Traffic Managers put in serious tenure with companies. On average, about eight years. The average is declining though, due to consolidation, down-sizing departments, hubbing and burn out from being over-worked. Some are content with a lifelong career in the Traffic Department. Others are seeking personal growth and advancement, but have found it difficult to get to that next level. Often times, you have only two choices: being a traffic coordinator or a traffic manager. Your career path may include becoming head of the traffic department or director of operations, but many in traffic feel like they have no way to advance. If you’re good at what you do, it’s in the company’s best interest to keep you in your cozy little niche. After years of doing Traffic, you may find that you have painted yourself in a corner. Not only in the company or industry you work for, but other industries as well. Traffic So how do you develop the expertise and skills to be known as the go-to gal or guy for TrafficTraffic without getting so tightly defined? Is it possible to fly the pigeonholing coop?
Spend some time observing and recognizing the boundaries that already surround you and the perception of you. Often, It’s easier for your manager to stay with what is easy and safe rather then letting you move up. You have to make it more compelling for the company to move you than to leave you parked right where you are. How do you do that?
Think process … not experience.
Focus on transferable skills. If you are good at Traffic, then you are good at process. You love the rhythm and discipline of ordering your world in a certain way. And you love looking for ways to improve every little thing you do, gaining every ounce of efficiency along the way. These are valuable skills that not a lot of people posses. Look around you. How might these traits serve your company in other ways? If you are less order and process driven and more social, perhaps you have a future in sales or marketing. If you just hate what you do in general, then it’s time to regroup and go do something else completely.
Yet, if you like scheduling ads, but are just unhappy with your situation, there are options. Scheduling ads is a process. Though the tools may be a little different from industry to industry, the basic underlying process in ad execution is the same. If you are in radio, you will find new challenges and possibly a higher salary in TV. Online radio is also a growing possibility. Or think about the internet and all the ads that are circulated in a day. People are scheduling all those online ads using the same process you use, just with different tools.
Seek an edge…
Seek out new skills and responsibilities irrespective of immediate reward and recognition. Digital is a great example and starting point. If you are not currently involved in the trafficking of digital assets for your company …. volunteer. Two reasons.
First, it’s the direction we are heading. Traditional media is slow to react, but if you don’t think online and mobile advertising is going to be a very large part of what you do in a few years, you are in for a surprise. Do you know the very basics? Do you know the difference between CPM, CPC and CPA? Do you have knowledge of online ad serving platforms? Like with anything, if you don’t keep up and seek an edge, the learning curve will be steep or you will just be left behind.
Second, it will broaden your skills and opportunity for growth. Perhaps you do want to make that jump to online ad operations. Higher salaries. On average, $10,000 higher per year. More career paths. You may have to start as a junior ad trafficker, moving to senior ad trafficker to yield (inventory) analyst on up to director of ad operations. The jump won’t be easy though. The process has its similarities, but the culture, technology growth and language are very different. You need to begin … today …. to educate yourself.
Lastly, and most importantly … you have to speak up. Nobody knows how smart you are unless you show them. Seize opportunities to offer your valuable input. You do the job every day. You are the expert. Seize opportunities to let people know what your dreams and ambitions are. You can’t become apathetic about your situation if you don’t express or ask for what you want. You may have to take a slower path. You may have to work twice as hard to get there. But it might be possible. You never know, you might just have a manager that has a vested interest in your future.
a few interesting stats…
Average salary for traditional media traffic = $43,000
Traditional media (traffic) job satisfaction = 63% (that’s a failing grade)
Average salary for online ad trafficker = $55,000
Online job satisfaction – unknown at the time, but I will find it!