In the business of buying and selling digital media, no doubt the year to come will bring more stories, news pieces, predictions, and announcements about the migration to programmatic buying. All the hoopla reminds me a little bit about the early coming of the web, when predictions raged that web advertising would replace all the media before it: print, radio, TV, outdoor, direct mail, and on (yes, I've been in this business that long). And while there has certainly been a shift toward digital that has hurt some of those other media, so far, they manage to hold on to their place in a media plan...which brings me back to programmatic buying.
I've had a few conversations lately with industry folks who work outside of ad exchanges, and their thoughts have led me to write this piece. First, let me summarize these opinions:
Actually, there are a few companies trying to tackle this last observation: Centro, Mediaocean, and NextMark among them. I recently spoke with NextMark's founder and president Joe Pych about his thoughts on the human value of digital media planning.
The Swinging Pendulum
"This year, I see the pendulum swinging back away from exchanges because a lot of publishers are saying exchanges aren't working for them," says Pych. "In a very short period of time, exchanges have gone from 0 to 20 percent of processing ad spending, but that means that 80 percent is still being handled at the direct level. Why? Because humans - both on the buy and sell side of the business - add a lot of value. On the sales side, humans help explain different advertising options to the planner; on the buy side, humans help explain advertising choices to their clients. Humans really need to be elevated, not diminished, in this process."
"The problem lies in the complexity of the business (just look at the Luma charts to prove this)," continues Pych. "Whenever it gets simplified, as with exchanges, it gets more attractive to conduct business through."
Pych rattles off a list of problems when trying to buy direct:
Ad exchanges don't really address the workflow process either. "When we developed our Planner product, we did so after first talking to many planners and buyers to identify where they were experiencing the most pain," explains Pych. He didn't find pain in ad cost or improper targeting or real-time anything; he found pain in the process of buying - particularly at the independent agency level - so that's what he set out to fix...for free.
"Our tag line is 'Media planning made easy,'" says Pych. "When we debuted our platform at the iMedia conference, 50 agencies came up to us afterwards and expressed an interest in trying it. To me, that speaks volumes about the potential of this product."
Fellow planners, where does your opinion fall? I'd be curious to get your feedback, particularly if you've already been doing programmatic buying.
Human Value image on home page via Shutterstock.
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A ClickZ expert columnist since 2005, Hollis Thomases (@hollisthomases) is president and founder of Maryland-based WebAdvantage.net, an online marketing company that provides results-centric, strategic Internet marketing services, including online media planning, SEO, PPC campaign management, social media marketing, and Internet consulting. Author of Twitter Marketing: An Hour a Day and an award-winning entrepreneur, Hollis is the Maryland 2007 SBA Small Business Person of the Year. Hollis speaks extensively on online marketing, having presented for ClickZ, the American Marketing Association, SES, The Newsletter and Electronic Publishers Association, The Kelsey Group, and the Vocus Worldwide User Forum. WebAdvantage.net's client list has included Nokia USA, Nature Made Vitamins, Johns Hopkins University, ENDO Pharmaceuticals, K'NEX Construction Toys, and Visit Baltimore. The agency was recognized as a "Small Giant" by the Greater Baltimore Tech Council and was chosen as a "Best Place for Business Women to Work" by "Smart Woman Magazine."