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Tag Archives: DSPs

4 Questions That Can Impact Your Digital Buys

15 Nov

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According to eMarketer, in 2017 advertisers will spend 38.3% of their ad budgets on digital media – in excess of $223 billion on a worldwide basis. Yet, in spite of the significant share-of-wallet represented by digital media, there is generally little introspection on the part of the advertiser.

Looking beyond the “Big 3” [ad fraud, safe brand environment and viewability concerns], the lack of introspection begins much closer to home. Simply, in our experience, client-agency Agreements do not adequately address digital media planning and placement roles, responsibilities, accountability or remuneration details.

Standard media Agreement language does not adequately cover digital media needs. By this we mean specific rules and financial models need to be included in Agreement language that cover each potential intermediary involved in the buying process and to guarantee transparent reporting is provided to the advertiser. It is our experience that Agreement language gaps related to “controls” can be much costlier to advertisers than the aggregate negative impact of the Big 3.

And, regardless of Agreement language completeness, a compounding factor is that too few advertisers monitor their agencies compliance to these very important Agreement requirements. To assess whether or not your organization is at risk, consider the following four questions:

  1. Can you identify each related parties or affiliate that your ad agency has deployed on your business to manage your digital spend?
  2. Does your Agreement include comprehensive compensation terms pertaining to related parties, affiliates and third-party intermediaries, that handle your digital ad spend?
  3. Is your agency acting as a Principal when buying any of your digital media?
  4. What line of sight do you have into your ACTUAL media placements and costs?

If you answered “No” to any of the questions, then there is a high likelihood that your digital media budget is not being optimized. Why? Because the percentage of your digital media spend that pays for actual media inventory is likely much lower than it should be, which is detrimental to the goal of effectively using media to drive brand growth.

Dollars that marketers are investing to drive demand are simply not making their way to the marketplace. Often a high percentage of an advertiser’s digital media spend is stripped off by agencies, in-house trading desks and intermediaries who have been entrusted to manage those media buys. A recent study conducted by AD/FIN and Ebiquity on behalf of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) estimated that fees claimed by digital agencies and ad tech intermediaries, which it dubbed the programmatic “technology tax” could exceed 60% of an advertiser’s media budget. This suggests that less than 40 cents of an advertiser’s investment is actually spent on media.

A good place to begin is to ask your agency to identify any and all related parties that play a role when it comes to the planning, placement and distribution of your digital media investment. This includes trading desk operations, affiliates specializing in certain types of digital media (i.e. social, mobile) and third-party intermediaries being utilized by the agency (i.e. DSPs, Exchanges, Ad Networks, etc.). The goal is to then assess whether or not the agency and or its holding company has a financial interest in these organizations or are earning financial incentives for media activity booked through those entities.

Why should an advertiser care whether or not their agency is tapping affiliates or focusing on select intermediaries to handle their digital media? Because each of those parties are charging fees, commissions or mark-ups for services provided, most of which are not readily detectable. This raises the question of whether or not the advertiser is even aware charges are being levied against data, technology, campaign management fees, bid management fees and other transactional activities. Are such fees appropriate? Duplicative? Competitive? All good questions to be addressed.

When it comes to how an agency may have structured an advertiser’s digital media buys, there is ample room for concern. Is the affiliate is engaged in Principal-based buying (media arbitrage)? Is digital media being placed on a non-disclosed basis, versus a “cost-disclosed” basis where the advertiser has knowledge of the actual media costs being charged by the digital media owner?

Evaluating your organization’s “risk” when it comes to digital media is important, particularly in light of the findings of the Association of National Advertiser’s (ANA) “Media Transparency” study released in 2016, which identified agency practices regarding non-transparent revenue generation that reduces an advertiser’s working media investment.

The best place to start is a review of your current client-agency Agreements, to ensure that the appropriate language safeguards are incorporated into the agreement in a clear, non-ambivalent manner. Once in place, monitoring your agency and its affiliates compliance to those contract terms and financial management standards is imperative if you want to assure compliance, while significantly boosting performance. 

