I had the opportunity to sit down with Ben Fox, EVP of Adconion Media Group's Magnify Platform, a few weeks back and we shared a long discussion on the future of many things digital. For the past year, Fox has been on the road sharing his thoughts on how digital media buying and selling infrastructure is evolving, not only in how money is being earmarked, but the impact of digital advertising on consumers and brands.
While there were a number of great takeaways from our conversation, Fox's overall perspective on the digital media buying process is invaluable. At the center of media buying today is that most advertisers need a combination of unique ad types, analytics, and targeting tools to get the job done. In short, it's nearly impossible to create a digital media buying "recipe" because each advertiser has different ingredients.
During the past decade the process used to get digital ads in front of target audiences has gone through a phenomenal evolution. The process of buying media directly from publishers has given way to automated systems that tie advertisers together with available inventory. Not only are today's ad ops faster, but generally more efficient, measurable, and effective.
However, at the core of everything that is advertising is the fundamental need to get the right message in front of the right consumers. Without that necessary first step, nothing else marketers do matters.
While audience targeting is the doorway into reaching the right consumers, it is the responsibility of today's media buying teams to make sure that the message being put forth by the creative teams is the message that the audience will be most interested in.
The main challenge here is that there is often a disconnect between what the creative team comes up with, what the media buying or automatic ad distribution systems are targeting against, and the real needs of the consumers who see the ads. If any particular link in the chain is too weak, the marketing just doesn't work.
Here are a few takeaways from my conversation with Fox that may help to strengthen the existing models over the next few years to assure that better targeting takes place automatically:
The networks, channels, value-added resellers, and demand-side platforms are going to change and the famous "LumaScapes" will continue to evolve as well. We're getting ever closer to automated systems that can get the right message to the right consumer every time but for now we still have a lot of planning to do.
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Rob Graham is the CCT (chief creative technologist) of Trainingcraft, Inc., where he heads up development of customized training programs for a wide range of digital marketing, entrepreneurial development, and digital media clients.
A 20 year veteran of digital media, Rob has served as the CEO of a multimedia development company; an interactive media strategist; a rich media production specialist; a Web analytics consultant; a corporate trainer and seminar leader; and a chief marketing officer.
When he isn't on the road presenting training workshops, Rob teaches at Harvard University, Emerson College, and the University of Massachusetts - Lowell where he teaches classes on Digital Media Development, Web Store Creation, Software Programming, Business Strategies, and Interactive Marketing Best Practices.
He is the author of "Fishing From a Barrel," a guide to using audience targeting in online advertising, and "Advertising Interactively," which explores the development and uses of rich-media-based advertising. He has been an industry columnist covering interactive marketing, digital media, and audience targeting topics since 1999.
March 19, 2014