Can Programmatic Solutions Help Solve Agencies' Bandwidth Problem?

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, November 20, 2015
For years the balance of workload versus scope of work has plagued digital agency teams. The strain is compounded as agencies invest in new skills to support client business in a marketplace where publishers’ inventory and technology are restructuring for self-service.

Programmatic services can help alleviate the day-to-day requirements for digital media planners, as well as support a different model for full-time employees and efficient workflows.

Programmatic Helps Lighten The Workload

For the first time ever, programmatic spending in display will outpace traditional direct sales this year. According to eMarketer’s U.S. Programmatic Ad Spending forecast published in October, programmatic will be 59% of total display ad spending, or $15.43 billion, in 2015.

Today’s digital media planners must have a handle on the programmatic marketplace to successfully design their clients’ campaigns. The advantage of buying through demand-side platforms and an open marketplace go beyond efficiency and accumulated performance metrics. Ideally, the growth of automated guaranteed and private marketplace deals can reduce not only the number of phone calls to sales representatives, but can lighten the workload of securing and optimizing inventory.



Media agencies now either have a dedicated trading desk or are hiring and transforming existing account teams with programmatic experts. These resources are going to increase in importance as more publishers and channels are participating in the open marketplace. Rather than a mass RFP and a two-to-four week turnaround to negotiate and plan a campaign, platforms offer ready-to-order access to publisher inventory.  Sales teams can approve or revise a submitted request and close a deal without leaving their desks.  

Teams Become Empowered

Imagine a direct-response-focused planning team. Typically, acquisition-focused clients require weekly reporting calls and demand insights to improve performance week-over-week. Rather than seeking input from multiple partners, a team running the campaign self-serve has all the tools and access to evaluate the weekly ebbs and flows on their own.  

This not only empowers media buyers, but also facilitates additional trust from advertisers and allows them to quickly increase investments based on the insights.

Previously, planners had to check their reporting with each vendor on the plan. If they wanted to add spend, they had to ask and wait for answers for each line item. Editing an insertion order could take hours of tedious revisions and counter-signing.  

A Streamlined Process Fuels Huge Productivity Gains

Agencies that onboard platforms for buying to all their planning teams can expect employees to save a huge amount of time. Rather than waiting for an RFP to be submitted, a planner can quickly repeat a successful partnership and know the inventory is there as soon as the request is approved. The same time savings occur in the open market, where users can revise their planned spend with the click of a button — whether it be an increase or cut due to optimization.  

A Renewed Focus on Value

In conjunction with the technology and talent fees associated with an agency-driven programmatic buy, automated buying systems have the potential to help improve the slim margins related to staffing a client’s team. If junior team members have less insertion orders to maintain and more time for evaluating results, it’s a win-win for the clients and the company. It’s possible for digital teams’ head count to be funded from a combination of the scope of work structure and the inflow of programmatic budgets.  And the biggest benefit will be talent having a direct connection to every dollar spent and constantly improving their value to the client.

While technology and data are driving more media value, people and smart strategic thinking will not be replaced by machines. Agencies must reassess existing talent and skills while building a programmatic arm in order to best solve their clients’ business challenges.

This post was previously published in an earlier edition of Real-Time Daily.

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