Programmatic buying has dramatically changed the media buying landscape over the past few years. This emergence of new buying methods has shown that the essential skills for digital marketers and their overall approach to inventory has changed forever. The reality among marketers working in the field, however, is significantly different. The vast majority of in-house digital marketers and digital agencies alike have not stayed current with this new environment.
The Changing Sands of Media Buying
The traditional way of buying media is becoming largely extinct. In the past, media buyers worked with spreadsheets, RFPs, Insertion Orders, and negotiated directly and had a lot of interaction with the publishers. The rise of programmatic buying, however, is starting to shift the current state of media buying. Unlike the traditional media buying setup, programmatic streamlines the online buying and ad targeting processes, and it relies heavily on algorithms and big data. While still a relatively small part of media buying budgets, programmatic is expected to exponentially grow. Therefore, agencies and in-house digital marketers must update and improve their skill sets to stay current.
The New Required Skill Sets
When considering programmatic buying methods as the stimulus for this newly required skill set and behavior of digital media buyers/agencies, the five main media buying requirements of the future are the following:
- Setup and fluency in having direct access to ad inventory versus going through a vendor-based insertion order environment: Programmatic buying eliminates the need for working directly with vendors to buy ad inventory. In an age when efficiency matters, programmatic buying fills that efficiency need since it’s smarter and automated. People, however, are still required to analyze the inventories and ensure that right inventories are available
- Ability to execute audience-based campaign strategies and executions: One advantage of the new media buying techniques is the ability to find the right audience for campaigns. These targeted audiences, however, will require messaging and ads that are more personalized to their needs and wants. Developing campaigns will require more strategic planning and execution than just the blanket ads of the past.
- Deep analytical decision making capabilities for optimal campaign optimization: Agencies and digital marketers must embrace analytics. They’re now dealing with more data than ever before, and this data must be deeply analyzed to make good strategic decisions.
- High level of comfort with dealing in a myriad of technology systems to seamlessly operate a campaign in a technology ecosystem: Marketers must become “platform agnostic”, meaning that they must understand a wide variety of technologies and be able to evaluate and customize them for in-house use or clients.
- Understanding and urgency of real-time ability for optimization: Real-time Optimization (RTO) is an automated way of refining bid amounts and targeting based on algorithms to improve overall campaign ROI. Marketers need to fully understand how this system works and why it’s making certain recommendations and adjustments. Waiting too long to make these adjustments or allowing these adjustments to be automated without human intervention and review could mean the success or failure of campaigns.
What does all of this mean to you? Whether you are a marketer with an in-house team or you have an agency relationship, recognizing the unstoppable change of programmatic technology is essential. It is critical that you evaluate how prepared your team or your agency partner is when it comes to their approach to digital media. Are they conducting their planning, buying and optimization with approaches that have been around for many years or are they embracing the new change in the digital media landscape?
A radical new approach and setup to digital media buying is necessary to remain competitive and stay ahead of the competition. Drive the change now and you will very quickly see the fruit of this adjustment.