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. Today we’re catching up with Ryan Chan, a senior digital media planner at Mullen in Boston, Mass. For over three years now, Ryan has been expertly combining his creative problem-solving and math-whiz skills to develop killer media plans for his clients. He loves being challenged to use his right brain and left brain every day and is currently focusing both lobes on the National Geographic Channel account.
Yahoo! Ad Blog: When it comes to digital advertising, what are your clients most concerned about?
Ryan Chan: Their biggest concern is to be as innovative as possible. Staying on top of all the new trends---mobile, tablets, Windows 8, video, native advertising---and then making really engaging content to use with them.
YAB: Native advertising has been getting a lot of buzz. What do you like about that approach?
RC: It’s my favorite facet of advertising right now. The biggest appeal for me is that it blurs the lines between actual content and advertising. It gives advertisers and brands the opportunity to embed themselves within sites, engage the audience, and really make sure they’re working to create brand favorability rather than just placing another banner ad.
YAB: Can you give me an example of a native campaign you thought was especially good?
RC: We’ve done some programs recently with “BuzzFeed”---they’re the darling of the trades right now---where we’ve been promoting the “Doomsday Preppers” show for NatGeo Channel. It’s been crazy to see how once you obscure those lines between ads and content, people are so much more likely to share and engage and comment. It really creates an opportunity for two-way dialog.
YAB: Within the BuzzFeed articles, is it obvious the content is linked to the show?
RC: Yeah, there’s a callout at the beginning that says, “Tune into ‘Doomsday Preppers’ Tuesday” and there’s branding, too. For the content, we create things like a list of doomsday recipes that preppers might use, like SPAM meatballs and a bunch of other suggestions for making delicious meals if you’re hiding out in your shelter. We also created lists of the top 10 places people would want to get away from the apocalypse and other quirky, shareable pieces of content that would engage users.
When you’re trying to build brand favorability and positive feelings toward a show, you really don’t want to interrupt people’s online experience too much. You want to contribute to it. And we seemed to have done that because we saw amazing results in terms of viral lift.
YAB: What do you think outsiders don’t understand about your job as a media planner?
RC: It’s funny, I’ve been with Mullen for three years, and it was just in the past couple months that my dad finally realized that I didn’t write jingles. When you tell someone you work at an ad agency, they immediately assume you’re either involved in creative or brand planning. I’d say that’s the biggest misconception.
There’s also a misperception that media planners live in spreadsheets and are purely straightforward thinkers. But there’s a lot more that goes into it, and a lot of creative brainstorms that take place. It really marries right-brain and left-brain thinking.
YAB: If you had to change careers tomorrow, what would you do instead of media planning?
RC: I think at some point, I’d really like to get into non-profit marketing. I had a brief internship right out of college where I worked for a non-profit that focused on closing the “achievement gap” for students from different backgrounds. Based on socioeconomic factors, there’s a difference in opportunities for students that can really impact achievement across different regions and schools. The organization that I worked with tried to find ways to make sure every kid had an opportunity to excel. Education has always been a big part of my life, so I thought everything about the work was very interesting and fulfilling.