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Automated Ad Sales: Past, Present, and Future

September 18th, 2019   ||    by Charlene Weisler

Automated ad sales have been around longer than some might think. The first central ad server was actually introduced in 1995 for online advertising, according to Clearcode.

Over the course of the past few years, media companies have realized the value of automated ad sales beyond digital, and it’s currently expanding into a range of platforms.

Early Days of Advertising

Ad buying started as human to human interaction. Research departments would track performance trends and create estimates for sales. Agency planners would find the best fit for their client’s target consumer. Then, agency buyers and media sellers would meet to negotiate price, delivery expectations, and contract guarantees that would be executed over the broadcast or calendar year.

Transitioning to Automated Advertising

With the rollout of the internet and digital platforms came the ability to more easily capture data at various points in the consumer experience. More data-driven systems entered the marketplace and, as a result, merged the planning and buying processes. Digital, with its real-time capabilities, enabled a seamless planning to execution process, with buys electronically moving from the spreadsheet or database to ad server.

For those with a deep history in media sales like Arlene Manos, president emeritus of advertising sales at AMC Networks, data has been the game-changer.

In an interview with Manos, she noted that “Selling is now more applicable to specialized projects, which go beyond running a straight ad, such as sponsorship of events and integrated marketing.”

Direct response sales departments, in particular, aren’t needed if proper automation is in place. Sales digitization through automated advertising enables sales executives to forgo the elemental aspects of sales and apply their talents more strategically.

The Television Marketplace

Today, digital supply and demand marketplaces streamline processes by instantaneously calculating availability, negotiating price and CPM, delivering the units, and solving the problem of under-delivery closer to real-time. And, because the process removes human fallibility, there is also greater transparency and control for both buyer and seller, delivering greater value to both sides of the transaction.

But for some, the movement to a data-centric automated ad sales market has resulted in a stand-off. “Agencies, media companies, and independent tech companies are all building proprietary platforms,” said Hanna Gryncwajg, VP of enterprise accounts at TVSquared. Agencies believe they should have the process control because “they know their client’s marketing goals and needs” while media companies that have invested heavily in platforms and processes “don’t want to give up the ability to optimize their content, data, and platforms across their asset portfolio.”

The struggle for control is still being played out, but it’s clear that automated ad sales’ ability to streamline processes and provide transparency across the selling-buying ecosystem delivers value for content owners and distributors while also maximizing ad targetability. “Content is no longer king,” Gryncwajg asserted. “It is audiences that are king and finding an audience match that provides ROI to a marketer via automation always wins.”

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