Opinions

It’s Time for Media Buyers to Take Back Control and Reap the ROI

Posted by Paul Mokbel on December 18th, 2012 at 11:50 am

As Internet ad-buying technologies advance, there is an increasing number of ways to reach a targeted demographic with your brand’s values. Within the past three years, real-time bidding (RTB) and programmatic ad buying have cemented themselves in both the industry and the agency ad-buying process. Advancements in media-buying technology, such as demand-side platforms (DSPs), have made it possible to rapidly scale online campaigns, but also foster a passive, push-button approach to media buying. It can be a challenge to determine whether data-driven, automated ad-buying solutions really help agencies’ bottom lines and deliver what they’re paying for. Agencies and their media buyers are asking themselves: Can we have it all? Can we have the scale and efficiency of programmatic buying and the control over buys we’ve always cherished?

Through traditional full-service DSPs, media buyers may feel they’re losing control of their campaigns from the lack of transparency about which impressions are being purchased, where the ads are being placed and whether the metrics are truly delivering useful and actionable insights. Sometimes, these challenges hurt their profit margins, regardless of how well their campaigns are performing. The merits of fully-managed DSPs are clear, but obviously they’re not enough. Fortunately, with the launch of self-service DSPs that offer both RTB and direct-buying opportunities with publishers, media buyers can once again take control of their brand’s ad campaigns. Matched with the capabilities of full-service DSPs, self-service DSPs can help media buyers take a more holistic approach to campaigns and results, and reclaim their campaign strategies and their profit margins.

Are they Media Buyers or Just Money Allocators?

In theory, media buying is simple: Get a brand in front of its most-valued targets to convert exposure into profits. But the online advertising space and its inner workings are more complicated than that. After some initial apprehension on the part of agencies, the open access granted by the ad exchanges allowed new growth for agencies with the introduction of trading desks and the dawn of a new era for media buyers. Nevertheless, agencies often feel a technological disconnect here, and that’s where traditional DSPs came in to serve trading desks. In spite of their convenience, media buyers ceded some control over their buys through large full-service DSPs. The value of the media buyer in strategizing against the competition eroded, along with the buyer’s overall worth to a brand. Brands have become more and more reliant on managed DSP solutions, challenging media buyers to prove they can somehow deliver well-targeted ads, at a faster pace, at a bottom-line-friendly rate. After all, are agencies and media buyers truly buyers, or just money allocators?

Agencies have been buying media and placing ads for years, and it should be no different with digital media. Both agencies and media buyers have the trifecta needed to be successful: access to the best-in-class ad-buying technology, years of ad-buying expertise, and boatloads of campaign history data. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that it's the agencies that have direct access to the brands. There ought to be a way to leverage these unique skills and resources — not to outrun the traditional full-service DSPs, but to augment their scale and automation with a more customizable approach.

Fortunately, there is.

Making Media Buyers Media Buyers Again

Programmatic ad-buying is beginning to open up, allowing media buyers to better understand and adopt technologies like self-service DSP solutions. Like paid search, self-service online ad-buying platforms continue to flourish as the technology becomes more accessible, inexpensive and easy-to-use. Through many currently available services, media buyers can access real-time, in-depth reporting and intelligence that empowers them to be smarter about ad-buying. This technology keeps their ad dollars in places that benefit their business most.

The relationship between platforms and agencies, in accessing the most valuable audiences and best-performing ad inventory, doesn’t need to be that of an arms race. It’s time for media buyers to utilize their knowledge and expertise by conducting programmatic and direct-buys via self-service ad-buying platforms, which can work in tandem with full-service DSPs to provide the best of both worlds. In doing this, media buyers distinguish their value from the completely automated, traditional DSPs, and better control the profit margins for their campaigns.

With advancements in programmatic buying, media buyers are no longer at the mercy of their black box ad-buying technologies. Self-service DSP solutions help level the playing field. It’s time for media buyers to reclaim their ad-buying dollars and utilize the best tools to help them control their own impressions and, most importantly, maximize their ROI. Instead of getting shut out of ad-buying, media buyers can regain valued flexibility through a self-service platform and, along with a managed DSP, they can truly have it all.

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