Automating Ad Buys Could Erode Ad Agency Jobs

I keep hearing that technology can dramatically increase the ROI of sales and marketing. However, I've yet to meet a marketer that says, "Give me an off-the-shelf sponsorship or media buy, you know, an ordinary media program that's vanilla and any brand can use it." Have you? Anybody that's read a website, magazine or newspaper can see that at the basic level content generally matches or complements the advertising message, service or product on the same page. Specifically I am talking about digital media today.

There is more discussion and implementation of automated digital ad banner buying than ever before -- caution, if you automate the media buying, won't some agency associates lose their jobs? It takes communication, alignment, teamwork, pricing, creative, negotiation, organization and so much more to create a custom sponsorship. Marketers want custom programs that showcase their brands; automated buys can't fulfill that request. Experienced marketers know that integrating multiple messages on a web site increases conversion. And some target audiences would prefer engagement, especially Baby Boomers. (Boomers control 77% of the U.S. wealth; just about every brand should be engaging them.)



Don't get me wrong, automated ad buys can have a place for some brands, providing productivity boost with doing more with less or implemented for a short-term campaign. If I worked at an ad agency today (I did for seven years), I would stick with strategy, research, custom media buys and sponsorships. Last I checked these couldn't be automated.

Marketers can expect a custom online program or sponsorship to have some or all of these elements:

  • One or two standard IAB banner ads
  • Content in the form of an article
  • Video Player content and or Pre-roll
  • eNewsletter inclusion -- logo and or content
  • Dedicated email to subscribers with special offer
  • Dedicated landing page
  • Tie in to a web site event

A custom sponsorship is not a "one step load up the demos into the computer and spit out impression" formula. No, it takes a person to create the presenting sponsor package, Gold Package, Silver Package and so on. Not a computer. A great example for a Boomer-focused sponsorship is for the Baby Boomer musical, "BoomerMania the Musical." The musical is a trip down nostalgia lane taking place in the '50s, '60s and '70s.

Marketers who are reviewing a movie, musical, play, concert or sponsorship with their online media should consider the following elements:

  • Marquis signage
  • Product placement
  • Product giveaway
  • Lobby exposure
  • Contest
  • Ticket giveaways
  • Custom video with cast members
  • Custom TV commercial with cast members
  • Rose Bowl Parade Float with dancing and singing cast members

"BoomerMania" has cultural icons of the Baby Boomer era such as television's "Ed Sullivan Show" and "Bonanza," music, politics, the love affair with autos, famous Madison Avenue jingles, disco dancing, TV dinners and cereal. Not only does the show engage Baby Boomers emotionally, integrating an online and offline sponsorship makes sense for several brand categories. This custom integration can't be automated.

Generally it takes five to seven impressions for brand engagement. Not only should the online and offline elements be aligned to the target audience, the creative should be consistent. Note, the new rising-star ad sizes from IAB this fall will create more options for impactful online creative, lending itself to higher conversions. Combining digital online and offline sponsor elements are powerful for increasing engagement and ultimately revenue.

3 comments about "Automating Ad Buys Could Erode Ad Agency Jobs ".
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  1. Sheldon Senzon from JMS Media, Inc., August 15, 2011 at 11:09 a.m.

    Great post, you make a ton of sense for sure. All this buy side/demand side stuff is great for tonnage as you've mentioned but in the end it comes back to relationships with buyers and sellers. What's old is new, thanks for pointing out the importance of integreated campaigns that are not just about "a dollar a holler".

  2. Howie Goldfarb from Blue Star Strategic Marketing, August 15, 2011 at 1 p.m.

    I agree and disagree. Depends on what is being bought. Should a company need to pay a media buyer to say reach 50mil people via TV? Couldn't they upload a commercial, check a few demographic boxes and the TV spots run on the shows that hit the spots? Isn't that what a media buyer does but then charges for being the middle person?

    So for customization it takes people who can create the right facets of the media plan. But there is tons of commodity purchasing that doesn't need a middle person if the technology exists.

  3. Chuck Nyren from Advertising to Baby Boomers, August 15, 2011 at 4:13 p.m.

    Automated vs. real people. Sure, but it depends who the real people are:

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