In advertising agencies, there are several departments that must work together efficiently in order to fulfill the requests of the clients. Every job that comes into the agency must flow through these departments on time, and it is the traffic manager’s responsibility to make sure that happens.
The traffic manager will create detailed schedules, set deadlines at each stage of the project, and will also make sure that work is distributed equally and fairly between creative teams and other departments. If too much work is coming into the agency, and resources are in short supply, the traffic manager can work with account services and the creative department to move deadlines, or hire additional help in the form of freelancers and temporary contractors. The traffic manager will constantly monitor this process, often with the help of a trafficking system, and will be able to make adjustments accordingly.
The traffic manager can also work closely with the media director to strategize media budgets and ad placement. When the traffic manager does their job correctly, they will be considered a quiet hero. Everything is running smoothly, due to their schedules and input, and the client is happy. When the traffic manager does a poor job, everyone notices. Deadlines are not met, rush fees are paid, teams are overworked, and clients can quit the agency due to the logistical mess. It’s a very important role. You can expect to work late, come in early, and be available on weekends.
As with any position in advertising, salary varies greatly depending on location and experience. However, according to Salary.com, the median base salary for a typical advertising traffic manager is $80,614. When taking into account bonuses and benefits, that median figure rises to $108,598. It’s a well-paid job, but of course, comes with the pressures you would expect for that kind of salary.
Traffic managers are very organized and detail-oriented. As a traffic manager, you will be expected to lead people and teams under tight deadlines and will need to be cool under pressure. You should be a people-person, as much of your daily duties will revolve around interaction with different members of each department. You should be good at problem-solving, and also be proficient in traffic management software.
Education and Training
A traffic manager will be expected to have a bachelor’s degree in the field of advertising, marketing, or some other business-related field. However, as is often the case, considerable agency experience, especially in traffic management or project management, will be considered.
The traffic manager’s job is not an easy one. On any given day, dozens of new projects may need to be scheduled, and it is the traffic manager’s responsibility to keep everything running smoothly, despite the constant changes and demands of the agency. On any given day, the traffic manager will:
- Meet with the heads of departments to learn about the status of existing projects, and details about new projects coming into the agency.
- Create a schedule for new jobs, and assign those tasks using the trafficking system in place (this is usually done with software, and many tasks are automated).
- Review current and future timelines and job statuses with the heads of department, and if necessary, the individuals working on the jobs.
- Reschedule projects based on new or changing priorities. This often happens when clients initiate rush jobs, or the agency becomes involved in a pitch.
- Report to management about the current workflow, and communicate any possible issues with too much, or too little, work coming into the agency.
- Work with the accounting and production departments on invoicing, and possible additional costs due to rush fees, or unexpected deadlines.
- Work with freelancers and temporary contractors, getting them up to speed on jobs they will assist with.
Getting a Job
Traffic managers start at the bottom and work their way up. You will not be given the role of traffic manager fresh out of college unless it is a very small agency with only a handful of employees. Most likely, you will be employed as an assistant to the current traffic manager and will help in scheduling projects, talk to clients and agency staff, and update the traffic manager with status reports.
The traffic manager is an important role in the advertising agency, and as such, you will be looked upon as valuable to the company. This means you can expect to go on regular training seminars, travel to locations to assist in scheduling, and have a voice in the way the agency is operated. Traffic managers can often become directors of companies.