“Today, knowledge has power. It controls access to opportunity and advancement.” ~ Peter Drucker     

Interested in learning more about safeguarding your digital media investment? Contact Cliff Campeau, Principal, AARM | Advertising Audit & Risk Management at ccampeau@aarmusa.com for a complimentary consultation on this important topic.

 

Has the ads.txt Program Been Corrupted by Bad Actors?

13 Nov

fundingIs this a sad state of affairs or what? Ad tech firms, programmatic agencies, ad networks and resellers are actively trying to game the ads.txt system to further their own agendas. The sole reason that the industry got behind the implementation of ads.txt was to safeguard advertisers from domain spoofing and unauthorized inventory selling.

For these stakeholders to view this as an opportunity to manipulate the guidelines to drive their fees and or reseller revenue is inappropriate. Sadly, these actions shine a light on the number of “middlemen” firms operating between advertisers and publishers, and focused on their self interest are detrimental to reforming the digital media marketplace. Ad agencies, programmatic trading desks, DSPs, exchanges, ad networks, resellers, SSPs… what a mess. Can programmatic digital survive? Read More

Exchanges and DSPs Engaged in a Price War. Who Knew?

10 Nov

scam adsInteresting question for advertisers; “Were you aware that your agency was paying its ad tech partners (Exchanges, DSPs) fees equivalent to 20% to 24% of your digital media investment?” Further, did you know that an exchange operating as both a DSP and an SSP can lower its fees on its SSP platform to incent its DSP to route demand to their exchange.

Ironically, while this is totally self-serving, it is being merchandised to  advertisers as “Supply Path Optimization.” What it really is, is a method for building ad tech revenues at the expense of working media.

Not occurring on your watch? For grins, ask your digital media agency to arrange a visit with you to review the vendor billing detail from their ad tech partners. Of note, if they agree to share this information, which they may not, that invoicing won’t likely identify the fees being charged. So why all the secrecy? Read More

Has Programmatic Been Poisoned Beyond Repair

05 Oct

gsk decision ignites firestormWhen it comes to programmatic digital the rush to employ new technology, without proper vetting or oversight combined with the number of layers between the advertiser and the content provider (i.e. agency, trading desk, DSP, exchange,SSP, publisher) was a recipe for disaster. Toss in a healthy dose of greed and the potential of programmatic was compromised from the onset.

Excellent piece from Tim Burrowes at Mumbrella on the fallout from Martin Cass’ panel discussion at Ad Week in NYC and professor Mark Ritson’s perspective on the future of programmatic  Read More

What if You Discovered That Your Digital Dollar Netted You a Dime’s Worth of Digital Media?

12 Feb

dimeIn 2014, the World Federation of Advertisers conducted a study which demonstrated that “only fifty-four cents of every media dollar in programmatic digital media buying” goes to the publisher, with the balance being divvied up by agency trading desks, DSPs and ad networks.

Fast forward to the spring of 2016 and a study by Technology Business Research (TBR) suggested that “only 40% of digital buys are going to working media.” TBR reported that 29% went to fund agency services and 31% to cover the cost of technology used to process those buys.

Where does the money go? For programmatic digital media, the advertiser’s dollar is spread across the following agents and platforms:

  • Agency campaign management fees
  • Technology fees (DMP, DSP, Adserving)
  • Data/Audience Targeting fees
  • Ad blocking pre/post
  • Verification (target delivery, ad fraud, brand safety)
  • Pre-bid & post-bid evaluation fees

It should be noted that the fees paid to the above providers are exclusive of fees and mark-ups added by SSPs, exchanges or publishers that are blind to both ad agencies and advertisers. What? That is correct. Given the complex nature of the digital ecosystem, impression level costs can be easily camouflaged by DSPs and SSPs. Thus, most advertisers (and their agencies) do not have a line-of-sight into true working media levels…even if they employ a cost-disclosed programmatic buying model (which is rare).

