future, we believe media will dominate job growth. Available jobs will involve media planning, buying, and sales for both traditional and new media. Integrated communications will be key.
In terms of job opportunities, there are three basic functions which media professionals perform to connect ad messages with target markets: media planning, buying, and sales. To prepare for an advertising job, job seekers should develop a good understanding of media planning, media buying, and media sales for both traditional and digital media. (The future is integrated marketing and media.)
1. Media Planning
Media planning is the process of developing an effective media strategy and action plan involving use of both traditional and digital media.
The planning process first begins with an analysis of the marketing situation. Then, second, based on marketing priorities, media objectives are formulated that detail exactly what the media plan is supposed to accomplish, for example, including the definition and prioritization of target audiences the media plan must reach.
Third,strategies are formulated which will most effectively accomplish the media objectives. Finally, based on the media strategies, a detailed tactical plan is developed.
The media strategy and action plan incorporate the right media classes, the right media vehicles, the right geographic markets, the right timing, the right budget, the right number of advertising exposures, in the right media contexts, and so on. In so doing, media planning contemplates how traditional, digital, alternative, and marketing services media can help best address marketing problems or capitalize on marketing opportunities.
The end result of the process is a media plan, often called the tactical plan. The media plan details the recommendations and detailed rationale for all media activities and spending. For example, the plan may propose the use of magazines as the important medium for some particular advertising. The recommendation would include how much money should be spent in magazines vs. other media, in which months or weeks ads should be scheduled, and, of course, which specific magazines are most cost effective and best meet the magazine selection criteria.
Of course, media plans must also include other proposed media/marketing activities such as geographic market areas which should receive supplemental media spending, how often the consumer should be reached with advertising, as well as how the advertising should be scheduled throughout the year or planning period.
A media planner is someone who develops or supervises the development of media plans through a rigorous media planning process. The media planner may occupy any level in the organization; responsibility, not title, defines the job.
Now, imagine that you are a media planner. You have $3 million to market your product to male beer drinkers. An analysis of media alternatives for reaching this audience suggests these three potential strategies.
1. If you bought one:30 spot in the Super Bowl for $3 million, you would reach almost 33% of male beer drinkers all at the same time.
2. If you bought fifteen:30 spots on male-oriented, primetime, network TV programs, you could reach 65% of male beer drinkers more than once with 35% of them reached at least twice.
3. If you spent half your budget for display ads on male-oriented websites and the other half in men’s magazines, you would reach 63% of males twice each, on average, but in different media contexts.
Question: Which option would you choose? Why?
2. Media Buying
Media buying is the second type of job available in advertising and the advertising media area. People who buy media are simply called media buyers. Media buyers may be generalists or may specialize in buying specific media: broadcast or print or digital.
After the media plan has been approved by the client, the media included in the plan must be purchased from the media sellers. Buying is the process of identifying the preferred media vehicles, then negotiating with selling media to reach a satisfactory price and other important terms and conditions. The transaction is called a media buy, and the person who negotiated the transaction with the seller is called a media buyer.
Typically included in the list of negotiable items are price, additional time or space units, positioning of the ad or commercial within the media vehicle, inclusion of higher quality and more effective media vehicles, and value added features such as billboards (broadcast), turnkey promotions, merchandising assistance, programs to involve sales force and customers, and so on.
You might be a buyer with a budget and instructions to buy a specific display ad on the home page of a major search engine, for example. You find that the budget is sufficient to buy an ad on the home page of either AOL or Yahoo but not both. You therefore ask each of the sellers to submit a proposal, and you negotiate with both of them until one offers you desirable inventory at an acceptable price. After negotiating with the sellers, you may then select the seller with the lowest price or the best additional enticements. When you have completed the transaction, you have done a media buy!
3. Media Sales
Media sales or selling is the third category of advertising media jobs. All media have sales people who work on the local level selling to local businesses or on the national level selling to national advertisers and advertising agencies. In addition, opportunities exist in media representative firms who often represent media companies in the key markets of the countryt. For example a television station in Hoboken may hire rep firms to do their selling in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Detroit — or where ever.
What is important here is that media sales will likely be the largest employer of people in the advertising industry, and could be considered by those who have interest in advertising, professional selling and has accrued a little bit of experience in the agency business.
If you were the media seller for AOL in the example above, you might propose a media package consisting of X number of clicks to AOL for the one-time-only price of $5 million. But the Yahoo sales rep would be doing the same thing! Your job would be to come up with an offer better than Yahoo’s, including a final price and any other terms and conditions that would induce the media buyer to keep negotiating with you until you can reach a contract.
Media sales persons are usually called media representatives or sales reps. Sales reps may work for the medium (e.g., AOL) or for an independent firm that represents several non-competing media. Sellers communicate with buyers by phone, face-to-face in person or video conference, by mail and e-mail.
“Media Buying & Planning in the 21st Century” is an excellent primer for those looking for a job in advertising or advertising media. The book discusses many career opportunities which will help readers better understand the advertising and media business so that they can pursue media job opportunities more intelligently. The book covers topics from a practical “how to” standpoint, and unlike many media books, explains issues in plain English.