The Age Of Automation

Automation is the name of the game. Just last year, eMarketer estimated that nearly one-fifth of display spending was automated. Additionally, one recent study by academics at Oxford University suggests that 47% of today’s jobs could be automated in the next two decades, and all signs indicate that even more industries and processes will move towards automated platforms.

For the marketing industry, automated technology has been illuminated through the recent rise of programmatic buying and RTB technology. As a result, everyone in the ecosystem -- from marketers to ad agencies, publishers and ad tech companies -- has experienced massive shifts in their products, whom they hire,  and how they buy media, value an impression, and reach an audience. While RTB technologies and programmatic buying continue to fuel the momentum behind marketing automation, common themes are being called into question.  



Has automation created fewer jobs in the ad marketplace?

Automation has undoubtedly changed the roles within marketing and advertising. We’re at an inflection point -- much like we were during in the machine age -- where automation and machines are redefining the way we work. In digital, the human role has changed. It’s not that we’re hiring fewer people and replacing them with computers, but we’re hiring different types of people, most of whom have an appetite for data and analytics. In some cases, companies are building entirely new roles. For example, publishers such as Meredith and The New York Times have on the one hand been forced to let go of many of their “traditional employees” while on the other hand have hired a new wave of employees and executives to lead their programmatic strategies. And nearly all the large agencies have established their own trading desks, staffed with hundreds of people. In fact, the growth of automated buying has potentially created more roles within the ecosystem.


Have we made the leap to fully automated marketing?

Today, we rely on systems that power efficiency and qualified marketing decisions. However, we have only scratched the surface. Yes, buying in real time and programmatically has drastically improved the way marketers reach audiences, both in terms of relevance and time. But the age of automation should take us much further than better targeting and effective media buying. In theory, it should allow us to make the leap to modeling entire brand strategies based on systematic information collected across everything from targeted display campaigns to CRM databases, cross channel devices, in-store activity, online, and so forth. The key benefit for any brand is the ability to create efficiencies and allow systems to inform your brand strategy.

Can storytelling exist with automated technology?

Programmatic has come a long way in terms of timing and audience, but in the next phase of RTB we will see a larger focus on storytelling at scale. While there will always be big brand dollars spent on large ad placements and sponsorships, data can actually assist advertisers with storytelling through sequencing (i.e. powered by dynamic creative optimization), cross-device targeting, and through the ability to set frequency caps and combine data with innovative ad formats. Although automated buying can never replace the power of the creative mind, data is being used as an ingredient for storytelling that helps brands create deeper connections with their audiences in a more efficient manner. Without an automated data approach, you wouldn’t be able to marry the right creative with the right person.

While automation is certainly here to stay, marketers that take advantage of the value of the human touch in concert with automation will have the biggest advantage as the age of automation evolves. And you humans – with your gut instinct, experience and personal interpretations of the plethora of data that exists – will be the only way that automated technology can be an advantage to marketers.

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