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Newsline: Why aren’t media trading electronically?

November 14, 2013

Patricia Kill of Trish Kill Consulting, gives her perspective on the recent MediaTel Electronic Trading Debate.

The answer to 'why aren't we trading electronically?' could be paraphrased as: "Some sort of are already; it's painful and takes a long time to find savings".

Some things have crawled forward; TV for example, having been conditioned by DDS to accept small incremental changes, has finally seen its semi-integrated workflows tidied up by DDS's new owners Media Ocean.

This is still only a fraction of what the TV ad delivery strategists actually want but a step in the right direction. Fingers are now crossed that Media Ocean's new roadmap will support a transformation to the way agencies buy and deliver TV and video campaigns.

I would think Media Ocean are likely to prioritise digital, followed by TV, then maybe look at making money from improving the process of trading newspaper advertising, organically or through a judicious buyout.

Meanwhile, digital media are experimenting with a proliferation of Real-Time Bidding (RTB) platforms and learning lots about the growth in back office paper shuffling, spreadsheet skills and the impact on advertising yield.

All of this achingly slow progress does make me wonder if it's time to ask some new and revisit some old and still unanswered questions?

So, given the mathematicians are rumoured to be in charge of the advertising industry, here's what Einstein had to say on the importance of asking the right question: "The formulation of the problem is often more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill".

Am I alone in thinking the questions that need asking are really quite simple? Questions like...

What would happen if agencies and media owners collaborate on reducing the cost of transactions?

Why do media buyers still have weekly line-by-line trading discussions with publishers?

How can agencies benefit from buying press in advance instead of on a short-term basis?

How can media owners increase the time available to sell?

What activities could agencies stop doing today in order to create space and time for clients' needs?

What do industry bodies like the IPA, NPA or indeed Newsworks do in support of the quest for transformation in the way traditional advertising is traded?

Adazzle, CARIA and J-ET have a part to play. These are, of course data delivery platforms rather than fully electronic trading options. Regardless, all are very well placed to help the industry answer its new and old questions and indeed show their own ability to lead and innovate.

Adazzle already hold a great deal of knowledge about print and digital processes and already handle over 50% of national press display ads. It's from this sector we are seeing the greatest demand for transformational solutions, so Adazzle are now in a position to do more.

These companies all see what happens each time a sale or transaction is carried out. They understand the unwritten dynamics of how advertising people really get things done and know better than most why electronic trading remains a contentious enigma for some and a solution looking for a problem for others.

Regional press too may be able to inform the debate soon; it is beginning to experiment with a type of trading platform, courtesy of Media Equals. I congratulate the Media Equals' team for sticking with it.

Their previous experiments with an auction model for outdoor and special wraparounds faced some degree of agency push back. Cat Brogan from Media Lateral made clear to me: "Ad agencies can make or break auction platforms."

Media Equal's ventures offer insights into the art of the possible and in the case of outdoor, handled many millions in advertising sales.

So there's another question - what?' in it for ad agencies?

Ad agencies want to grow margin and focus on creating original and useful campaigns for clients, while media owners and particularly publishers need to reduce operating costs, increase ad yield and diversify.

In the middle of these corporate wants and needs are the people who currently bridge the gap between what the disconnected systems are computing and what advertisers actually want to buy. This leads to my last and for me the single most important question.

How can the very human, dynamic, often cynical, banter and candour of media trading be made more sustainably profitable for agencies and media owners?

Now, that's a question I would happily spend time pondering

Via MediaTel