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Automated Ad Buying and the Future of the Media Buyer’s Job

October 3rd, 2019   ||    by Susan Kuchinskas

Automated ad buying will reinvent the media buyer’s job—but buyer, beware. Adaptation is necessary in this age of automation. However, there’s plenty of upsides, and media buyers don’t need to worry that automation will take their jobs. Automation, however, will transform the job.

The buying and selling of television inventory lags behind just about every other marketplace. Email may have replaced faxes, but most of a buyer’s labor goes to managing transactions.

Especially for local buys, a media buyer might need to make multiple calls to multiple reps in different markets. Setting up a campaign could take days, if not weeks.

Unfortunately, in today’s fast-track, jam-packed media landscape, it’s becoming almost impossible for buyers to keep up.

In an article for Broadcasting & Cable, Kathy Doyle, EVP of local investment at Magna Global, noted that in order to provide the desired reach for advertisers, agencies must purchase twice as many spots as they used to. That adds up to as many as 10 million ads across hundreds of stations.

Moreover, she said, each new dataset that becomes available, while increasing targeting effectiveness, also adds another level of complexity. The human brain and the 24 hours in a day are not enough to cope with this scale; automated processes are a must.

Automation Arrives

While automated ad buying is still in its nascent stages, it’s already changing the landscape of TV ad buys. Mediatool reported that Phil Gaughran, US chief integration officer at McGarryBowen, predicted that, by 2022, 80 percent of advertising processes will be automated.

That remaining 20 percent is actually great news for advertisers, agencies, and media buyers. According to Gaughran, by freeing them from trafficking worries, they’ll be able to focus more on the value-added—and human-centric—aspects of advertising, such as brand value, storytelling, and other experiential tactics.

A More Creative Buyer

Automated ad buying makes the buying process more efficient, reducing the amount of time it takes to buy placements.

A case in point is Videa, which recently launched two new features to relieve two of the biggest pain points for buyers, sellers, and researchers. As MarTech Series reported, its forecasted ratings tool provides accurate forecasts, reducing the number of under-delivered spots and the need for makegoods. It also allows buyers to avail the full market, even if the sell side doesn’t use the Videa platform, greatly speeding the buying process.

With the time saved, agencies and media buyers can devote more resources to everything from ad creation to testing, Outbrain noted. Media buying will move from analytics to creativity.

Preparing for the Future of Automated Ad Buying

Artificial intelligence increases the power of automation, said Media Village. In the estimation, planning, and optimization processes, AI can create efficiencies, increasing ROI as it reduces manual labor.

In order to succeed in this new era of automated ad buying, media owners and agencies should harness the power of AI and automation for more intelligent campaigns, and then let media buyers focus on strategic planning, Media Village added.

Smart media buyers will see automation as an opportunity to enhance their own skills, especially in using data to increase the effectiveness of campaigns for clients who are also more sophisticated users of data and technology than ever before.

Videa president Shereta Williams gave media buyers some advice, via Adweek. Once they’ve automated the more mundane tasks, in addition to understanding the technology, they should remember that personal relationships are as important as ever.

She advised buyers to build trust and transparency with their partners. She noted that, with automated ad buying, media budgets and pricing are available to both parties, while mismatches between plans and media delivery are revealed.

Buyers must accept this, she said, while speaking frankly about the challenges and ideas for improvement. As the media buying landscape shifts, buyers should work to guide this transformation.

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