Is Programmatic Creating -- Or Killing -- Jobs?

The transition to programmatic, despite moves by companies such as Demand Media in eliminating direct sales, is initially creating more jobs.  The fear among the seller marketplace that programmatic would eventually eliminate the need for digital salespeople has not come to fruition (yet!).  In fact, the industry has had to get smarter and more structured to handle this growing momentum — and so new jobs are being created throughout the ecosystem.  

The work involved at the outset for the buy and sell side includes inventory organization, SSP license and integration, creation of impression and audience subsets, vertical demand management — and that’s just a portion of what’s needed to get the supply side started.  You combine that with every publisher wanting to set up their own specific deal ID with Accuen, Vivaki, Cadreon, Xaxis and Affiperf in addition to the non-agency owned DSPs, and the result is we’re investing a lot of time and energy, and  hiring new manpower, to “become automated.”



The truth is, most of the work in this category is front-end setup. Yet while ongoing management will lead to better yield over time, once the framework is laid down, the hard work is arguably done.  So, while the process is initially creating an abundance of new jobs, there is no doubt that if programmatic is to succeed with the kind of scale we all believe it should, job elimination  — or ideally, job differentiation — is inevitable.  

Traditional block and tackle (“RFP-based”) digital media sellers will become less useful for most businesses, and we’ll move in the direction of more investment in trading directors, content and creative solution managers, agency leads and branded entertainment executives — some of which are the media sellers above, especially the really good ones.  However, those on the seller side — and quite possibly the buy side — who are unable to pivot into the categories above will likely fall victim to the same attrition we  saw only a few years ago in print.

The trends above should actually get people in the industry excited, as the time is now to take advantage of being creative and strategic again.  The days of ad networks ruling the roost are coming to an end, and the publishers and platforms that have truly unique content and content offerings will start to — once again — rise to the top.  

For those of you who believed this industry was becoming a race-to-the-bottom business, look no further than programmatic to change all of that.  If all goes as planned, programmatic will eliminate the middle man (unless it’s great middle-man tech) and give rebirth to the portions of the industry that make advertising truly innovative and remarkable.

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