Will it be possible to bid for all media in future?

Will it be possible to bid for all media in future?

As media agencies launch their own trading desks and ramp up their online biddable media expertise, what does this mean for media buying as we know it?

BEN WOOD MANAGING DIRECTOR, IPROSPECT

- Is auction-based trading the future of all inventory buying for all media as TV, outdoor and even cinema become digitised?

In the long term, this shift is inevitable, just as trading in the City moved from the action of the stock exchange floor to more automated platforms a decade ago. As more media becomes more digital, these trading platforms and new trading models will extend to other channels. More automation, more transparency, market-based pricing, more real-time decision-making and more data intelligence powering buying will be good for everyone - clients, publishers and agencies alike.

- What sorts of opportunities would open up if more media was biddable?

For the media agency: new skills to master, greater targeting efficiencies, more data intelligence powering real-time buying decisions and a net output of better performance for clients. For the creative agency: a more targeted brief and the ability to speak to individuals more personally in more channels - so, arguably, better creative output. For the consumer: more relevant, more compelling messages and a better consumer experience. And for the advertiser: less wastage and the delivery of true media value. But also higher brand impact, deeper customer relationships over time and an increased ROI.

- How would this change the shape of media agencies? For example, will we soon see centralised biddable media teams?

The notion of centralised buying teams is nothing new. The question of whether one centralised "bid management" team could work on multiple channels at some point in the future depends on how channel-specific the skills needed are. We have different teams working across our display trading desk, within paid social and managing PPC campaigns, and the techniques involved in planning and implementing campaigns with those channels necessitate this. Will this change? Perhaps in the longer term, but not for a while because the techniques, technology and skillsets involved for each channel are quite different.

- If more media was traded this way, would this make the role of the media buyer redundant or would the role simply evolve?

The role of "media buyer" will not become redundant. Where media is traded by auction across a technology platform, there is room for computer-based automation in bidding, but we have found that this frees up resource to cover other tasks that evolve too - optimisation, new forms of implementational planning, data management, advanced attribution reporting and so on.

- Is there not a danger that biddable media signals the death of what the advertising industry is made from, namely brilliant human relationships?

Not at all - agencies will always need to sustain great relationships with media owners. Automation will simply ensure efficient and targeted buying strategies at one end of the market. At the more creative and integrated end of the media buying market, where sponsorships or content-led strategies are created by agencies and media owners working together with brands, there will be no place for automated trading strategies or platforms.

- And isn't there also a danger that we end up commoditising all inventory?

No, but the balance of trading focus will certainly evolve. A valuable consumer, targeted for a particular campaign, at a particular point in a customer journey, might dictate the paying of a premium for a particular piece of inventory. This is a subtle yet profound shift. Arguably, the process is actually reducing the commoditised nature of media and, in this context, the auditing and benchmarking of an agency on price alone becomes unhelpful.

JOSH KRICHEFSKI CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, MEDIACOM

- Is auction-based trading the future of all inventory buying for all media as TV, outdoor and even cinema become digitised?

Real-time auction-based trading and data querying will definitely broaden beyond online display and this will be driven by data accessibility. However, I do not believe that all traded media will become auction-based, as agencies are increasingly using platforms originally designed for real-time trading to enable fixed-price private exchanges with media owners. What is for sure is that these technology platforms designed to enable more fluid and efficient buying are here to stay and I'm sure this will broaden out into the traditional media landscape.

- What sorts of opportunities would open up if more media was biddable?

Real-time bidding brings operational efficiencies and variable pricing helps ensure advertisers pay a fair price for inventory as the price for media becomes more demand-led. Traditionally, it was relatively straightforward: advertisers paid a premium to target discreet audiences. However, what is relevant to one person may not be for another. Fortunately, with impression-level data, technology and clever people, we are able to deliver relevant inventory to specific audiences and determine its true value to our client.

- How would this change the shape of media agencies? For example, will we soon see centralised biddable media teams?

We constantly have to innovate. So we already have a biddable media team at MediaCom and this will continue to grow as the landscape evolves. They are pioneering the use of dynamic creative too - for clients such as Dell - which adds another layer of personalisation and effectiveness to impressions bought via biddable media. We also have a broad range of specialist expertise in mobile, data analytics, content creation and distribution, social media, search and so on, which further defines the agency make-up.

- If more media was traded this way, would this make the role of the media buyer redundant or would the role simply evolve?

Media planning and buying is still our core business. The best media buyers have always used data to inform their purchase - the only difference is that this data is now much richer and is unlocked through the intelligent application of systems. The media industry has never been more pioneering because of the diverse and creative talent at agencies and media owners and the partnerships we all enjoy.

- Is there not a danger that biddable media signals the death of what the advertising industry is made from, namely brilliant human relationships?

This will never happen. Human relationships drive groundbreaking work. Google and Facebook run predominately self-serve auction-based buying today and yet we have strong relationships with them. The only difference we find is that our working process is more efficient and better at leveraging data. As technology increasingly facilitates buying, we will continue to retain strong media owner relationships and human interaction will be more around ideas and less around logistics.

- And isn't there also a danger that we end up commoditising all inventory?

We are a very long way from the Cromwell Road domination or The X Factor final spots being commoditised. Currently, the majority of premium online inventory is kept from the auction-based exchanges and instead sold privately. As traditional media moves towards a more commoditised buy, it's likely we will have a two-tier system.

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