Media Planning and Buying Software Revolution?

The software applications used by media agencies to facilitate planning and buying media have long been a source of frustration for both users and management. These tools have not kept pace with developments in PC application platforms. Forget web services and even client-server. The most popular media buying application suite is based on 1980’s IBM mainframe technology (3270 emulation). Worse, the database is not relational across media, so reporting for an integrated campaign is often a manual process using desktop applications.

Configuring these systems to share data with other applications is problematic. Typically agency employees re-enter the same data several times due to this lack of integration.

Client accounting and media payables represent the bottom line in a media agency. Historically the mainframe accounting application is the system of record. While broadcast, out of home (ooh) and print media accounting is well understood and processed relatively efficiently in these systems, digital, with it’s complexity, evolving technology and lack of standards is the wild wild west. The spreadsheet is the common denominator.

With integrated campaigns and digital media becoming more prevalent and broadcast becoming less dominant, these issues have become critical to the management of media planning and buying agencies. In today’s economic environment, “throwing bodies” at agency back office processes is no longer an acceptable solution.

Perhaps most importantly, there is increasing momentum to revamp the “traditional” media planning and buying process around the digital model: buying a targeted audience driven by consumer behavioral data and auctioned in real time. While RTB obviously does not directly apply to print and ooh, broadcast could move in this direction once media owners establish a model to monetize it and the technology (the addressable STB) is standardized. If this shift gains traction, the legacy traditional buying systems will face the same issues with broadcast that they are currently facing with digital. Evidence that this is more than hypothetical is seen with IPG’s Cadreon and Visible World announcing their partnership “is bringing its demand-side Internet ad platform approach to cable”. Cadreon has invested in building proprietary applications to manage their trading desk.

Apparently the software vendors agree. Donovan Data Systems (DDS) recently announced the hiring of J.T. Batson to head up it’s digital planning and buying product division. Mr. Batson comes to DDS from The Rubicon Project, a leader in the Ad Exchange and Yield Management technology space. MEDIABANK announced the hiring of Bill Wise. Mr. Wise was previously at Yahoo’s rightmedia, arguably the pioneer of the digital ad exchange technology platform.

Advertising Perspectives will be monitoring this space closely as the agencies and vendors grapple with finally revolutionizing the technology supporting media planning and buying operations. Stay tuned, it should be interesting.

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