Take for example the fact that a large preponderance of programmatic digital media is placed on a real-time bidding or RTB basis, and a majority of that, is executed using a second-price auction methodology. With second-price auctions, the portion of the transaction that occurs between a buyer’s bid and when the clearing price is executed without advertiser or agency visibility, thus allowing exchanges to apply clearing or bid management fees and mark-ups as they see fit. So for example, if two advertisers place a bid for inventory, one at $20 per thousand and the other at $15 per thousand, the advertiser who placed the higher bid of $20 would win, but the “sale price” would be only one-cent more than the next highest bid, or $15.01. However, advertisers are charged the “cleared price,” (could be as high as $20 in this example) which is determined after the exchange applies clearing or bid management fees. How much you ask? Only the exchanges know and this is information not readily shared.

Earlier this month Digiday ran an article entitled, “We Go Straight to the Publisher: Advertisers Beware of SSPs Arbitraging Media” which profiled a practice used by supply-side platforms (SSPs) that “misrepresent themselves.” How? By “reselling inventory and misstating which publishers they represent.” The net effect of this practice allow the exchanges an opportunity to “repackage and resell inventory” that they don’t actually have access to for publishers that they don’t have a relationship with.

Let’s look beyond programmatic digital media. Consider the findings from a Morgan Stanley analyst, reported in a New York Times article in early 2016 that stated that, “In the first quarter of 2016, 85 cents of every new dollar spent in online advertising will go to Google or Facebook.” What is significant here is that until very recently, these two entities have self-reported their performance, failing to embrace independent, industry accredited resources to verify their audience delivery numbers.  

The pitfalls of publisher self-reporting came to light this past fall when Facebook was found to have vastly overstated video viewing metric to advertisers for a period of two years between 60% and 80%.  

By the time one factors in the impact of fraud and non-human viewing, and or inventory that doesn’t adhere to digital media buying guidelines and viewability standards, it’s easy to understand the real risk to advertisers and the further dilution of their digital working media investment.

Advertisers have every right to wonder what exactly is going on with their digital media spend, why the process is so opaque and why the pace of industry progress to remedy these concerns has seemingly been so slow. Sadly, in spite of the leadership efforts of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), The ISBA, The Association of Canadian Advertisers and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) there is still much work to be done.

The question that we have continually raised is, “With advertisers continuing to allocate an ever increasing level of their media share-of-wallet to digital, where is the impetus for change?” After all, in spite of all of the known risks and the lack of transparency, the inflow of ad dollars has been nothing short of spectacular. According to eMarketer, digital media spend in the U.S. alone for 2016 eclipsed $72 billion and accounted for 37% of total media spending.

There are steps that advertisers can take to both safeguard and optimize their digital media investment. Interested in learn more? Contact Cliff Campeau, Principal of AARM | Advertising Audit & Risk Management at ccampeau@aarmusa.com for a complimentary consultation. After all, as Warren Buffett once said:

“Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.”

Client-Agency Erosion

26 May

feature2-value-basedcompensationWritten by J. Francisco Escobar, President & Founder – JFE International Consultants, Inc. and originally published by Connote Magazine on October, 31, 2014.

WHY WE NEED TO RESTORE THE MOMENTUM OF TRUST IN THE PROCUREMENT ERA

Much change has taken place in the marketing services industry since the year 2000. The advent of the “Procurement Era” along with two severe economic shocks—the dot-com bust and, more recently, the “Great Recession”—have taken a toll on the most important component of marketing services relationships: the element of trust. Three major areas are responsible for this erosion of trust between marketing clients and their agency partners—transparency, equity, and the interpretation of value. Without agreement on standards and guidelines in these vital areas, individual marketers have been left to their own devices, while individual agencies have been somewhat defenseless against a hodge-podge of interpretations and practices that threaten the very fabric of commerce.

