Day Three in the Life of a Good Media Planner

After settling in with a large coffee, our media planner scans the Internet before she jumps into the next stage of the buy. She checks the news, tracks the stock quotes (she gets a lot of good tips from reps with inside scoops), and even logs onto E*TRADE to unload some shares. By 9 a.m. her supervisor has arrived, and she picks up all the printed spreadsheets from her desk and heads into her supervisor’s office.

After going over the final list of sites that made the buy, the supervisor asks a few questions, nods, and says, “All right. Let’s get this signed.”

The planner emails the client the list and confirms the conference call for two hours hence. Since they already had buy-off on a very similar list before the final price negotiations happened, she doesn’t feel very nervous about the upcoming approval. But there’s still a lot to do between now and then.

She walks over to visit the traffic and production folks in person. She gives them each a copy of the site list — this one with the production specs next to each site from the information forwarded in the RFP process. She asks both groups if any of these sites have proven to be problematic going up in time. She doesn’t want to have to deal with another hassle.

Several times before, one site went up a few weeks late because the site gave the team the wrong production specs (once because the site had just changed the specs, another time because a rep said the agency could use a form of creative the rep’s own tech team later refused). It resulted in an unbalanced media campaign that threw off several controlled media tests they were conducting, caused hours and hours of extra discrepancy resolution, and ultimately left the client with a queasy feeling about the whole enterprise.

Sure enough, Carla, the 18-year-old production intern, points to two sites that they had problems with in the past couple of months with other clients.

“Big problems?”

“No, but I can’t guarantee it won’t happen again.”

“OK, they’re off the list. I’ll email everyone the new version by lunch.”

Our planner has a backup list of sites she would have liked to include on the buy originally, but she didn’t have the money. She turns to this list now. She picks out two sites that best replace the particular type of sites she just trashed off the list.

One she favors because it’s the most analogous to the sites left off. The other she chooses because she wants to curry favor with the site’s rep since there’s a new campaign in the works where she might need a favor from her.

She emails the result (with a very brief explanation) to her supervisor, and then sends copies to production and traffic.

She sits in on the client conference call. Her supervisor answers all the questions, so there’s not much use in saying anything. The client picks some nits, just to show she’s up on all this stuff. The planner heads off these issues by turning that discussion into a general discussion about the media market, making sure to show her appreciation of the client’s sophistication. The client faxes back a signed version.

She heads back to her cubicle. She sits back in the chair and thinks for a few seconds. Is she forgetting anything? No? OK, she sends out the “yes” email to all the folks who made the buy.

When she comes back from lunch 30 minutes later, half of them have already responded with nice emails (a couple with some subtle gripes about not getting at least 15 percent of the buy, and about how important it is that they get at least 15 percent of the buy).

She then sends out the “no” email to the remainder of the folks who responded to the RFP. She chooses this time to call her parents. She wants to be on the phone for the next couple of hours when the particularly pushy reps start calling her for their appeals process. It’s an enormous waste of her time to have to field lots of calls from reps who are trying not to take “No” for an answer, but she feels that sometimes she can’t just ignore them. She’ll need favors from them at some point later down the line. But for this afternoon, at least, she can funnel them into voice mail.

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