Commentary

Introducing The Biddable Media Engineer

I’ve always thought the search guys missed the boat. Demand side platforms (DSPs) should have come out of the search agencies. Instead DSPs grew out of VC-backed start-ups. Mediamath and Invite Media are two examples of early players. The search agencies understood how auction-based media worked ever since Overture set up one of the early platforms. They understood how to bid on keywords in realtime through API-driven tools. In fact, they made buckets of money buying search terms. Maybe that’s why they didn’t realize that biddable display, mobile, video and social would be such a big business.
 
While search agencies and bid management solutions were maturing, DSPs were hitting the scene, and have since become a huge billion-dollar business. Current DSPs allow buyers of display media (mostly display media but increasingly available for social, video and mobile) to access inventory on the online media exchanges like Right Media, AdX and Pubmatic, among others). Increasingly, this media is available in real-time and buyers can bid on individual impressions.
 
While the media may be different -- keywords vs. banners -- the approach of placing bids on inventory is very similar.
 
I never understood why the search platforms didn’t jump on the DSP bandwagon, and why the search agencies didn’t build agency-side trading desks. But that’s not what happened. Varick Media Management was born out of The Media Kitchen, a full-service communications planning and buying agency.
 
Over the years, search technology has greatly evolved. Now the same bidding platforms that we use to buy keywords are starting to access social inventory and display inventory on the exchanges. Now search buyers can buy the same kinds of inventory the same way that trading desks buy media.
 
Other advancements have also occurred on the inventory side. Google bought a DSP (Invite Media) and DoubleClick. They’ve brought the auction model to the display marketplace.
 
All these advancements have started to affect the agency teams. The search teams can buy a lot of the same inventory as the trading desks using the same real-time bidding technology. The search teams and the trading desks are competing for performance media. They’re starting to duplicate services and bid against each other.
 
We imagine that the trading desks and the search teams will merge, but not quite yet.  The technology is just not there. Separate workflows and skills are also required to use DSPs and buy search.
 
While the technology continues to improve and more inventory sources are lit up for RTB, we can begin improving performance by sharing data. Search data can help us identify different data segments to buy on the exchanges and vice versa.
 
As a result, we see the need to create a bridge -- and that person is called a Biddable Media Engineer.
 
We’ve started deploying them at The Media Kitchen. We’ve created a position that is entirely designed to leverage all biddable media. At TMK, our group directors are responsible for devising the overall communications plan. They work with all stakeholders at the creative agency and the client to devise the communications strategy. And they work with all the subject matter experts to allocate the budget. They’ll pull in TV buyers, OOH buyers, etc.

Now they’ll work with Biddable Media Engineers (BME) to design the best biddable media strategy. The BME will help devise the best mix of all biddable media channels and devise a plan that uses data to optimize all the biddable channels.
 
For now, we just have two chiefs in this role. But we envision a time, in the not to distant future, when these folks take on the full responsibility of budget allocator. After all, most paid media will become biddable.

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