TRANSPARENCY

As the spend-based commission system has become virtually irrelevant as a total form of agency compensation, the predominant use of labor-based models has opened the door to client-side procurement and strategic sourcing to exploit transparency in the interest of lowering the cost of services. The use—or, rather, misuse—of benchmarks, all in an attempt to get agencies to fully disclose their proprietary financial information and business economics, has at times been ludicrous. What our industry clearly needs are rules of the road for what is acceptable and unacceptable, in what may be called “limited full disclosure.”

Trust is eroded when a client feels like its agency is withholding information, or when an agency feels like its client is over-reaching (e.g., requesting individual salaries).

We must heed the wise words of business guru Peter Drucker from his 1954 classic, The Practice of Management, “… the purpose of business is to create and keep a customer; the business enterprise has two—and only two—basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.” So long as we allow relationship stakeholders to view marketing as a cost to be reduced rather than an investment to be optimized, the issue of inappropriate financial transparency and benchmarking will NOT go away.

More recently, the subject of transparency has been at the center of two burning issues in media remuneration—rebates and programmatic buying. The former is an age-old controversy, and the latter a new-age dilemma.

REBATES

Media rebates are a totally normal and acceptable business practice in many countries. In some cases, they are the dominant form of income for media agencies. Thus, it boils down to just two issues of transparency in any given client/agency relationship. First, has the media agency disclosed to its client the markets in which it is receiving rebates? Second, has the client expressly written into its agency contract(s) how rebates will be treated? A lack of either disclosure or specific contractual language creates an opportunity for, and perception of, foul play.

PROGRAMMATIC BUYING

In the rapidly expanding digital media space, programmatic buying, real-time bidding, and other activities generated by demand-side platforms (DSPs) have created significant revenue growth opportunities for technology providers and a host of marketing/media services providers. The capital investment required by these firms to play in this exchange marketplace is significant, coupled with the clear risk associated with carrying media “inventory.”

Large players in the industry have taken differing positions on the financial transparency of their “trading” companies, from full to very limited disclosure of profitability on individual and cumulative transactions. There is currently no right or wrong answer; it is up to individual clients and agencies to ensure they are having sufficient dialogue in this area so that there is a clear understanding about current business practices as it relates to their unique relationship. Anything less will keep a client wondering if they are being exploited, further eroding trust.

EQUITY

There is no greater enemy to trust than the lack of equity in a relationship. When it comes to assessing fairness in client/agency relationships, one needs to look no further than the contractual agreement between the parties. While there are way too many instances to discuss the subject of equity in contractual matters, there are three areas where the greatest transgressions take place.

  1. AUDIT

When a client/ agency relationship begins to exhibit trust issues, the contract is unearthed to ascertain what is contained in the audit provision. It is vitally important that this provision be so unambiguous as to not be subject to liberal interpretation by either party. At minimum, audit provisions should include the following:

  • Reasonable notice period and conducted during business hours
  • Require an audit plan with clear objectives shared with agency beforehand
  • Auditors under nondisclosure with agency
  • Mutually acceptable external audit firm, not compensated on a contingency basis
  • Restrictions — no access to personnel data, agency overhead/profit, other client data
  • Limited to one audit every 365 days (unless there is evidence of contractual breach)
  • Findings favoring agency go to offset findings that favor client
  • Audit results shared with agency prior to finalizing report to client
  • Reasonable length of time in which audit may take place after termination (1 – 2 years)
  1. COMPETITIVE EXCLUSIVITY
    While there are certain untenable competitive situations—such as Coke/Pepsi, AT&T/Verizon, and Home Depot/Lowe’s—most others are often 80 percent perception and 20 percent reality. A well-written and equitable exclusivity clause should force the client to list its competitive concerns. Additionally, these restrictions should apply mostly to identifiable key agency personnel on the staffing plan. And, most importantly, the clause should bring the parties together in dialogue.
  2. PAYMENT TERMS
    Without exception, there is no more contentious, damaging, and inequitable issue facing our industry today than that of payment terms. A little history sets the stage. In 2004, the merger between Belgium-based company Interbrew and Brazilian brewer AmBev created the brewing company InBev. Within two years’ time, InBev embarked on an ambitious global cost-reduction initiative which centered around a movement to unilateral 120-day payment terms across its entire supply base.

