Could Programmatic Take Ad Men Out Of Agencies Into The Cloud?

Programmatic is hugely exciting, and by definition, disruptive. This year it's due to account for nearly half of all the display bought in the UK, according to the IAB. 

The big question for everyone in adland is what does this mean? If computers are doing the trades, where are the people? Will the agency trading desk survive with a change in role? Will central desks get turned into a series of smaller, private desks serving one client at a time?

It's a fascinating question because the feedback from London is that it's now big clients who are pushing the programmatic agenda. P&G has started to champion the channel, telling Advertising Age (which identifies the company as America's biggest ad spender) that 70 percent of its display this year will be bought programmatically. The pledge gives the technology a fan in the FMCG world that far outweighs the large tech firms and early adopters who have so far been the most visible supporters. 

So there are three scenarios, as I see it.

Trading desks in agencies make the switch to programmatic, as they are already are, and not a huge amount changes --  other than skill sets and daily routine. 

Or, trading desks are split up in agencies in to small private units where a dedicated team -- which will probably be very small -- works for a specific client and that client only. This would address the issue brands have with data-driven marketing. If your data insight is shared with competitors you're likely to switch to an agency where that can't happen.

The third scenario could see tech providers going straight to brands and cut out the agency. They would effectively be offering a tech-based service, either run by them or by dedicated personnel within a client, who put money in one end and take out impressions and sales data at the other.

For now, I can't see there being a huge shakeup, and trading desks will either adapt to programmatic -- or if there is a client issue, put up a wall between teams and keep data streams completely separate.

However, the main thing that is going to stop brands going direct to tech providers and cutting out the agency is know-how. People who have the skills and know the technology well enough to set up and run programmatic campaigns are going to be worth their weight in gold. 

So here's a scenario -- a fourth one to add to the other three. And I really think it's one to watch out for.

As programmatic skills become highly valued, would it not make sense for tech vendors to hire top ad men and women with agency experience to turn their software sales business in to a cloud-based service in which technology and know-how are combined? There'd be no need for an agency, potentially. Just a client log-in and dashboard.

It couldn't be Programmatic as a Service because Platform as a Service already has the PaaS title sewn up. How about Display as a Service -- DaaS?

1 comment about "Could Programmatic Take Ad Men Out Of Agencies Into The Cloud?".
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  1. Ross Alderson from POWERSHIFT MEDIA, June 26, 2014 at 8:58 a.m.

    Sean, you are right on the money I believe. We have been developing a DaaS platform with intelligent buying for a while now. Will invite you to the Beta shortly.

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