The Rise of Beta Planners, and How It Shapes the Future of Advertising

So this has come to a conclusion. Welcome to the rising of beta planner generation, where planners are rising but they don’t really have strong position in the agency since part of their job has been taken over by specialist planners, and for brand/comm has also been taken over by someone else’s department.

According to Anatomy of Humbug, advertising was once famous for it’s ‘scientific’ approaches, an expansion from it’s earlier function as salesmanship and give reasoning. This ‘scientific’ approach emphasize on advertising should rely on seriousness and rational justification, that will make people consider your product. Clients demanded to see the effect of advertising in business, and asked agencies to formulate the pattern. Hence, DAGMAR (Defining Advertising Goal for Measured Advertising Results) was introduced. Business peeps wanted to see business results, but tracked sales that only comes from advertising was hard, and digital wasn’t invented yet. So the industry shifted measurement of advertising not only from sales but also to objectives and phases, or what we’ve known as AIDA/AISAS. Ad recall, awareness, consideration, was introduced to make advertising more tangible. Since then, planners have been in charge to become “the business guy” among creative people.

Many agencies nowadays are keeping planners especially with the rising of digital media and technology. The scope of planners are shifting from brand and communication strategy only, to heavily focus on channel planning ranging from conventional as well as digital touch points. Not only they are required to understand each platform’s function, they also obligated to understand user behavior, interactions, as well as opportunity that brand can tap in within those channels. Brand planners, digital planners, social media planners, media planners, search planners/optimizer, to name a few, are samples of expansion from today’s planner responsibilities to master so they can give comprehensive understanding on how a campaign should run.

However, keeping planners in agencies are harder than it ought to be. Too many skill sets to master at a certain time requires a person with years of experiences. And since the technology and trend are still running until now, adaptability and fresh thinking are always required as traits for this position. Hence, agencies start to divide planners into specialists according to their services (media planners, digital planners, social media planners, influencer planners, search planners) and these positions can start from junior level. But what about brand and communication planners? Well, they are getting rarer these days.

Brand and communication planners are getting rarer because the industry landscape is also shifting to digital services, that doesn’t necessarily need to sell brand and communication strategy alone (as I mentioned earlier, specialist planners are only required for specific digital services). With the rise of media technology, clients are not just FMCG or unicorn startups, medium scale enterprises are also taking the hot seats. And agencies learn this opportunity to diversify their business units, or even create ad-hoc agencies consist of freelancers that offers affordable services for those medium scale enterprises. Who will pay the talent for brand and communication strategy if the service being needed by the client is social media content management and maintenance?

Aside from industry that has shifted recently, the position to hire director level on planning department is getting rarer (at least from my point of view). There are lack of regeneration from director level to senior and mid level, unlike creatives that has complete range of career milestone. Planners just have junior, mid, senior level, and sometimes director. It’s not perplexing yet each phases requires sufficient work experiences. Not many agencies have the luxury to hire director level on their planning department. It’s either taken over by account department (under the group account director), creative department (under the executive creative director), or directly under the general manager. Besides, the ad industries are also getting more intertwined with design thinking research firm, or startups, and the classic in-house marketing team, that makes the talents also don’t choose planning department as their long term career anymore.

This is a unique condition where the supply of young and mid planners are in the state of growing but they don’t really have the privilege to have clear career path. Imagine being a planner under creative department, so if he/she get promotion it would be as creative… group head?

So this has come to a conclusion. Welcome to the rising of beta planner generation, where planners are rising but they don’t really have strong position in the agency since part of their job has been taken over by specialist planners, and for brand/comm has also been taken over by someone else’s department.

Being beta is actually good. Because to some extent, we’re supporting the whole team by making the right foundation, and we’re fluid enough to choose and build our own career path. Brand comm strategy will never die. But maybe it’s time for us to really contemplate and think what’s next after doing strategy? Only time will tell.

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andreas kennardi

I have experiences in advertising and marketing industries, and desire to learn consumer behavior.