Kimberly Whitler: How is the media planning landscape changing for marketers?

Joanna O’Connell: It’s changing because of two simultaneous forces: first, consumer behaviors and attitudes are changing; and second, the ubiquitous availability of data and the advent of sophisticated technology are changing what’s possible in media planning and, critically, media buying, optimization and measurement. Because of how and where people now consume content and want to engage with, and be engaged by, marketing, brands must look at media management holistically, across not only channels—including paid (like display and video advertising) and owned (like their websites, apps and email programs) —and devices, but also supply sources, data sources and measurement approaches that take into account both online and offline activity.

Whitler: Can you describe what you mean by supply sources? What are they are how are they changing?

O’Connell: The traditional way a media plan would be built is that a media buyer from an ad agency (typically) would call, for example, – the supply source in this example – and negotiate pricing and placement over the phone. They would talk back and forth, over the phone and/or email, until a specific contract was finalized, at which point an insertion order would be emailed out to the media supplier. Then, finally, an ad tag would be generated and emailed out, and so on and so forth. As you can see, bringing a media plan to life was extremely manual.

However, the world has evolved. In the past few years, you’ve seen the rise of programmatic, where technology has enabled media buyers to log into a platform and have direct and instant access to purchasable inventory. In the early days of programmatic, advertising inventory existed in a giant pool inside of ad exchanges, which were basically marketplaces. This was a huge process innovation. But it didn’t yet solve for the need for buyers and sellers to interact on a one to one basis, and contract more specific pools of inventory or audiences. Today, that’s changed: the best of programmatic is still in place – the process efficiency along with real time decisioning and optimization, but you are seeing a return to relationships and direct negotiations. That said the negotiations are occurring over non-traditional things, such as pass-back rights, data rights, etc. For example, as a buyer, I might want to negotiate with (the supplier) for rights to get access to use its user data to inform my media program with and potentially even outside the boundaries of the site. That requires a direct interaction. In the future, I think we’ll see more and more “traditional” type buys, where buyers and sellers negotiate on placement, audience, packaging, guarantees and more – being powered programmatically.

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