Editor's Note: Media planners … who are they, and what do they think about? That’s what our "Meet a Media Planner" series aims to find out through chats with media and search planners at agencies across the country. Let us introduce Kandace Barker, a media planner for Digitas in Chicago. Kandace’s career path was set during a recruiting event on her college campus when Draftfcb snapped her up for an internship. She fell in love with media immediately and went on to plan for accounts including Qwest, Taco Bell, and Porsche. With three years under her belt, Kandace is now happily settled into an exclusive media relationship with Team Sprint.
Yahoo! Ad Blog: As a media planner, you always have to stay up on the latest trends and technologies. What has your attention right now?
Kandace Barker: Recently I’ve been really interested in understanding the value exchange model, which involves paying consumers or giving them some type of value for engaging with our content. For instance, mobile games are really emerging; everyone loves apps. So we might show an interstitial ad after someone reaches a new level of a game and say, “Congratulations on making it to the next level! Watch this video and enjoy 5 points to buy yourself some fuel for the next round!” Then they could use the points to buy another game or to upgrade.
I’m interested in learning more about the value exchange and how it impacts our media buys in such a cluttered environment.
YAB: What’s top of mind for Team Sprint and other clients in your agency?
KB: Since I’ve been in media one of the biggest recurring concerns is being able to quantify success of campaigns. Clients want to know how we can invest their media dollars in a way that’s going to allow them to actually know how it’s working. It sounds simple, but it’s still a question that most agencies haven’t been able to fully answer---especially as so many new technologies have emerged.
Knowing how things work together is a big part of this, too. We need to understand how consumers are using both mobile and desktop devices, how we can target the same consumers and use the right path to reach them. It’s really tough, and I talk to our partners all the time about it. Everyone’s working on it, and there has been a ton of growth, but nobody has the answer yet.
YAB: Sounds kind of stressful. What do you do to relax and get your mind off of challenges like that?
KB: I eat! I’m a huge foodie, so I love to try new restaurants with my girlfriends. I just tried this place called Ethiopian Diamond where the food comes out on a huge platter---and everyone eats with their hands and shares the meal. It was a really fun experience.
YAB: Are there any campaigns you’ve seen recently that you thought were particularly noteworthy?
KB: The “eBay Thanks You” campaign is really cool. It’s based on the thought that everything sold on eBay has a story, so eBay asked people to submit the stories of different items they sold or purchased on the site. One of them was a guy who bought a 1958 Harley Davidson motorcycle as a teenager and decided to sell it when he was married and had children. But he never forgot about it. Fast forward 32 years later, he’s searching for a motorcycle like that on eBay and winds up finding the exact same one that he owned in his youth. I’m not going to lie---I got a little teary-eyed. And I work in advertising, so for me to look at that and still be able to engage emotionally says a lot about the power of the campaign.
YAB: What do you think has been your proudest moment as a media planner so far?
KB: I think it was co-founding the Chicago Mosaic Alumni and Friends Association (MAFA Chicago). Our work is all about advocating for diversity within advertising. We help our members with job placement and professional development, and we have a mentorship program. But we’re also trying to do a better job of educating the industry on what diversity means and how it impacts the business, because “general market” doesn’t mean what it used to. It’s a hodgepodge of cultures, genders, and shared experiences.
As a media planner, I bring this perspective with me every day when I meet with different partners. I challenge them to think outside the box and tell me more about the people they’re targeting---like what their interests are, and how we can better connect with them. It’s no longer about just getting 500,000 impressions in the “general market.” It’s about really understanding the nuances of culture.