Tech Is The Future, But Where Does That Leave Media Planners?

Tech Is The Future, But Where Does That Leave Media Planners?
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Are media planners going to become a thing of the past? Will technology become so intuitive and impressive that algorithms and digital platforms will be able to determine the best media mix in the blink of an eye? In this opinion piece, advertising amplification platform Path 51 founder Simon Larcey answers the questions.

It’s a sobering thought, particularly across an agency landscape that has for so long been dominated by the thought that the strength of an agency can always be boiled down completely to its people. This is definitely not the case anymore. One of the biggest selling points these days is the bespoke tools and proprietary technologies that agencies can offer their clients.

New technologies can and are making advertising experiences more palatable across publisher platforms. I’m talking about technology solutions that create engaging formats, measurable insights and positive experiences.

So what does this mean for the people in this industry? Obviously agencies will always need smart planners and buyers. But when technological solutions can offer the best solutions, it certainly makes you wonder how agencies will be staffed in the future. What will a media agency job description look like in 20 years – less planning, more tech and data skills, I’d hazard a guess.

This is already happening. Take my own proprietary tool Path 51, which syncs TV and digital and provides an automated system that analyses how TV affects online and then uses a clever little algorithm to recommend what you need to do to get better results.

Just imagine when programmatic is in full swing across multiple platforms in TV, radio, OOH, giving brands the ability to completely automate the whole process. Will media planners and buyers be gradually replaced by technology that tells you how to get the best results, then buys the space and delivers? Will we have a new media industry that relies on tech gurus, data analysts and media owners who can deal directly with the advertiser and not a middleman – because all of a sudden, it’s the most cost effective way to do it?

Obviously this is some time off, and the reality will more likely be an amalgamation of the old and the new, but seismic change is coming, and new skillsets will replace the old, with technology at the core.

Agencies will increasingly need to reconfigure their place in the world, and it is abundantly clear that many are having trouble dealing with this change. A perfect example is the eight-month probe by the Association of National Advertisers in the US, which found that many agencies are adopting unscrupulous practices and employing hidden revenue streams to make up for shortfalls in the media planning and buying space.

Scam ads might be seen as another example. Creative agencies are developing advertising to win awards not drive business for their clients. It just appears to me there is so much insecurity within the industry that both creative and media agencies are looking for additional ways to generate revenue, because of underlying concerns that the old model just won’t work anymore.

It is no surprise that the smart agencies are now starting to invest substantially in ad tech, because technology is the way of the future and will gradually become more and more disruptive in the media world. There will never be a substitute for a good idea because a good idea is always going to hold value. However, as technology becomes increasingly important, we will see new tech-driven roles emerge, as traditional positions become less important. Does this mean we will see the end of the media planner/buyer? It’s unlikely. But there is a strong possibility that the job description will look increasingly different as time progresses.

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