InBev’s acquisition of Anheuser-Busch in 2008 brought this issue to the U.S. and started a domino effect across the largest global packaged goods companies, and the industry as a whole. Although several industry groups are working to address the issue directly, there has been no concerted effort to denounce this practice as patently unfair and damaging to the service provider community, and ultimately the overall marketer ecosystem.

How can it be that companies whose current cash position may exceed the market capitalization of the biggest marketing services holding companies expect to extend cash payments, particularly in the current low interest rate environment on cash deposits? And even more ironic is the concept of cash neutrality in master service agreements, where large advertisers expressly define it as what it truly is and then choose to apply it only to the cash management of media expenses between themselves, agencies, and media owners, but not to fees, production, or third-party expenditures.

VALUE

The notion of value has become central to the dialogue as the industry makes attempts to get away from payment based on people’s time to that of results generated by agencies’ deliverables. But who ultimately defines value and, more importantly, who determines it?

Two bellwether companies, representing the largest marketer and most valuable brand in the world, respectively, have taken it upon themselves to lead the industry with “value-based” compensation models. Sadly, both of them miss the mark on an interpretation and application of value that would engender and foster trust with their agency supplier partners.

In both cases, payment is initially determined by historical labor-based models and adjusted based on each company’s definition of value. Then, the ultimate determination of value is once again solely the purview of the client, with a significant component being a subjective, qualitative evaluation of agency performance.

The real benefit in these two models is purely on the buyer’s side. On one hand, creating a general contractor model removes internal/external cost, which then eliminates multiple touch points, transactions, and negotiations. But efficiencies are gained by managing agencies via menu pricing and standardized spreadsheets.

To their credit, both companies have continued to enhance their respective models since their joint introduction in 2009, but neither appears to have budged in the direction of increased collaboration on the definition and determination of value.

Value, like transparency and equity, has to be a two-way street. Nothing could be more productive in client/agency relationships than the dialogue that is created between the parties to mutually define success and value for their unique “marriage.” And even more interesting is when actual monetary value can be tied to the accomplishment of collaboratively devised objectives. When a client and agency can agree to a scope of services that relate to realistically achievable objectives, and the agency is able to exceed them, then you have true incremental value that should be rewarded accordingly. It’s not rocket science or brain surgery, but it does require a commitment by both parties to put in the necessary effort, energy, and time to ensure a fair and honest playing field. Doing so can only serve to encourage and restore trust.

AN INDUSTRY CALL TO ACTION

Restoring a momentum of trust in the marketing services industry calls for explicit, concerted action by the major industry associations.

We desperately need collaboratively developed standards and guidelines governing the critical issues of transparency and equity in client/agency relationships. Conversely, value should remain a nut for individual, involved parties to crack. Given the uniqueness of each and every engagement between marketers and their supplier-partners, every significant statement of services or statement of work (SOW) between the parties must contain a specific section addressing the mutual expectations of transparency, equity, and value.

Francisco Escobar is a business management advisor to global advertisers and agencies in the marketing services industry. He speaks internationally on issues surrounding marketing procurement and optimizing business relationships. If you are interested in learning more about “restoring the momentum of trust” in your client/agency relationships contact Francisco at (214) 728-6903 or via email at francisco@jfeintl.com.

