Media planners identify which media platforms will best advertise their clients' brands or products to their target audience

As a media planner, you'll work in media, integrated or sometimes creative agencies to maximise the impact of advertising campaigns through a range of media platforms.

You'll apply your knowledge of media and communication platforms to identify the most appropriate mediums for building awareness of a client's brand.

You'll also use creative thinking and research to develop appropriate strategies to ensure that campaigns reach their target audiences as effectively as possible.

The roles of media planner and media buyer are usually separate, but in smaller agencies they may be combined into one job.

Types of media planning work

Media planners work with a range of media channels such as:

  • television
  • radio
  • cinema
  • press
  • digital
  • out-of-home.

Job titles vary and you may also be known as a communications planner, brand planner or media strategist.


As a media planner, you'll need to:

  • work with the client and the account team to understand the client's business objectives and advertising strategy
  • research the client's target audiences and analyse their characteristics, behaviour and media habits
  • liaise with the creative agency team, clients and consumers to develop media strategies and campaigns
  • make decisions on the best form of media to use for specific clients and campaigns
  • present proposals, including cost schedules, to clients
  • recommend the most appropriate types of media to use, as well as the most effective time spans and locations
  • work with colleagues, other departments, media buyers and the creative agency to ensure the plans are achievable in terms of time scales and budgets
  • keep clients up to date with the media plan's progress
  • maintain detailed records
  • evaluate the effectiveness of campaigns to inform future ones
  • manage client relationships to build respect and gain their trust in your judgement
  • make and maintain good contacts with media owners, such as newspapers, magazines and websites
  • keep up to date with industry developments, including competitor activities
  • research new opportunities to expand within different media channels.


  • Typical starting salaries for trainee media planners with up to one year's experience range from £19,000 to £30,000.
  • Junior media planners with one to three years' experience can earn in the region of £22,000 to £40,000.
  • As a media planner with three-to-five years' experience, you can earn £27,000 to £66,000.
  • Salaries for senior media planners with five to ten years' experience range from £35,000 to £108,000. As a director, you could earn between £41,000 and £120,000.

Salaries can vary greatly depending on the size and type of employer and location, with salaries generally higher in London. Salary will also depend on your skills and experience, as well as your track record and ability to plan successful campaigns.

Some agencies offer additional benefits such as bonuses, private healthcare and gym memberships.

Income data from the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA). Figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

You may need to work beyond the standard 9am to 5pm working day, especially when there are client deadlines to meet. You'll be required to have a flexible approach to your working hours.

What to expect

  • Most of your work is office based, but you will spend a lot of time collaborating with other teams and clients via email, telephone and other communications channels such as Teams or Zoom.
  • Jobs are usually located in London and other major UK cities, such as Edinburgh, Glasgow, Cardiff, Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham.
  • The work is fast-paced and can be challenging as you will be working to tight deadlines on a number of projects at the same time. However, it can also be rewarding when you plan a successful campaign for your clients.
  • The job involves a lot of contact with clients and media owners, developing trust and building good working relationships.
  • You will need to travel to meet clients, especially at the beginning of a campaign. Large agencies may represent national and international clients, so there may be some opportunities to travel abroad to meet clients.


Although this area of work is open to all graduates and those with an HND, the following degree or HND subjects may increase your chances:

  • advertising
  • business/business administration
  • management
  • communication and media studies
  • English and journalism
  • marketing
  • psychology
  • statistics.

As a graduate, you can apply for graduate roles such as junior media planner within a media agency. Larger agencies may have graduate recruitment schemes.

It's also possible to get into the role through a Level 3 Advertising and Media Executive Apprenticeship. Apprenticeships combine study with paid work, allowing you to train on the job and gain a qualification. You can search for an apprenticeship using Find an apprenticeship.

A pre-entry postgraduate qualification is not required.

You may want to consider taking the IPA Foundation Certificate aimed at newcomers to the industry with less than a year's experience in an advertising, marketing or communications role.


