If you read any of the advertising trades these days you are seeing strong evidence that programmatic buying is making significant strides in the media sector. Programmatic buying allows advertisers to have direct access to the publisher’s (and now the broadcaster’s) inventory, and transactions are completed in nanoseconds with very little human interaction. In the online display advertising sector, programmatic is already accounting for nearly half of all transactions and predictions are being made that over 83% of display advertising will be bought and sold programmatically by the year 2017. Advertisers and publishers are building out trading desks to accommodate this huge flow of business.
So far, those selling traditional media have felt some degree of insulation from this wave, but that is changing as well. Last week Media Post ran an article about the rise of “programmatic TV” and this week Inside Radio featured an article on how Strata has put together a platform and an agreement that allows advertisers direct access to inventory on a number of media platforms including radio. The future is now, folks.
So if you’re selling media, when will you be replaced by a computer? It’s hard to predict an exact date, but here are some guidelines that can tell you whether that date will be sooner or later:
If most of the work you do is based around quoting rates and providing inventory updates to agencies and advertisers, you are on the endangered species list. There is just too much momentum behind programmatic buying, and for good reason. Most computer trading desks can do the media buying job better, quicker, and certainly for a lot less money than can highly-paid transactional salespeople. As traditional media expenditures continue to lag and cost control becomes even more important than it is today, programmatic buying systems will be an irresistible option for media operators.
If most of the work you do is based on helping advertisers (and their agencies) identify Key Marketing Challenges and design tailored marketing solutions based on the unique circumstances of the moment, you will be preferred over a computer that merely negotiates clearances and pricing. Rest assured that some truths never change: Advertisers will still be looking for what they have always sought—a solution that zeroes in on the specific challenge they’re facing and delivers a profitable return on their investment. Data-crunching machines that can provide hyper-targeting and low cost-per-action in digital direct response advertising hold very strong appeal. But computers will not soon be capable of helping an advertiser define a problem or discover an unrealized opportunity in the marketplace or develop an idea to power a tailored solution. Can you do that? A trading desk cannot help establish a marketing strategy or a creative means to extend or apply an existing strategy. Can you do that? Technology cannot bring partners together, make smart recommendations about tactics that reinforce strategy, or produce compelling creative that speaks right to the benefits sought by the heavy user of the product or service. Can you do that? If your answer is yes, your future is bright.
Genuine concern for the customer, marketing savvy, and problem-solving capabilities were once an exceptional way of operating in the media sales space, the way we’d describe that rare, one-in-twenty salesperson who delivered the most value. Now it’s just a requirement for survival.
So when will you be replaced by whirring servers in a data center? You tell me.