5 Work-Life Balance Hacks for Agency Media Planners

By Ed Delfs, Chief Marketing Officer

Life at a digital advertising agency can be creative, energizing, and exciting. But it can also become just that, “life at an advertising agency” where the boundaries between work life and personal life are blurred or even erased altogether. If you work at an agency, you know exactly what I am talking about. The unspoken tradeoff for tapping into your creativity and working in an energetic, fast paced agency environment has increasingly been the loss of work-life balance. 

The unhealthy normalization of toxic work culture has been squeezing every drop out of employees. Doing so helped digital media agencies to thrive, particularly those with lower profit margins. Yet, excessive stress and subsequent burnout have also led to an industry-wide mental health crisis. 

The good news is that light is emerging at the end of the burnout tunnel as media planning, buying and campaign management technology continues to evolve. What seemed like an unattainable goal of striking a healthy work-life balance is no longer a distant reality. 

Here are five key strategies that agency media planners and buyers can implement to create a healthier work-life balance and five corresponding suggestions to make the most out of the precious time and energy that you recover:

  1. Adopt Marketing Automation 

A mere 10 years ago, a typical digital media plan might include running just 2 formats of ads on just Facebook and Google, with campaign data being easily managed in a single spreadsheet. Today’s typical multi-channel campaign can now include dozens of formats running across dozens of media channels making manual, spreadsheet based campaign management a time consuming, aggravating and nearly impossible process. Adopting a marketing automation tool that allows you to aggregate all of your campaign data into a single viewable marketing dashboard will eliminate tens of hours of grinding, manual spreadsheet work each week.

Lifestyle Improvement: Devote four saved hours/week to cardio and strength training. Get stoked and get yoked!   

  1.  Reduce Campaign Risk

With the speed and complexity of modern media campaign management comes the increased risk of making costly mistakes when translating and analyzing data from multiple sources in multiple formats. This potential risk, and the stress of potentially explaining mistakes to your manager and your clients, adds increased pressure and anxiety to the life of a media planner. Another benefit of adopting marketing automation tools is the elimination of data translation risks and the ability to relax and focus on the creative, fun parts of the campaign process. 

Lifestyle Improvement: Reducing stress clears your mind and opens you up to new experiences. Spend 1-2 saved hours a week learning a new foreign language. Bonjour! 

  1. Improve Campaign Optimization Strategies

Nothing makes clients happier than knowing that their money is being well spent, and nothing upsets them more than believing their campaigns are not being actively analyzed and optimized. Manually analyzing, comparing, and  optimizing campaign performance data across multiple channels and formats requires planners to remember  multiple login credentials and then understand how to map the formatting and nomenclature of each channel into a single, uniform view. Two words: Mind Numbing. Utilizing an all-in-one data aggregation and optimization tool will allow you to view performance data in real time, accurately calculate your ROAS and then efficiently reallocate media dollars into the highest performing creatives and campaigns. Hours will be saved and clients will be thrilled with the results!

Lifestyle Improvement: Instead of having yet one more costly, lukewarm DoorDash meal delivered, spend 1-2 saved hours a week shopping for fresh ingredients at your local grocery store and then cook a healthy dinner with friends.

  1. Use Alerts as a Campaign Insurance Policy 

How do you know when a single piece of creative is performing or bombing, much less an entire campaign? Manually logging in to each account to check and compare performance is a paralyzingly difficult and time-consuming endeavor, so employing alerts and alarms is an absolute must for any modern media manager. Simply set your CPC/CPA/ROAS (or other KPI) performance bands and voila!, you will receive an alert when a campaign or piece of creative is over or underperforming. Instead of waiting days or weeks to get a report showing that media dollars were wasted, optimize your campaigns quickly and in real-time and be a hero to your clients. Bonus: alerts can also let you know when campaigns are no longer delivering, a common occurrence on platforms such as Twitter and Tik Tok.

Lifestyle Improvement: Spend two saved hours walking the dog, taking a run in the park or meeting up with  friends for coffee or a frosty beer with no worries. The alerts have you covered! 

  1. Rock Your Reports

Ah, the dreaded client report. Downloading spreadsheets, crunching numbers, developing insights and then formatting presentations. Reporting has always been the mother of all agency time sucks but no longer. Automated reporting tools allow you to download, organize, format, and create reports and presentations with the single click of a button. Spend your time on developing crack analysis and well thought out recommendations that blow your clients away, not on the typical reporting grunt work that fills your day with no payoff. 

Lifestyle Improvement: You know that book that has been sitting on your nightstand since the holidays?  Turn off the Netflix, crack the cover and spend 1-2 saved hours a week diving deep into that amazing new story.

Marketing automation and marketing intelligence platforms have created an unprecedented opportunity for thoughtful, creative media planners to shed the time-consuming, soul-crushing yoke of manually planning and managing digital media campaigns. Embracing these powerful tools will allow you to take full advantage of your regained time and freedom and create the healthy, sustainable and necessary work-life balance that you deserve. Make it happen!