Editor's Note: "Meet a Media Planner" is our new ongoing feature, where we profile media planners from agencies across the country. Let us introduce Jessica Bender, a finalist in the 2012 Yahoo Young Media Star competition, who's been a media planner since March 2010. Jessica started out at PHD's global headquarters in London, handling trafficking, mainly for direct response campaigns, and then moved into planning for clients including ING Direct, The Gap, and two British institutions, the BBC and Harrods. Jessica relocated to PHD Los Angeles last year to be closer to family and now handles media planning for the Cunard cruise line, Hormel Foods, and Mitsubishi Cars.
Jessica Bender: At first, it was just seeing the ads that you placed out there in the universe---it was very rewarding to know that I was the one who put them there. Now it's more about meeting a new technology vendor who gets you excited about the innovative ways they can help you reach your audience … like sequential targeting on three screens, so you know you're reaching the same consumer on their mobile phone, their desktop, and on their connected TV. I feel like we are on the cutting edge of technology, and to actually be able to apply that technology to an ad campaign is pretty special.
YAB: Is there a campaign out there now that you really like?
JB: PHD New York just won a bronze award at the Cannes festival for a cool campaign, Aquafresh Nurdles. Basically, moms wanted to get their kids to want to brush their teeth, which seemed like an impossible feat for them. In the creative, kids are singing and dancing with these Nurdles who are brushing their teeth on the commercial. It got a lot of good press. They took off the air at one point, and there was an outcry from moms saying, "Put it back on, my kids won't brush their teeth unless they hear that song." That was pretty cool. Most people want less advertising; these moms wanted more of it.
YAB: What trends are catching the attention of your clients?
JB: Quite a few. Some clients are really interested in measuring offline sales, so we're looking into that. One technique for CPG brands is to use loyalty card data, where you can tell if the person you've targeted online with a banner actually bought your product or service in store. This data can help clients measure return on media investment fairly accurately. Another interesting tactic is to create a lookalike model of your best customers---using their age, address, spending habits, anything that will help you understand who is most likely to convert---and then target them through channels like display and email. There are a number of interesting and viable targeting solutions in the marketplace right now, so we are investigating which ones are right for our clients.
YAB: What's the toughest part of your job?
JB: Most of our clients aren't that familiar with digital, and digital is so much more accountable than any other medium---which is a blessing and a curse. We can prove our value, but I feel like every other medium just kind of gets away with not having to. Maybe it's just because I'm a digital planner, but I feel like digital planners do more work than any other type of media planner, especially with targeting, optimizations and that sort of thing.
YAB: What do you do to de-stress?
JB: Actually, I like to sing at my desk. I've been called a jukebox, because I just go from one song to another without much pause. L.A. is a very different office environment compared to London. We were packed in like sardines in London, sitting at big tables with no dividers. It's a lot quieter here. I just feel like we need more noise in the office.