Five ways automated advertising is changing the media

Correction: This article was initially incorrectly attributed to Jay Stevens, head of international expansion at Rubicon Project. The correct attribution is Adele Hanzlicek, Australian country manager, Rubicon Project. 

Automated advertising is hard to summarise briefly. And in a space still sadly dominated by jargon and three letter acronyms, clarity comes at a premium. Adele Hanzlicek explains why automation is not as complicated as some would have you believe.

Automation is about replacing phones, fax and Excel with smart, digital platforms. It makes buying and selling advertising faster and more cost-effective. It uses technology to lower fixed costs and overheads. A key benefit is enabling your workforce to be more productive. More than that, it lets your people focus less time on admin, more on creative tasks and campaigns that drive results, and higher order values.

Automated advertising is hard to summarise briefly – but it’s about all of these things and more. And it’s already mainstream in many markets: in the US, for instance, where the IAB has reported that 98% of sellers have a ‘programmatic strategy’ already in place. In the UK meanwhile, reports suggest that 46% of digital advertising spend was already automated last year.

But what is perhaps less well known about this technology is its flexibility, and the variety of different uses it is already being put to – five of which I explain below, along with how they are changing the face of advertising and the media as we know it:

 

1. Data-driven deals

It has long been observed that sellers are sitting on a treasure trove of highly valuable, unique user data. But effective, safe ways of packaging that data with the media itself were always lacking, and challenging to scale. That is until private marketplaces came to market.

With the emergence of these programmatically traded, 1:1 business deals, sellers were able to package first party data with inventory and command higher yields. Meanwhile buyers were able to add an additional layer of targeting to their campaigns across premium sellers’ sites and mobile applications.

 

2. Lead generation and buyer intelligence

What does lead gen look like in an advertising context? DailyMotion VP of International Media Sales Damien Pigasse describes the technology as a ‘barometer’ which it uses to determine the size of each country’s ad market, and whether it makes financial sense to put salespeople on the ground there.

Even for the less globally focussed, there are local benefits too. A number of sellers have used real-time bidding data to identify new clients, both from buyers bidding on as well as buying their inventory in the open auction.

From the open auction, a seller could then open a direct conversation with the buyer around striking higher value, 1:1 private marketplace deals, and even cross-media deals incorporating mobile, video and print.

 

3. Publisher trading desks

As sellers become more confident in their use of advertising technology, and begin to take back more control from third parties, publisher trading desks are in many ways the next step in their programmatic evolution.

‘Publisher trading desk’ is really just a convoluted way of saying the seller is extending their audience across other sites and apps. In other words, broadening their reach (and potential revenues) by selling their audience both on their own properties, as well as others.

There are already a handful of sellers who are successfully putting this approach into action. A few case studies include De Telegraaf in the Netherlands, the Danish Publisher Network in Denmark and the Guardian in the UK.

 

4. Multiplatform Campaign Delivery

Consumers are splitting their time across a growing number of screens and devices. It’s quite natural then that advertisers should want their campaigns to reflect that. In fact, more than half of ad budgets will go to multi-screen campaigns within the next year, according to a 2013 report by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and Nielsen.

But are the tools we traditionally use to buy and sell advertising built with this multiplatform world in mind?

The answer is probably not, especially since many of them (phone, excel or even fax) predate the internet itself.

Meanwhile, automated advertising technologies are increasingly offering single buying and selling points for inventory, cross-platform.

Where multiscreen campaigns in the past have been hampered by siloed data and long-winded workflows, these single buying points promise to make them easier to execute, more measurable and more effective.

 

5. Automated Guaranteed

Up to this point, much of advertising technology’s focus has been around indirect, or non-guaranteed sales – but there is now also the promise that guaranteed sales – where the seller is guaranteeing a certain number of impressions to the buyer over a given period of time – may also be transacted programmatically. For the uninitiated, guaranteed sales currently represent the vast majority of the digital advertising market.

This supposed $9 billion opportunity in the US alone represents very much the next stage in automated advertising’s development – buyers want guaranteed delivery, while sellers want stable revenues. In many ways, automation even promises to supercharge the traditionally sold ‘guaranteed’ buy, bringing data to the equation for the first time, as it has with private marketplaces.

 

In summary, the above represents five quite different examples of how buyers and sellers are using automated advertising, and benefitting as a result. While it’s hard to summarise in one soundbite, I hope at least I’ve shown how a space sometimes presented as over-complex needn’t be so.

So even if you still don’t know your SSP from your DSP or your DMP for that matter, the important thing is as follows: You can see five ways automation is changing, as well as benefitting the media industry as we know it.

 

Adele Hanzlicek is Australian country manager, Rubicon Project.