Scaled programmatic media buying has arrived and is here to stay. That much is certain. And that is tremendously good news for the buy-side community, who gain nearly unlimited access to high quality inventory, available to cherry-pick at the right prices. That’s not a knock on the buy side, mind you. I'm only suggesting that with the tools available to the buy-side community today, they can literally choose which impressions they want and which ones they don't -- exactly as they should.
On the sell-side, that means publishers are making more of their inventory available through automated transactional channels, leveraging their own data and insight, and ultimately (hopefully?) increasing their yield on that inventory over other current sell-side options.
The advances in programmatic tools on both the buy and sell side have dramatically changed the way huge amounts of media are bought, sold, and of course, delivered. It’s time for those delivery systems to move past their evolutionary stage and into a full-blown revolution. The ad server has simply outlived its usefulness in the stack. It is time to take it out behind the woodshed and hit it over the head with a shovel.
What features and capabilities will these next-gen platforms have that differentiate them from today's buy- and sell-side platforms? They will be truly holistic, end-to-end analytical, transactional and executional platforms. Marketers have suffered long enough with a cobbled-together string of single-point solutions, with each partner taking their own percentage of every transaction or a licensing fee. These Rube Goldberg machines of ad delivery cause headaches and increase costs, and, like an ad-tech game of Jenga, make it increasingly difficult to switch from one solution to another.
The industry has long said that many of the companies in our esteemed LUMAscape are features, not products. Yet year after year, new features are added to the slide, adding new layers of complexity to the ad delivery system. Recently, a few companies have begun to roll out platforms that unify the workflow of media planning and buying, ad delivery, and data management for buyers or sellers, but have yet to gain traction. We can certainly attribute some of this to the cost and effort of ripping out your stack. However, forward-thinking marketers and publishers will recognize the need to do this sooner rather than later. Legacy systems and companies will need to offer next-gen platforms, and support services to ease the transition, in order to keep their current market-dominating status.
The advent of the DealID has enabled publishers to offer their premium inventory to Tier 1 advertisers programmatically, in addition to their remnant inventory, opening the door for platforms to unify direct, network and exchange-bid campaigns through one dashboard. Hopefully we'll see more advances like this across the ecosystem, simplifying the process of buying and selling inventory across multiple sales channels, and bringing a truly holistic buying and selling workflow to marketers, publishers and media companies.
LUMA Partners' Terry Kawaja has long said that real industry consolidation will occur when big companies like IBM, Oracle, and SAP decide to stick their claws in the online advertising food chain. As next-gen platforms offer a broader, streamlined and unified workflow that manages larger budgets and complete results-driven transactions based on managed data, that may very well catch the eyes of the Big Blue or Larry Ellison.