Advertising Account Planner

Turn campaign ideas into tangible strategies that result in effective advertising.
Ivy Simon
Editorial Writer
Turn campaign ideas into tangible strategies that result in effective advertising.

Before an advertising campaign can begin, an agency must first produce a workable campaign strategy that the client can agree on and internal agency staff will adhere to. Coming with such strategies is the job of an advertising account planner. 

Account planners help advertising agencies develop client campaign strategies through analysing qualitative and quantitative data – whether provided by the client or obtained through external sources or research. They also keep agencies up to date on market and customer trends, help agency creatives develop campaign ideas, and evaluate campaign effectiveness post-launch.  
Within an agency, account planners often work closely with media buyers. They help media buyers identify target audiences, which media platforms to use, and ideal timings for campaign rollout. They also help media buyers allocate clients’ advertising budgets across the most effective mix of platforms. 

For this reason, some smaller agencies tend to combine account planning and media buying roles. However, large agencies generally retain both as separate divisions. 

Life on the job

There are no hard degree requirements to launch a career in account planning. Employers do favour candidates with marketing or business-related backgrounds, but graduates from any discipline can get hired so long as they can show they have the relevant skills for the job and a broad enough sense of commercial awareness. 

Fresh graduates typically start off as a junior account planner. You can expect to work with senior account planning staff, providing research and planning support for several accounts at once. After gaining enough experience, you will start having more direct contact with clients, taking part in campaign pitches or advising clients on what campaign strategies they should commit to with the agency. 

You can expect to work with a wide range of people within an agency, from business directors and account managers to creatives and media buying staff. Upward mobility involves an increasing set of responsibilities such as taking the lead on planning duties for key client accounts, managing a team of other planners, or potentially becoming a business director and securing new clients for the agency.

Account planners generally have more manageable working hours relative to other advertising professionals. However, you should still be prepared to work overtime or be on call on off-days simply because of the nature of the industry itself.    

Required skills

A key requirement for account planning roles is knowing how to analyse and interpret data. You will have to find and review data from multiple sources such as online analytics, sales data, external market research, or customer surveys and extract actionable insights that can be shared with both agency colleagues and clients.

Strong commercial awareness and an updated knowledge of marketing and media trends is crucial as well. Being aware of broader market movements, current marketing/branding best practices, and trending topics and media platforms will be key to pinpointing effective advertising strategies.

Good communication skills are a must. Account planners work with a wide range of team members within the agency and will liaise with clients as well. You must be able to persuade both your colleagues and clients on why they should adopt your proposed strategy, as well as keep everyone updated if external developments require sudden strategic shifts.  

Other required skills include problem-solving abilities, self-motivation, and the ability to work well under pressure. This can be a rewarding line of work for individuals who enjoy finding creative solutions to challenges, solving business problems like puzzles, and being at the forefront of advertising and marketing trends.