The same companies then always have a line on how many, typically, administrative roles their tech replaces as represented by the lower head count a year after its introduction. The line is always that people have moved on and have not been replaced because they don't need to be. So that more rewarding role would quite often appear to be one of finding your next job, it would appear? Either that or people do voluntarily leave once technology comes along that makes their job more rewarding?
So I have to say I had a pinch of salt at the ready when AOL released research this morning to say that programmatic technology makes ad executives' lives easier and allows them to focus on the more rewarding aspects of their roles. Interestingly, however, the research actually asked executives what they think of the technology -- and the key findings appear to be that just over half (57%) don't think it replaces humans, and that more than a third think the biggest issue it raises is a skills gap that needs to be plugged.
Two in three say this now gives them more time to talk strategy and a third say it gives them more time to communicate with clients. A further third say it gives them more time to spend on more value-added services, such as developing native advertising campaigns.
I'm always left wondering with researchers phrasing results to suggest the interviewees agree what we're to make of a third agreeing that something is happening because presumably that also means that two-thirds do not? If a third are able to spend more time with clients and focus on value-added services, what are the other two-thirds doing?
Also, the key finding here is that just over half don't believe the technology is replacing them. That means pretty much only half agree with AOL's position and the other half do not.
Of course, the ability to track audiences and sell to them programmatically, instead of buying media you expect them to visit, is a huge step forward. Automation will take an awful lot of admin work out of campaign planning, management and reporting.
Yet still only half believe it makes the process less human.
What this research shows above all, I think, is that people just don't know where the technology is going to take the industry and what impact it will have on their roles.
It brings into sharp focus the skills gap identified, presumably in understanding the technology and in the analytic skills required in fine-tuning and reporting on campaigns.
So while developing those skills is a key career-developing piece of advice that all should take on board, the takeaway of the latest research is clear. Or rather it is unclear.
Nobody can quite yet appreciate the longer-term impact of programmatic and automation because we have yet to see what happens to headcount. If people leave, will they be replaced?
The technology has caught on so quickly that nobody has had time to catch their breath and see what the impact is now, let alone in the longer term.
It will make the OMMA RTB and programmatic event run by MediaPost and hosted by myself on October 14th truly fascinating. AOL representatives are taking part with other industry leaders to discuss the implications of the new technology.