The arrival of programmatic buying in recent years has brought its fair share of fear and loathing to media buying agencies. There’s a perception that some sort of super computer will replace traditional trading floors while others argue that many agencies lack the technical know-how to meet the modern demands of media buying.
Angela Goodsir, MCN’s chief technology and systems operations officer, argues that neither is quite true but does concede agencies can be laggards on the technical front.
Too often, Goodsir told B&T, agencies see “technology as the enemy” adding that things can no longer be done the way they were a decade ago.
Goodsir also doesn’t buy into the idea that all our jobs are going to be replaced by machines and we poor, humble humans will find ourselves on the digital scrapheap.
“If you’re willing to adapt technology it doesn’t put people out of jobs it gives them different jobs,” Goodsir said. “Why fear technology? It saves people from boring administration jobs and computers won’t ever do all facets of the media buying process. Most people would agree there’s a layer of improvement that can be made by using technology to make people’s jobs more exciting and that’s not a bad thing.”
However, Goodsir admits the massive flux that programmatic has brought to adland has meant many agencies have failed to keep pace. “There’s a lot of different trading platforms, there’s so many different ways to buy these days. The challenge for agencies is keeping up with the new technologies.
“For agencies there needs to be a consolidation of the technology. At the moment there’s just so many different ways to do different things because of the technology. If you’re a media buyer buying across lots of different platforms there’s lots of ways to do it and I think that needs to be consolidated particularly from a measurement perspective,” she added.
Goodsir said that a lot of media businesses – be they big or small – were daunted by the pace and change of technology and by audience’s viewing habits and the challenge was to put systems in place that wouldn’t be redundant in 18 months’ time. “Even I admit we’ve seen more change in people’s viewing habits in the past five years than we have in the previous 20 and because of that you are constantly having to find the new technologies to service those new platforms and that’s where it starts to get very complicated,” Goodsir said.
We’ve already seen some larger companies bring some of their media buying in-house. So does Goodsir think that will increasingly become the industry norm? “Yes, I think that will happen,” she said. “But the challenge there is driven by technology and the big challenge is understanding the competency of what the technology can and can’t do and knowing how it works and what it is capable of doing. I think everyone’s looking at better ways to buy and sell media and for a company like MCN, that’s growing all the time, it’s about having the infrastructure and scalability that it needs to be not future-proof but future-ready.
“We’re in a technology age and technology is driving media consumption and changing everyone’s viewing habits. Fundamental shifts like that will force change but that doesn’t mean people will lose their jobs. They will be out of the old job and into the new tech job. That person that used to be an admin person will now be a data scientist or data technologist or a different job that we haven’t even heard of yet.
“The workplace is shifting and changing but there’ll still be a job for someone, it just won’t be the same job. There’ll always be forced change and we have to live with that,” she said.
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