You'll need to have:

  • strong research and analytical skills to interpret data using specialist industry resources
  • excellent interpersonal, negotiation and communication skills, for building strong relationships with clients, media owners and colleagues
  • the ability to think strategically
  • proficiency with numbers, for data and statistics analysis
  • report writing and presentation skills
  • general IT skills, particularly how to use databases and spreadsheets, for the collection and management of information
  • the ability to work effectively under pressure to meet deadlines
  • attention to detail
  • organisation and time management skills to work on several projects at the same time, often for several different clients
  • commercial flair
  • the motivation to keep up to date with current trends and developments in media research.

Work experience

Pre-entry relevant work experience will improve your chances of finding employment. Doing an internship with an advertising agency will give your application an edge and is looked on favourably by employers. You will get practical experience and will develop a network of contacts that can be useful when looking for jobs on graduation.

You can also look for work experience in other areas that will help you develop interpersonal skills, such as customer service, marketing, media, communications and sales.

Contact agencies direct to see if they have any work experience, voluntary or work shadowing opportunities. The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) has a list of member agencies that can be useful when making speculative applications.

You could also look for part-time work as an administration assistant in an advertising agency, which will give you an insight into the sector.

A strong and genuine interest in media, and an appreciation of the part it plays in advertising, is vital. A good way to support job applications is getting to know key aspects and terms used in the industry through organisations and websites such as:

  • Campaign - marketing, advertising and media news and analysis
  • IAB UK (Internet Advertising Bureau) - industry body for digital advertising
  • IPA - trade body and professional institute for the advertising, media and marketing communications industry.

Find out more about the different kinds of work experience and internships that are available.


You could work for:

  • media agencies, which cover all media
  • new media agencies, which cover advertising through digital media, text messaging and the internet
  • full-service advertising agencies.

Some large companies and organisations will employ in-house media planners within their marketing department.

In full-service agencies, there tends to be a greater interaction between creative and media teams. In some agencies, the role of media planner and media buyer may be combined.

Media planners also find work in more specialist agencies, including:

  • brand content agencies
  • brand experience agencies
  • creative agencies
  • digital agencies
  • direct marketing agencies
  • out-of-home/outdoor agencies.

Look for job vacancies at:

Some media independents recruit graduates directly, while several companies recruit through specialist agencies.

Speculative applications can be successful if you do your research on the role and employer carefully. Explore the company's website and be aware of their current presence in the market.

Professional development

You'll do most of your training on the job, with support from more experienced colleagues. This on-the-job experience is crucial for developing your skills and building practical knowledge of national and regional media.

You may start in a combined junior media/planner role, gaining experience in a range of different departments before specialising in planning. If you're on a graduate recruitment scheme, you may get a formal training plan that includes rotations.

As a newcomer to the industry, you may be encouraged to take the IPA Foundation Certificate. The IPA also provides a range of courses aimed at more experienced professionals.

A key aspect of early training involves gaining an understanding of audience research figures, which provide consumer and media information. These include:

  • Barb Audiences Ltd - insights and analysis into what people watch
  • Google Analytics 4 - a web analytics service that tracks and reports website traffic
  • The Publishers Audience Measurement Company (PAMCo) - audience measurement for published media
  • Route Research - out-of-home advertising audiences
  • Radio Joint Audience Research (RAJAR) - measuring radio audiences for both commercial and BBC radio
  • Kantar Expert - audience measurement and analytics.

You will need to keep up to date with industry developments throughout your career and will have to be proactive in seeking out opportunities for continuing professional development (CPD) and training. Relevant courses in many aspects of advertising and marketing, including planning, are offered by organisations such as:

Career prospects

You'll usually start as a trainee media planner and will need significant guidance at this stage from more senior planners. Once you have between one and three years' experience, you can move into an executive media planner role. You will be able to work independently, receiving only light-touch guidance, and will provide guidance yourself to trainees.

With three-to-five years' experience, you could move into a manager position with responsibility for managing a team, small department and/or a mid-sized account.

Senior positions bring added responsibility, often for multiple accounts and for the work of others. With five to ten years' experience, for example, there are opportunities to move into a senior role leading a large team and/or significant client or function. At the highest level, you could become a director with a focus on strategic planning.

You could choose to specialise in a particular area such as insight or social media planning or move into a strategic planning role in the broader advertising industry. There are also opportunities to move into fields such as data planning, research or marketing. Headhunting is common in the media industry, and you may move between employers to increase your salary and broaden your experience.

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