Advertising Production Manager  What They Do

Just the Facts


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dotAdvertising production managers work to put advertisements in newspapers and magazines. They coordinate with the design, illustration and photography staff to prepare the ads. They may supervise other workers who do advertising layout.

Most publications have an advertising production manager. In large operations, the job is divided among many specialist workers. For smaller shops, the workers in this position often have additional responsibilities. Sales, public relations, marketing, design and editing are common additional responsibilities.

dotKaren Eskew is the production manager for the American Psychological Association. She designs and lays out all advertising printed material including the media kit and internal ads. She also designs client display ads, proofreads the classified ad section and is the liaison with the printers.

She's been involved in publishing for over 20 years and has seen the changes in how the work gets done. "Everything is so much faster," she says. Gone are the days of sending film through the mail for print ad photos, for instance.

These days, the work is done electronically. Advertisers send art files via e-mail, often in PDF format. File Transfer Protocol (FTP) allows users to upload large files and transfer data from one computer to another. The e-mailed art files are then used to produce ads.

Electronic communication has made it easier for last-minute changes to be made to ads. Advertising publication managers and designers can now send proofs back and forth to each other while working on an ad.

dotPaul Ellis works for a fashion magazine. Since he works for a small publication, he is also responsible for selling ad space in the magazine.

"I contact buyers and planners. They represent alcohol brands, trainers [athletic shoes], electronics or cell phones. We contact them directly or the advertising agency that represents them. I also contact stores, bars and restaurants directly to sell them ad space," he says.

Once the sale is made, the advertising agency sends an insertion order which indicates where in the magazine the ad should be placed. Ellis also receives a document with instructions. The magazine staff must place the ad in the magazine to suit the advertising client. For example, some advertisers don't like to be placed next to articles on fashion or technology -- they prefer placement near the editorials.

dotMost advertising production managers work from an office. They usually work eight-hour days Monday to Friday. Deadlines are very important in the industry. Overtime may be required.

"When things go wrong it doesn't matter whose fault it is -- the magazine needs to [be published]," says Eskew.

Eskew says she can't get too far away from the phone. She must be available to take calls from advertisers. As with any profession today e-mail plays a huge role. Publications are able to meet deadlines and be more efficient since a file can be submitted instantaneously.

"This job gives me a lot of freedom. I can go on holiday and still do my work while I'm away. I could be anywhere in the world, really, as long as I get the time changes right!" says Ellis. He is usually in the office about 20 hours a week, but works full-time hours when his work from home is included.

This job requires workers to sit at the computer and spend time on the phone. Networking is important.

"There's some schmoozing. You have to be able to go to events and meet people," says Ellis. "As long as you can communicate, anybody can do it."

At a Glance

Oversee the layout and placement of ads in a publication

  • Almost every publication will employ an advertising production manager
  • You must have an eye for design, excellent interpersonal skills and a good head for figures
  • Technology has changed this career