Technology Companies Are the New Media Owners

01 Apr

technology firms as media ownersBy Oliver Orchard, Senior Client Director – EMM International 

This week I was fortunate to attend a debate in the British Parliament, The House of Commons.  The debate was hosted by the International Advertising Association (IAA) and organised by The Debating Group.   The IAA was formed in the 1930’s to help advertisers who were moving more and more towards export trade to understand the complexities of the different global ad markets. EMM’s staff are encouraged to take an interest in the work of the IAA, and we put many people through the residential training courses, with some of our senior staff holding committee positions.  The remit today is very much about helping to develop the client and agency heavyweights of the future, through networking, training and support.  The Debating Group has been holding debates in the House of Commons since 1975, and they regularly bring politicians, journalists and marketers together to discuss the political issues that surround marketing; and together they host a number of debates annually for the industry to participate in. 

The motion “Technology Companies are the new media owners” was supported by Rory Sutherland, Executive Creative Director and Vice Chairman of O&M and seconded by Anjali Ramachandran, Head of Innovation at PHD.  It was opposed by Hugo Rifkind of the Times and Chad Wollen, Group Head of Innovation and Commercial Futures at Vodafone. 

Rory and Anjali focused on the idea that ever since the Caxton Press printed the first secular work technology has always been the new media owner; whilst Hugo and Chad focused on the idea that media owners display some sort of moral conscience, or in some way better the world, through editorial.  Naturally, with Hugo’s work as a journalist this focused on print media and the role of Twitter and Google in events such as the Arab spring; though what sort of conscience media owners such CBS Outdoor, Exterion or Decaux demonstrate was conveniently overlooked.  Chad explored the idea that the message is separate to the medium; which as any junior planner will tell you is exactly why they have a job. 

The panel spoke eloquently for 40 minutes, and ultimately the motion was defeated. I voted against it myself, though with a different line of argument I feel the result would have been very different. 

The proposers missed a trick by ignoring media agency trading desks, DSPs, SSPs, RTB and inventory wholesaling.  Media agencies are the new technology companies, they are also the new media owners.  This situation is becoming more and more apparent to advertisers.  Many are scrambling to change their contracts in order to maximise their returns on the ‘good’ output of these technologies (the fantastic targeting and pricing), whilst seeking to limit the ‘negatives’  (unaccountable placements, lack of evidence of genuine exposures and the opaque margins anecdotally between 20% and 80% depending on quality of placement as one rather inebriated global head of a big five DSP network let slip to me recently). 

These technologies are increasingly supplanting the traditional agency/vendor relationship and are replacing transparency with opaqueness in an unprecedented way.  The share of digital on the schedule grows every year, the number of clients with a DSP clause in their contract grows weekly and every day traditional media channels become more and more digitalised.

Clients are often under-informed about these developments and contractually deficient when it comes to agency scopes. So what can you do? 

  1. Make sure that your contract with the agency is updated every year to cover all new technologies that might emerge – mobile advertising, RTB and interactive TV were all unthinkable until quite recently.
  2. Employ a specialist with a broad helicopter view of the market to ensure you are giving and receiving best practise in your process and relationships with the agencies for traditional and new media.
  3. Ensure you understand fully what the benefits and limitations are of new technologies.  With a recent study showing that just 8% to 15% of impressions online are actually “real” does that CPM deal really offer the best value?
  4. Understand which data is relevant and which is not.  Don Peppers, the social media guru, once said “trying to extract relevant data from digital is like putting a fire hose in your mouth when you’re thirsty” – it’s easy to be blinded by numbers, but in reality very few of them are important.
  5. Don’t go it alone, a market specialist can save you time and money by getting to the point, training your staff, and sitting on your shoulder during important future strategic discussion with the agency. Once you understand the game, ask the right questions, and make informed decisions, increased effectiveness will follow.

Some technology companies are the new media owners, they also happen to be your media agency.

To learn more about EMM International and how media accountability can drive advertiser value, contact guest blogger Oliver Orchard at Oli.Orchard@emminternational.comMr. Orchard is a Senior Client Director for EMM International and a key contributor to the company’s digital media accountability practice.  EMM is a provider of international media auditing and media optimization consulting services.  The company is based in London, England.   

 

 

How Will Programmatic Media Buying Impact the Role of Agency Media Buyers?

