By Laurie Sullivan @MediaPost.com
Most marketers seem to understand automation tools streamline media buying, but not many embrace it. Do media buyers not realize automation squeezes out excess costs from the planning process similar to the way it eliminated costs from the manufacturing supply chain.
Automation enabled companies like Intel and Dell to reduce the cost of goods sold. The same thing will happen to the media buying process for paid search and display ads. Automation squeezes excess cost from processes. Media buyers who want to remove the fat from the media buying process will automate.
Burrell Communications wanted to automate the media buying process, so it began testing about three months ago Transis, an automated digital media buying and planning system from Centro, to support companies like American Airlines, Procter & Gamble, and General Mills. Transis organizes campaigns for ad agency teams and get buyers off of Excel, paper and FAX machines. It aims to eliminate the low value work done by buyers, so they can spent more time with clients and being more credit by giving them more time to think.
Automation tools are somewhat overdue, according to Don Moore, president at Burrell Digital. "Marketers understand it intellectually, but do they embrace it?" he says.
Moore argues not many embrace automation tools because a lot of client presentations still consist of the television storyboard, rather than presenting the digital vision to the client in bits and bytes. So how do you get media buyers to embrace automation? One can argue search and display advertising are old-line mediums in digital formats. Clients and agencies realized automation creates effective processes, but the lack of understanding slows adoption.
Automation tools are enabling Burrell to eliminate time from the planning process, but Moore couldn't pinpoint an exact amount. He's crunching the numbers now and would say "we've seen a decrease in man hours in the buying and planning process, but we won't know exactly what that settles on" until we're done auditing the process.
The time once spent in mundane tasks now lets the media buyers think about new programs and strategies for the client. Sometimes people get so busy and wrapped up in current projects media buyers don't have time to think about new social or mobile campaigns. Automation makes time to be creative.
The complexity of the campaign determines how much time automation can eliminate from the process. Some campaigns using Centro have seen between 31% and 65% productivity increase. Centro conducted a workforce optimization study that shows 85% of media buyers would like to spend more time on strategic work, but are devoting the bulk of their time to managing administrative or logistical activities. Nearly half of the respondents are spending more than 50% of their days working in Excel and/or email.
There are other automation tools emerging, too, through demand side platforms (DSPs). Craig Gugel, chief research officer at LogicLab, tells us DSPs focus primarily on automation, automating virtually the entire media-buying process. And then there's Advertising technology company Avenue Right, which released version 3.2 of its Web-based media buying software last month. The platform automates media buyers to plan, buy, analyze, and report on local advertising across multiple media channels.