Experience, not training, is the key to upskilling in media

Experience, not training, is the key to upskilling in media

It is only through the power of experience that we really understand and develop the true craft of media planning, writes OMD UK’s head of planning.

Nothing brings the OMD UK media planning team more joy than seeing an article bringing to life the importance, but also challenges, that we are currently facing in the industry around media planning.

As a team developed purely on the craft of media planning, we know first-hand how clients, media owners and industry bodies are always relieved when part of the OMD team are working towards a shared goal.

However, I must disagree that introducing a qualification is the answer to the upskilling of the industry.

Of course there is a role for learning opportunities, be they industry, agency or channel qualifications, but a holistic “media planning” qualification is not something that someone can sit down and learn.

It is only through the power of experience that we really understand and develop the true craft of media planning. Media Planning is not just an excel laydown of the plan or a PowerPoint describing the consumer journey, it’s those things and more; small interactions with peers, questions posed to industry specialists, the ability to answer challenging questions from clients, teaching junior aspiring media planners.

No doubt the fundamentals of media need to be in place before earning your stripes as a bone fide media planner but no number of qualifications can add the much needed common sense to countless TGI runs, or identifying slight errors in data pulls — only experience gives you this.

We can’t just train ourselves to be creative with all this data

Hybrid working only exacerbates this need for experience, when I was a junior planner I had the benefit of overhearing conversations, asking countless questions and learning from everyone physically around me. As a team, we ensure that the media planning team sit together and I can be regularly found discussing media maths with everyone around me, asking questions about charts that I see on people’s screens and more recently bringing together different client teams to elevate both the work and the experience in the team.

The new opportunity that technology and data gives us, also makes the life of a media planner more challenging. And no number of training sessions on platforms will allow me to think about novel ways of using data that gives my client an extra edge against their competitors.

But at OMD UK we know that as media planners we must surround ourselves with specialists who can help us prove hypothesis, add new rigour and develop media plans to push the future effectiveness.

This is why our Connected Performance team is driving a new way of media planning where we have brought together each of the disciplines, truly connecting all types of media channels and across the full marketing funnel, continuing to give our media planners the continued experience to hone their media planning craft.

Rhian Feather is head of media planning at OMD UK.

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