Pendulum Swing: The Shift to Programmatic Buying

I recently had the pleasure of attending the AOL Leadership Summit where the hot topic of conversation was Real Time Bidding (RTB) and programmatic buying in the digital space. AOL put together a crack team of experts to discuss some of the trends and challenges currently facing our industry as a result of these dramatic changes in the landscape.

The keynote speaker, David Bell from Pegasus Capital Advisors, summed it up best when he compared our industry as a swinging pendulum. We’re an industry that tends to move from one extreme to the other, and programmatic buying represents a huge shift towards efficiency and accountability. This affects the entire spectrum of what we do from planning (the ability to reach exactly the right audience), to buying (paying, on an auction-based model, the price that inventory is worth to our customers) to optimization and reporting (real time results allow us to focus on delivering against KPIs that matter_.

These advantages may make programmatic buying seem like a no-brainer but, there are still some key challenges that face the industry. Right now the space is so cluttered it sometimes seems impossible to gauge who all the players are and what service they provide. The consensus of the group was that consolidation is necessary to help make the space more accessible.

We are now moving towards an environment where programmatic buying is reaching out across platforms – mobile and video inventory are being made increasingly available on the exchanges, and Media Experts’ Managing Director, Digital Solutions Scott Atkinson, who participated on one of the day’s panels, pointed out that even traditional media like radio and TV could eventually migrate to this kind of a model.

And while the accountability and efficiency that it brings to the table are great for us and our customers, it’s also our responsibility to recognize that this solution isn’t always “one size fits all”. Just like any medium, we need to ensure that it addresses our customers’ needs and delivers actionable and meaningful results.

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