Wanted: Interactive Planners — Pronto!

Will 2004 be the breakthrough year we’ve been waiting for?

If the current planning season holds steady, it certainly feels that way at our shop. Issues used to concern measurement, budget allocation, or creative implementation. The next big issue we’re going to have to deal with is staffing.

Yes, I said staffing.

Now that clients are starting to really embrace and leverage the medium, we’re having a tough time filling positions. (You gotta love the current wave of reports about missing young male TV viewers — we found them online!) We currently have one open interactive media planner position and two openings for assistant media planners. After running recruitment ads online and in print for a month, we’ve turned up not a single qualified candidate.

Where did everyone go? I keep hearing unemployment is still a problem in the ad business. My guess is that people who are inclined to work in the interactive media space and were laid off either went back to school, joined the ranks of traditional media, or got out of the business altogether. Hopefully, they’re not all behind the counter at Avis, where I recently bumped into a former media staffer.

What makes a great interactive media pro? We look for someone who can:

  • Assertively lead the negotiation process and effectively manage placement of online media purchases for various accounts

  • Proactively work with an account team to manage media resources
  • Secure flight dates, budget, list of possible sites, and campaign goals from the overall client team
  • Manage the request-for-proposal (RFP) process for sites and search engines based on supplied criteria
  • Aggressively negotiate placement, cost, and specifics with pertinent sites
  • Evaluate plan for internal review and effectively and persuasively present strategic ideas to the client
  • Manage insertion orders (IOs) from Web sites and implement campaigns according to spec
  • Correctly communicate flight dates, site info, and creative specs to production managers and account services
  • Learn and utilize all research, planning, and optimization tools

Media planners are also responsible for analyzing campaign reports, regularly checking and confirming campaign status for each account, and handling any administrative issues with spotlight tagging on client sites.

We prefer someone with a minimum of two year’s experience in traditional or interactive media and a B.A. in advertising or a related field.

What’s in it for the candidate (if there’s anyone out there)?

How about:

  • Working for an award-winning, respected interactive agency located right in the middle of the country. Just three hours from the Big Apple and the sunny beaches of southern California, thanks to a zillion Dallas/Fort Worth flights every day.

  • Working for high-profile, Fortune 1000 clients with decent budgets.
  • Collaborating with a crack account service team that knows how to plan and implement strategically sound programs.
  • Seeing the impact a killer creative team can deliver with needle-moving work built on solid ideas.

Of course, there’s all that other stuff, such as a great 401(k) plan; medical, dental, and vision insurance; and a decent amount of vacation days and holidays. Did I mention pay? It’s not bad, either.

What’s really important in the right candidate is passion for the work. I kid you not; this profession isn’t for the faint of heart. Not unlike traditional advertising, we’ll put you to the test with tough challenges, tight deadlines, and demanding clients. You’ll need a talent for problem solving (why did the CTR nose-dive all of a sudden?); the organizational skills of a master planner (we’re implementing 846 different tracking tags for this one ad?); and the ability to avert disaster in the blink of an eye (tell the client if they mess with the tracers, we’ll end up with 846 blank fields on the post report!).

From a career perspective, you’ll gain data-driven insight skills that will benefit you no matter where you end up.

I must be desperate to use a whole column as a glorified recruitment ad. But hey, if word of mouth lands three jobs for friends of yours, isn’t that helping the industry?

What’s an interested candidate to do? Apply online, of course.

Meanwhile, all you online services managers out there, get ready for your own talent crunch. It’s coming.

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