With the introduction of digital advertising’s first unit in 1994, media began to change as a new, more digital savvy generation emerged. Traditional media began to inform the structure and formats with digital advertising. More than 20 years after the first banner ad and the evolution of digital advertising formats, digital is now poised to lead the buying processes and technologies behind traditional media.

I attended the IAB Advance Programmatic Training in New York last month where agency leaders spoke about the progression of programmatic media buying as they see it presently and in the future with an understanding from leaders in the supply and buy side of programmatic. The training made me think about how the industry needs to evolve with the changes.

Traditional Media Paving Way for Digital

“Tastes change, fashions change, and the advertiser has to change with them. An idea that was effective a generation ago would fall flat, stale, and unprofitable if presented to the public today. Not that the idea of today is always better than the older idea, but it is different – it hits the present taste.”

The more than 100-year-old words written by Thomas Barratt, the father of modern advertising, have never rung more true in today’s advertising landscape with overlapping spend, creative, and buying practices within every advertising channel: print, television, radio, out of home, and digital.

Standard digital ad placement types have followed the design and format of traditional media placements with nearly every iteration. Banner ads spawned from print units in newspapers, video units emerged from commercials on television, native advertising was borne from advertorials in magazines, and online music streaming ads transitioned from commercial spots on radio.

While these formats continue to evolve since the first in 1994, the seeming curve for format creation has levelled and the requirement for creative and efficient strategies within plans and buying processes has come into focus. Thus, the inauguration of programmatic, as a buying means, emerged in 2007 with the industry’s first DSPs. This provided advertisers with efficiency at scale and more control than the ad networks introduced in the late 90s.

Since its inception in 2007, advertisers have dipped their toes in and out of the automated waters, at times fully submerging themselves, while others have towel dried after the initial splash. Several advertisers have publicly acknowledged their digital budgets range from 50-100% in programmatic spend whether on the open exchange or through private marketplace campaigns. While other brands are edging their way in with guaranteed programmatic deals, which eliminate work and time spent around an insertion order, but, look and feel like a traditional direct to publisher digital buy. In either case, or the multiple between, the marketplace has established programmatic buying as an essential way to purchase digital advertising for more than its efficiency at scale.

Digital Media Paving Way for New Buying Model

Programmatic advertising, as a new wave of digital buying, is creating buying and selling efficiencies with the technology behind automation. No longer are the days of constant updates to an IO, four-plus month planning and buying processes, and uncertainty around targeting resulting in spend waste. The current generation of digital advertising is solving for this with shortened timing of budget shifts in a DSP, ability to purchase impressions at a second’s notice, and data-driven precision targeting.  Automation is the new standard as technology progresses.

As automated buying solidifies itself as the new standard in digital media, it will and is edging into traditional media buying, possibly changing established agency structures and buying processes. Programmatic television and print have already surfaced within major networks and corporations such as Time, Inc. While the idea of an almost fully programmatic budget spanning across digital and traditional media may be years into the future, agency structures will need to change to accommodate the new generation of media buying.

The traditional separated planning and buying teams may evolve into the programmatic buying team, who has the full understanding of technologies’ abilities to deliver on goals, partnered with an analytics and assurance team, who is client facing ensuring campaigns are appropriately translated to fit business goals and budgets are executed with integrity inclusive of verification.

The Next Generation of Advertising

It’s vital to stay on top of the shifting landscape of programmatic. Our media value measurement team is at the forefront of these changes, attending conferences and trainings – such as the IAB Advance Programmatic Training — as well as helping lead organizations to apply new tactics to their media strategies.

As digital leads the next generation of advertising, advertisers need to stay ahead of the changes and learn all of the programmatic endeavors their agencies are making. The more understanding and knowledge, the greater ability an advertiser has to manage the agency properly and affect media being bought on its behalf.