The Ad Skool Experience: You Must Learn

After 10 weeks and an exam, I can say that I’ve completed one subject at Advertising School. I’m still waiting on the results, but I’m basically done with the subject “Media Buying & Planning” and advertising school in general.

When I came back to Australia at the end of Feb 2008, I decided to make a career change into marketing and advertising. So I knew I had to enrol in a marketing or advertising course. I looked around at the various options such as Uni courses, TAFE, etc… Unfortunately Uni enrolments had closed and after some research & talking to various people, I went with the AFA (Australian Federation Advertising) school. I just wanted to test out the subject and the only one I could enrol in without prerequsites was “Media Planning & Buying“. So I thought, why not? It was one subject in the advertising diploma, and if I was serious about advertising I knew it would be worth it.

I decided to invest in my own education and had to prepay $1600 for the subject. The subject actually required at least 1 year of media experience which I clearly didn’t have (but methinks the school liked the sound of my money).

The subject covered this concept of media planning and buying which was completely foreign to me. I had studied a basic undergraduate marketing course at uni, which really didn’t help at all. What this subject was about was developing media strategy, implementation, execution, and evaluation.

I understood the idea of having a creative idea for advertising. But this was about “where” you say the idea as opposed to the “what” you say. I did not realise this was a part of advertising at all and there were media agencies out there that helped you with this process.

One of the key things that I learnt in these classes was having a “core media idea’. It’s the idea that drives your whole strategy, kind of like an underlying theme. It defines where you place the media, time of day, formats & channels. It is developed from demographic and target market insights, product insights and is your idea on how to reach the target market.

I also learnt about the different media channels such as TV, Radio, Digital, Print, which was really interesting. We learnt about their properties such as cost, creative, reach and so on.

The best thing was that we had guest lecturer’s every couple of weeks. We had a communication specialist from Naked, a couple of advertising people Publicis Mojo, and a brainstorming guy from What If. This brought variety and differing expertise. It showed me how big and diverse the media industry was.

And speaking of diversity, the people in the class were from a wide range of backgrounds. A lot of them worked in media agencies such as Media:Edge, OMD, Advertising Advantage. Some were marketing people from corporates such as Mastercard, Playstation and Telstra.

Me? A former tax accountant from a Big 4 accounting firm 🙂

I must admit I was a bit worried when I was doing the course, as I knew nothing about media, let alone marketing. But I was nervous during the group assignments and classes – I was from a law and accounting background! However, I was active in class and for my group assignment, and spoke to the lecturer after class sometimes. I felt comfortable in the class and I didnt feel like others knew much more than me. I really appreciated my classmates that had the relevant work experience, because they offered interesting views and insights.

I would say that I’ve gained a fresh perspective on advertising and media, and learnt a ton of things I never had before. I really looked forward to the classes each week and the coolest thing was that I got to go inside an advertising agency. It gave me a real interest in digital media, which is the area that I’m working in now.

However, I must admit, I’m still a healthy skeptic of advertising. We are bombarded with something like 3,000 adverts a day and its not easy to get through that clutter to the consumer. Advertisers have to be more innovative and less intruding to consumers. I’ve developed a greater appreciation for advertising and the creativity and the thinking that goes behind it. And perhaps being a skeptic and developing a healthy immune system to advertising, will help me even more in this career because I can understand how consumers think about advertising.

I’m out like 2,999 ads.