Editor's Note: What's on the minds of media planners? That's what our "Meet a Media Planner" series aims to uncover as we chat with media and search planners at agencies across the country. Today we'd like to introduce Malia Estes, a digital media planner at Mullen in Boston, Mass. Prior to joining Mullen a year and a half ago, Malia was busy experimenting with what she calls "a caveman version of media planning," handling blogging and social media for a smaller start-up. She enjoyed the work so much, she decided to pursue it full-time, and set her sights on Mullen. Since joining the team there, she has helped service clients like Timberland and Emblem Health, but now focuses solely on her favorite airborne brand, JetBlue.
Yahoo! Ad Blog: You say JetBlue is your favorite brand---do you have a personal favorite JetBlue campaign, as well?
Malia Estes: That's hard, because I love all our campaigns! We had a co-op campaign going a few weeks ago for Samaná, Dominican Republic, and it was one of those situations where the brand planners brought great insight, the creative team brought amazing visuals and taglines, and we media planners just got to have so much fun with it. We got to test out some new partners, and run these big, flashy units.
For example, we had one ad, an interactive slot machine, that connected to Facebook. If you spun the slot machine, it would land on a Samaná activity like whale-watching and also on one of your Facebook friends. So you could share it to that friend's wall and say, "Hey Joe! Let's book a vacation to Samaná and go whale-watching!" It was really cute.
YAB: What do you think outsiders misunderstand about media planning?
ME: I think there's the perception that it's very easy, like, "Yes, you should put an airline ad on a travel site." Obviously we do that, but we have to really know our audiences. Since I'm a huge research nerd, I love to take insight from our brand and account planners, and really layer it into my plans. I think that's one of the coolest parts of my job: No two plans are ever the same because no two audiences are really ever the same---even when the advertising is for the same brand.
YAB: What concerns are you hearing about most right now from your clients?
ME: Brand safety is definitely one. We have to make sure we keep JetBlue on the cutting edge, but that we do it in a very brand-safe environment. So if we put a property into one of our plans, we need to know exactly what kind of content is on the site and be sure it's the kind of content we want to be near. It all goes back to accountability---making sure we're treating our client and their media like something that absolutely belongs to us. Because it does.
YAB: What do you think sets Mullen apart from other agencies out there?
ME: I think Mullen does a great job of looking at our clients and saying, "We can do better. We can be better. We can be in more interesting places, do more interesting things, and create more engaging experiences for different audiences." That's something I really value about the culture here. They're always challenging us.
YAB: Speaking of challenges, what do you do to decompress from the challenges of work?
ME: I love to read.
YAB: What books are on your nightstand right now?
ME: A very well-worn copy of "Middlesex" by Jeffrey Eugenides, and "Fight Club" by Chuck Palahniuk, which I've read over 200 times. A standby that's been in my bag for about the last year is "Bossypants" by Tina Fey. I would like her to adopt me, even though I'm a grown adult.
Since the movies are coming out, I'm rereading "Anna Karenina" and "The Great Gatsby." Gatsby has been my favorite since I was first forced to read it in high school.
Saying "The Great Gatsby" is your all-time favorite is like saying the Beatles are your favorite band. But the Beatles are my favorite band, so there you go.