Career Discovery: What Is a Media Planner?Career Discovery: What Is a Media Planner?Career Discovery: What Is a Media Planner?

A marketing company secures a contract to help sell an eco-friendly electric car built by a startup company. There’s one minor snag — the company doesn’t have a very big marketing budget. The initial product launch is a huge deal for the company, which is hoping to generate a large amount of revenue from the product. However, if the cars don’t sell, the company could be in trouble, so it needs a smart marketing plan that maximizes returns and profits. A good marketing strategy considers individual customers and the market at large. It takes a professional who understands everything from marketing psychology to brand placement and strategy to get the job done.

Luckily, the startup hired a marketing company with a terrific media planner. With ads and other curated media reaching the right customers, the vehicle’s sales take off, changing the face of the automobile industry and helping the planet. The media planner is one of the people responsible for this success. But what is a media planner? What’s the required educational background? And what does the job entail? Continue reading to find out.

A media planner reviews content with her team.

Who Are Media Planners?

What is a media planner? They are marketing specialists who know how to get the most return on investment when it comes to placing advertisements and promotions. It’s a job that requires knowledge in two specific subject areas: market research and advertising reach.

Media planners understand the audience for a product or service and how those consumers shop. They know, for example, that the marketing required for a device designed for working parents differs from the marketing for a video game designed for teenagers. These demographics watch different television shows, visit different websites, and consume different media. Media planners are able to budget for different ads on multiple platforms and anticipate their impact. With the proper strategy, media planners can maximize exposure to the right audience and create a large return on a relatively small investment.

Their specific responsibilities include creating a media mix for their clients, coordinating ads with others in their company, and monitoring and evaluating the success of advertising campaigns. Media planners work in advertising and marketing agencies, financial institutions, and publishing firms, as well as in other industries that require public outreach and marketing abilities.

How to Become a Media Planner

Becoming a media planner requires developing different skills and getting the right education. There’s no such thing as a media planning degree, so those who want to get into the field need to do some work outside of the classroom to acquire skills and knowledge in the real world. Many who aspire to a position as a media planner pursue communications or marketing degrees and then further hone their skills in internships and entry-level positions.

Get the Right Education

Media planners need to understand the changing media landscape. A great way to develop that knowledge is through a degree such as Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Arts in Communication. Students in this program learn about digital media, strategic communication, and social media campaigns. Through their coursework, they explore media and acquire skills in research, visual design, media relations, and decision-making.

Round Out Your Skill Set

Graduates of a communications program need to make sure they have market analysis abilities to succeed as a media planner. Entry-level work or an internship in a marketing company allows students and graduates to acquire skills related to media planning and then begin the transition when they feel ready. What a media planner does often requires experience in such an environment. Through entry-level work, aspiring media planners continue developing skills in negotiation, collaboration, and IT, as well as flex their creativity and imagination.

Explore the Rise of Digital Media

The first media planners had limited options for advertising placement: magazines, newspapers, radio, and billboards, with few alternatives. The rise of the digital world has completely revolutionized the way media and marketing firms operate. People are now able to consume hyper-focused media, from websites and apps to niche YouTube channels, which means advertisements can target audiences with increasing precision.

Digital media requires analysis to gain insights from the numbers available on the back end of digital outlets, such as impressions, views, and click-throughs. Media planners of the 21st century must often conduct their own research to know whether consumers will see their advertising content.

Get Started with Maryville University

What media planners do requires in-depth knowledge of media in its many forms, as well as an understanding of how digital media and social media will continue to change advertising in the future. Find out how Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Arts in Communication can help you take the first steps toward becoming a media planner, driving success for brands in an evolving media landscape.

Recommended Readings

Future Communications Trends: An In-Depth Look

The Future of Media: Concepts and Trends for Communication Professionals


AdWeek, “What Media Planners Can Do About Dramatically Shifting Video Viewing Habits”

The Balance Careers, “What Does a Media Planner Do?”

Houston Chronicle, “The Salary of a Media Planner or Account Executive”

Maryville University, Online Bachelor of Arts in Communication

Medium, “What Is a Comm Planner vs. a Media Planner vs. a Brand Planner vs. a Digital Strategist?”

PayScale, Average Media Planner Salary

The Register, “Facebook Flat Out ‘Lies’ About How Many People Can See Its Ads”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Market Research Analysts

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