What Is An Online Media Planner?

What Is An Online Media Planner?

I just returned from a family reunion where I was voted "most likely to confuse people when he explains what he's been doing with his life." After a day long experience of having to explain my job to everyone, I decided that not everyone is clear on what exactly an Online Media Planner does, or that he is really an Internet Strategist.


Media planners have to play different roles for each client, but I want to attempt to sum up the role the online media planner should have today. There are two types, the agency planner who needs to follow agency philosophy and "think inside the box" and the other is the independent consultant. The Independent consultant typically works with clients who have less to invest in a "Media Planner" and therefore need someone who is flexible and can think "outside the box"

Basically, the Online Media Planner interfaces on a client's behalf with other media. In many cases, these are advertising relationships, but they can also be marketing, public relations or business relationships of another nature. If the Media Planner needs to provide technical services, such as website design, hosting solutions, scripting, software implementation, etc, he is then an Internet Strategist.

The Online Media Planner's responsibility is to find the most efficient ways to reach or exceed the client's business goals and to know how to implement them. These goals typically include traffic generation and conversion to sales ratios. efficiency has a direct correlation to ROI, or return on investment. Is the Media Planner that sends your site 100 users and 10 sales as efficient as the Media Planner that sends your site 20 users and 10 sales.

To achieve these goals, the Online Media Planner must have a diverse array of skills. Some are interesting. Some are boring, but all are necessary.

Number 1: The Online Media Planner must have passion for his profession and for the client's objective. He needs vision, as with out vision, the objective cannot be seen and will never be met. He must play at his job, by that; he must enjoy what he does. If the job is a burden and something he does not look forward to and also enjoy, he will most likely fail. He must believe in the success of the client's product or service. If he does not believe in the client's success, how could he believe in his own?

Number 2: If your dealing with an agency, technological ability may not be as crucial for the planner. Generally there is a staff to handle the technological challenges and implementation of his Media Plan. But as an Independent Consultant and Internet Strategist, we need to know how to implement the media programs. This usually requires some coding and scripting ability or at least an under standing of how the programs work. Knowledge of what is possible or simplest to implement on a technological level can save the client reams of money and implementation time. The more complicated a program, the longer the set up time and the bigger the chance it won't work or will break.

Number 3: It is expected of the Media Planner to know all the latest trends in online marketing. They need to know what new systems are coming into place, as well as what has worked well in the past. There should be a so called proprietary "Bag of Tricks" that your planner can bring to the table. Clients, check out your planners previous successes. Find out what associations that belong to and weather they actively participate. Check online for blog and articles that they may have authored.

Number 4: The Media Planner as an informant. Many clients expect you to know how well campaigns performed for others in the industry. They want you to tell them the clients competitors spending levels, ad formats, contracts, performance metrics, CPMs and media levels. When you don't know the answer they feel that you arent knowledgeable. The media planner needs to protect his client's information and the information of the competitor. You need to build the trust of your client relationship. If the client is smart, He will respect this as he generally would not appreciate it if the planner shared his information with others.

Number 5: The Media Planner needs to perform metric evaluations of the client's media programs. There are many tools available to measure the success of a media plan. Reach, frequency, CPMs, unique users, page views, cost per click, cost per sale are just some of the metrics that need to be evaluated on reported to the media buyer. The smart planner will work within the clients budget and will insure a ROI (return on investment) for the clients advertising dollars and adjust the media plan accordingly as they progress. The Media Planner needs to constantly test all links, graphics and codes to make sure that they are implemented and maintained correctly.

Number 6: The Media Planners clients want results, and they want those results cheap. Planners many times are expected to drive the cost of media buys down to the point where neither the buyer nor the seller of the adverting media has a chance of turning a profit. The successful planner makes all of the "deals" air and profitable for all parties involved. If everyone can come out a winner, everyone will be happy and willing to work together. The Media Planners that have the negotiating skills to build trust and bring the needed solution provider together with a client, regardless of the client's resources, is the kind of media planner you want to work with. There needs to be something in the deal for everybody.

Number 7: A Media Planner needs to be will "networked" in the field. Relationship building is an art. Typically you want a media planner that personally knows everyone in the industry. That just isn't possible at all times, especially in the advertising/ media world as personnel are in a constant state of flux, moving form one company or to another position on a regular basis. The Media Planner must know how to make contacts, initiate business relationships and quickly build trust.

Also, research. The Media Planner as an Internet Strategist needs to also make sure that his client can handle success. Is the clients business scalable? Can the client get enough product to fill there orders? Can the service handle a sudden influx of thousands of users? Does the website have enough bandwidth? The successful Media Planner/Internet Strategist insures his success won't be compromised by the clients failures. His success is the clients success, but the clients failures and short comings are shared with him. The Media Planner/Internet Strategist chooses his clients well.