How to Become an Advertising Manager

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Advertising managers are vital to the business landscape. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects steady job growth for the advertising manager profession over the next decade. The knowledge and skill set of a successful advertising manager can push a company to the forefront of public awareness and place it top of mind for the right customer at the right time.

While the goal of the advertising manager remains steady, the means to achieve that goal are in flux. Today’s digital marketing landscape is evolving rapidly, and businesses risk lagging behind the competition if they don’t evolve with it. An advertising manager is essential to ensuring an organization remains competitive because their work is crucial to keeping the organization relevant.

A bachelor’s degree in communication can help inform the career path of those who are interested in how to become an advertising manager by exposing them to the skill set needed to work effectively with clients and reach target markets.

An advertising manager leads a meeting with colleagues at a conference table.

The Role of Advertising Managers

The primary goal of an advertising manager is to keep a business and its products or services publicly relevant. It is a sizable endgame, and it’s one that is best understood by breaking the position into smaller elements.

Advertising Manager Responsibilities

Advertising managers are charged with creating and planning programs to generate interest in products or services. They may work as account executives in advertising agencies, media directors in media agencies, or communications managers in public relations firms. In an agency environment, an advertising manager serves as a liaison between clients and the agency.

During marketing campaign planning, advertising managers determine not only the best content for particular audiences but also the best media for each campaign, which can include television, print, digital, and billboards. An important responsibility is to stay up to date on the latest techniques for creating advertising campaigns on social media.

Advertising managers may also oversee the negotiation of advertising contracts and media placements, maintain client relationships, evaluate the aesthetics of print and online layouts, and conduct research studies to better understand audience behaviors and market opportunities. This makes the role stand out when comparing a marketing manager versus an advertising manager role, as a marketing manager focuses on finding the need and an advertising manager concentrates on filling that need.

Becoming an Advertising Manager: The Process

The following steps can guide a student or career-changer interested in learning how to become an advertising manager. Undergraduate study can open doors to a diverse range of advertising opportunities, and pursuing an advanced degree can increase the possibility of achieving career goals more efficiently. The advertising manager position is not an entry-level role and therefore also requires years of on-the-job experience.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

While organizations consider candidates with various types of bachelor’s degrees, a Bachelor of Arts in Communication can be particularly useful for those preparing to become advertising managers. In these programs, students gain the versatile skills needed to keep up with an ever-changing and unpredictable marketing environment, where consumers are constantly bombarded with messages.

The typical undergraduate communication curriculum covers key concepts designed to equip students with the skills to design campaigns that stand out, such as writing for communication and media, communication research methods, and global communication. They also typically offer concentrations in various areas, such as strategic communications, media strategy, and social media.

The multifaceted program can also lead to an internship, which can provide an excellent opportunity to work with advertising and media professionals in a real-world setting and to gain experience using communication tools to interact with clients.

Step 2: Build On-the-Job Experience

The path to becoming an advertising manager usually starts by gaining experience in an entry-level position, such as that of a media or advertising associate, account coordinator, advertising sales assistant, or junior creative team member (often in a brand planning or art role). In some cases, this experience can be gained through a role associated with advertising, such as a public relations specialist role.

In agency environments, employees might then advance to a supervisor role, helping entry-level employees move advertising layouts through approval phases in various departments. This provides valuable exposure to the cross-functional communication needed to execute a campaign from beginning to end. In addition, future advertising managers gain a keen awareness of the impact of brand consistency, attention to detail, and willingness to work with clients on a shared vision.

The progression of an advertising career then moves on to a midlevel role, such as that of an advertising manager. Because they worked their way up through the ranks, advertising managers know the importance of every department involved in the process, as well as how to communicate effectively with key team members. In addition, they have gained exposure to various types of media, including traditional print, broadcast, digital, and social media.

Step 3: Pursue a Master’s Degree (Optional)

While earning an advanced degree is not required to become an advertising manager, an MBA in Marketing can potentially help professionals advance to this role faster. It can also increase an individual’s potential for qualifying for a higher salary, a larger bonus, or more diverse career opportunities. An MBA in Marketing includes courses that supplement the core business curriculum of an MBA and focuses on relevant advertising topics, such as consumer behavior, social networking, and search engine optimization.

Advertising Manager Skills

The role of advertising manager requires a diverse skill set. Taken together, these competencies can help individuals build and convey comprehensive ad campaigns that can yield positive dividends for an organization.

  • Creativity: Advertising managers must be able to generate ideas that are fresh, imaginative, and innovative without losing focus on their organization’s objectives.
  • Analytical Skills: It’s important to gauge the current state of the target audience accurately. An informed interpretation can build successful new strategies and adjust old strategies that may be lagging.
  • Communication Skills: Advertising managers must be adept at communicating clearly with various groups in their organization, so everyone understands the goals of the advertising strategy. They must also be able to adapt their communication strategies to the public, which could mean taking a persuasive tone to inspire action.
  • Organizational Skills: Advertising managers must be able to manage their time to ensure a campaign runs smoothly and meets incremental goals. They must also be able to oversee and stick to an advertising budget.
  • Industry Awareness: Knowing the ins and outs of the industry helps an advertising manager develop a better understanding of their organization’s objectives and how they may align with the philosophies surrounding the industry. This could influence a campaign’s direction, which could lead to smarter, more effective strategies.

Advertising Manager Salary

The 2021 median annual wage for advertising managers was $127,150, according to the BLS. The top 10% of earners in the profession earned more than $208,000. The amount of experience an individual has can influence the salary they receive. Their job location can also be an influence, as someone working in a city or region with a higher cost of living may receive a higher salary than an individual working in a city or region with a lower cost of living.

Additionally, the industry associated with the role may influence a person’s salary. For example, individuals working in the information industry had a 2021 median annual salary of $163,360, according to the BLS, whereas those working in the wholesale trade industry had a 2021 median annual salary of $103,030.

Advertising Manager Job Outlook

While it will vary by occupation, the overall employment of advertising managers is expected to grow 10% from 2020 to 2030, per the BLS. This number is slightly higher than the 8% growth the BLS projects for all professions. Part of the reason for this growth is the touting of digitally based media as the future of advertising, which means the demand for skilled professionals who are adept at building campaigns through websites and social media is expected to expand.

Start Your  Journey to Becoming an Advertising Manager

A career as an advertising manager can be an exciting, fulfilling one that stays in tune with current marketing and cultural trends. It’s a job uniquely positioned to influence public perception and heighten brand awareness, which can be challenging and invigorating in today’s technology-driven, fast-paced world.

Learn more about Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Arts in Communication program and how developing communication and media skills can help you build a strong foundation for a rewarding advertising career.

Recommended Reading

Effective Business Communication for Millennials and Gen Z

Future Communication Trends: An In-Depth Look

How Technology Has Changed Communication

Sources

American Marketing Association, “What Is a Digital Marketing Strategy?”

Chron, “Skills You Need for an Advertising Manager”

Indeed, Advertising Manager Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

O-Net, Advertising and Promotions Managers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers