So, what does a Digital Media Planner do?

Job profiles at Serviceplan

Everyone has seen the ads for smartphones, shoes and Co around the content of public internet portals. But how do those ads get there? That is exactly what digital media planners in media agencies do for a living. A modern profession with great future. Today, two experts from Plan.Net Media will introduce their jobs to us: Johannes Trüdinger, team lead digital media planner and Maike Märtterer, junior digital media planner.

  • Johannes, a classical media planner advises his or her clients in what newspaper, magazine, or tv program it is best to place their ads – what does a digital media planner do?

    Johannes: A digital media planner is responsible for all kinds of digital advertisement, such as display ads…

  • So, that is the kind of advertisement that you would see next to the content of SPIEGEL ONLINE, for example?

    Johannes: …exactly. That is what we call display ads. And then there are Facebook ads, YouTube campaigns and many more. We are in charge of all digital measures that a relevant for our advertising clients. We also evaluate the efficiency of all the measures that we plan. Depending on the campaign goal, the degree of attention per advertising measure must be taken into account, as well.

  • You mentioned efficiency. Can you give us an example for a highly efficient digital media placement?

    Johannes: Sure. Let’s say the client has an online shop. The goal is to advertise for a specific sneaker model, using a banner. A placement, that generates many banner clicks and following sales, would be categorized as highly efficient. A media placement, in which the sales revenue highly exceeds the media invest, is profitable and therefore efficient. We can track every step of the “user journey”.

  • Maike, you started off as a trainee and meanwhile you are a junior digital media planner. Congratulations! What is it, that you like about your job?

    Maike: I think it is the variability. We don’t just do the planning, there is so much more to it. We are consultants that advise our clients. On the other side, we work closely with our colleagues from the creative department. Some creative formats work much better than others, for example. Building and cultivating a great network is very important. Part of the network you need are colleagues from classical media agencies, ad server administrators (note from the editorial staff: ad servers are the main computers, where all digital advertising formats are stored and accessed from by the portals), art directors from creative agencies and online marketers.

  • …online marketers – what kind of people are those?

    Maike: Online marketers deal with the ad spaces of various websites. We buy the ad spaces from them – whether it is for desktop-, tablet- or mobile advertising.

  • I can place display ads on these advertising spaces, for example. Correct?

    Maike: Exactly. Depending on website and online marketer, you can book and place a variety of formats. Those can be display ads, but also video- or special formats. So, if we wanted to place an ad on SPIEGEL ONLINE, for instance, we would book that ad space through an online marketer. If we were to plan placements on and, we would book both of those from one marketer, which in this case is IP.

  • Do you negotiate the prices with those marketers?

    Maike: Exactly. It can totally happen, that the campaign budget is not sufficient for the media and formats that I want to place. In that case, I will have to negotiate better conditions.

  • The job seems to contain many creative aspects.

    Maike: You are totally right, but you also need a high technical understanding of formats and portals in our job. You need to be able to assess whether certain formats are technically possible to even realize. And you need to be technically versed for fault detection, in case a placement isn’t working the way it is supposed to.

    Johannes: There is something called media creativity. A professional approach, in which you are able to work with all the possibilities given by marketers and ad servers of the different portals. Once you have gained a certain level of expertise of those possibilities, you can work creatively with campaign mechanisms. For example, by implementing different aspects of retargeting.

  • May I recap what I think is meant by retargeting: when a user visits different websites with your ads on them – you can analyze the user journey and then send out ads with content that is relevant for that user at that time?

    Johannes: Yes. I can place a video ad to draw attention and awaken a certain desire on one portal. Then I can place a response oriented ad on the next portal, to get the same user to click the ad, get to the landing page and hopefully buy the product.

  • Maike, how do you think that you convinced management that you are the right candidate for the job? Why do you think they went with you?

    Maike: I think that my Master’s Degree in Marketing and various internships in the online sector for different companies and industries helped to get the job. And, I had worked for a marketer previously.

  • Digital media planner is not a training profession. So what skills did you bring along that you could immediately implement?

    Maike: I definitely have an analytic approach to things. I interact well with people. That is very important for the job. Media planning is undeniably a people-business.

    Johannes: Maike’s career path is very linear indeed. I studied sports amongst other things, for example. What I am trying to say is that if you are enthusiastic, outgoing, curious, creative, passionate and have a certain degree of technical comprehension, especially for digital interdependencies, then you can also become a digital media planner.

  • Johannes, what do you think gives Maike the most pleasure in her job as a digital media planner?

    Johannes: As she said, I really think it is the variety of it: analyzing and interpreting numbers, then exit Excel and enter PowerPoint to make presentations. Review and reconcile media schedules with the classic media agency. Then when you think that your media schedule is perfect, suddenly the marketer comes along with some brand-new format that you really want to try – and you start all over again. Because you always want to offer your client the best possible and most cutting-edge proposal. Speaking about the same topic on totally different levels: the tech guy from the ad server communicates on a microlevel, whereas your client evaluates the campaign entirely on macrolevel. All the project management behind it. Campaigns always start at a certain point in time. That is the deadline and that is when you have to be done.

  • That can be stressful at times, right?

    Johannes: So true, you can hit your limits sometimes. But you learn from that. I might change the order of whom I talk to first, next time it comes to irregularities during my campaign or preparation. That can save a lot of time. Whatever happens: never let your client sense any of it. It is highly important that your client has a good feeling, at all times. Ultimately, everything will – and has to work out in the end.

  • You must probably know a lot about the variety of media and formats, all the possibilities, pricings and coverage. What else do you need to know?

    Johannes: It is just as important to have an understanding for the client’s brand. We need to know what goals our client is pursuing. It is our responsibility to monitor whether a particular client wish actually corresponds with the ultimate campaign goal.

  • For instance, if your client wanted to add Twitter to the digital media mix and you know that this placement would never reach the required performance. You would have to advise your client against Twitter, correct?

    Johannes: You are totally right.

  • Sounds like a lot of responsibility. We are surely talking about significant budgets here, right? How independent do you take decisions in your day-to-day work? Do you run to your boss every two hours, asking how and what to do?

    Johannes: God no, we work hand in hand here. I have my own areas of responsibility and act independently in daily business.

  • Maike, what has been your biggest success story so far?

    Maike: My first client experience. The first time my client called me directly, instead of my boss. That was because I had left a good impression and he had the feeling that he could trust me and my expertise.

  • How do you think the profession of a digital media planner will develop in the future?

    Johannes: The media landscape has been in constant motion the past years. Especially concerning digital media, it will keep progressing further and further.
    Digital media planners will have to expand their field of knowledge and action. There will be even more options on how to reach users at different touchpoints in various situations with an assortment of messages. PC, laptop, smartphone, these are only three of many possibilities to reach users. Everything seems possible as a touchpoint in the future – including coffee machines, refrigerators and ticket machines.

  • Thanks a lot for these exciting insights.

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