07 Jan

One of the biggest trends in media buying is occurring within the online display advertising segment, the rapid expansion of programmatic buying.  Ironically, few advertisers have delved into the intricacies of this approach and its impact on the stewardship of their media buys.

In short, programmatic buying is the execution of online media buys utilizing quant technology, demand side software interfaces and algorithms to book, analyze and optimize display ad campaigns, often on a real-time basis.  The RTB exchanges, ad exchanges, demand side platforms (DSPs) and sell-side platforms (SSPs) were initially utilized by publishers to move remnant display space.  However, given the success of programmatic media buying, there is a growing push by agencies and ad exchanges to encourage publishers to expose more, if not all of their inventory, including premium inventory with guaranteed impression delivery which is currently sold on a direct basis. 

Why?  The use of programmatic buying yields a number of benefits ranging from enhanced targeting, the ability to select desired rather than bundled impressions, price clarity and enhanced agency control.  Programmatic buying is a more efficient means for agencies to place and manage media buys.  The processes and workflows affiliated with programmatic buying software solutions allow for improved analytics while yielding significant operational efficiencies for ad agencies, chiefly related to time savings.  Furthermore, they can also integrate with other financial and marketing automation platforms which work across paid, owned and earned media channels. 

The concept of selectively targeting users based upon behavior and projected responses to campaign inputs and to dynamically allocate resources based upon near real-time analysis of reams of data tied to a campaign’s objectives is appealing.  Demand side platforms make decisions for an advertiser based upon inventory availability, pricing, placement data, context and other decision making algorithms that align the advertiser’s media plan, budget and campaign KPIs.  Hence, the potential of programmatic buying to enhance the effectiveness of an advertiser’s media investment and to positively impact their return on marketing investment could be substantial.  Thus, it is no surprise that many stakeholders are already talking about the potential expansion of this concept to cover a higher percentage of online media activity and even extending its application to other media types such as television and print. 

The application of new technology that can effectively leverage “Big Data” to make better resource allocation decisions and evolving media marketplaces that dynamically match seller inventory with buyer demand has tremendous potential.  In fact, most would agree that this is a “game changer.”  Who wouldn’t be supportive?  The question to be addressed in the context of programmatic buying is, “What is the impact on the role of media buyers in the placement and stewardship of a client’s media buy?”  Further, how does an advertiser benefit from the realized “operational efficiencies” generated by programmatic buying that currently accrue to the advertising agencies and publishers?  Perhaps more importantly, “How will this automated approach to media buying and stewardship impact the role of agency media buyers?”

Today, marketers pay a premium in the form of agency fees and commissions for digital media buying relative to those paid for traditional media.  If technology is ushering in a more efficient, more automated form of buy management should advertisers be paying more, or less?  For some of the more progressive client organizations, the question may even be, “Should we utilize an agency at all or purchase media directly via electronic exchanges?”  The potential for disintermediation is very real in this context.  The challenge for media agencies will be to redefine the role of their media buying organizations in an evolving media marketplace to clearly identify how and where their buying staffs add value.  It is likely that their future role will be more strategic, giving way to technology to handle the basics of media execution such as the placement, monitoring, analyzing and adjustment of buys.  That being said, there are media buyer generational issues which will require training and development to school agency media buying professionals on emerging programmatic buying platforms and electronic exchanges.  All stakeholders can benefit from the perspective of Bill Gates when it comes to the promise of technological advancement:

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”

Exciting times to be sure.  Will there be challenges for clients, agencies, publishers and media workflow and data management system providers?  Absolutely.  But in the end, all have the opportunity to benefit from a rapidly evolving and much needed evolution in the way media buys are executed and optimized. 

Interested in discussing the impact of programmatic buying on your client/agency letter of agreement, staffing plans and remuneration system?  Contact Cliff Campeau, Principal at AARM at ccampeau@aarmusa.com for a complimentary consultation. 

 

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