Media planners in high demand

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In today's complex marketing environment, which requires innovative strategies to help break through the clutter and realize a return on limited marketing dollars, media strategists have increasingly valuable jobs.

"Media planners are in extremely high demand now," said Amy Hoover, VP of TalentZoo, a recruiting agency for the advertising industry.

"Everyone needs media planners right now," said Hoover, noting that job listings for media planners are up 47% this year compared with last. "There is more focus on where media dollars are being spent, and there is a need to be more creative when it comes to media."

The professionals profiled in this year's Best & Brightest Media Strategists Special Report exemplify the qualities that are required of good media planners. They are smart, innovative and willing to try new things to get their clients noticed.

Carl Fremont, senior VP-director of worldwide media services at Digitas and this year's Media Veteran honoree, said the real challenge for media strategists is to integrate marketing messages across a range of media, and sometimes this involves working with several agencies to accomplish clients' goals.

For example, Digitas created a compelling online campaign for American Express Open: The Small Business Network, in conjunction with Ogilvy and its media agency MindShare.

"Businesspeople are busy, and they are bombarded every day with messages," Fremont said. "It's about synergizing and orchestrating all channels together."

Another challenge for media strategists is to be more creative with smaller marketing budgets.

"You have to be smarter with every dollar you spend," said Chris Philip, media director at Doremus, who spearheaded campaigns for United Technologies Corp., ITT Industries and The Financial Times.

Philip said the pressure to prove marketing ROI has caused a shift in balance between the creative side of the business and the media side.

"There has really been a deep shift in the power balance," Philip said, noting that media now drives much of the strategic planning in marketing campaigns.

On the following pages, BtoB talks to this year's media strategists to find out what drives their passion for the business, what their challenges were in 2004 and their most innovative media placements.

Some of the media strategists have a deep background in traditional advertising, while others have been immersed in online media. The one thing they all have in common is a commitment to finding innovative ways to leverage new and emerging media to achieve their clients' business objectives.

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