What’s Going On?
Many predicted the year 2020 would bring flying cars in a Jetsons-esque society. While some predictions proved to be slightly outlandish, we’ve definitely come a long way in the technology realm. Robots have taken on many unique shapes and sizes (a little less Optimus Prime, a little more BB-8). In the last 20 years alone, industries across the world have introduced substantial technological advancements. One of the most significant innovations has been the evolution of automation and its increasingly important role in everyday life. Automation will undoubtedly continue to change the workplace and the overall economy in years to come.
The word automation is defined as “the automatically controlled operation of an apparatus, process, or system by mechanical or electronic devices that take the place of human labor.” Automation is present in modern businesses of all sizes, taking on various forms, ranging from subtle features in common software applications, like scheduling a company-wide email to be sent at 9am tomorrow morning using Mailchimp, to more obvious implementation, like self-driving vehicles used for delivery. Automation technology can be used to simplify, accelerate, and maximize business processes. How is all of this possible? Data, data, data…and the internet.
Friend, Not Foe.
Many have viewed automation as the enemy, with growing concerns about the fates of workers whose jobs are automated out of existence. However, busy lives can benefit greatly from automated technology—on both a personal and professional level. Automation ultimately fuels efficiency, o!ering more productivity in our work and personal lives. This technology has made its way into our homes, adding automation to everyday activities in the form of internet-connected, smart home devices like appliance-controlling adapters, smart lighting, smart speakers, security cameras, video doorbells, smart thermostats, and vacuum cleaners.
“Why Work Harder When You Can Work Smarter?”
Automating repetitive business processes, frees up workers for tasks that are less mundane or more valuable to the organization instead of basic, repetitive tasks that can easily be completed by machines and/or software. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) enable new forms of “smart” automation for businesses. The more the software learns, the more adaptable it becomes. The ability of these software programs to learn over time means they can pore through massive troves of data more quickly and effectively and contextualize that information in a useful way to support internal decision-making. Automation is already playing a role in many businesses across the board, whether it’s providing better customer service, streamlining day-to-day processes, or—as is the case with Digital Remedy and our clients—more efficiently managing ad campaigns
Automation’s Impact on the Advertising Space
The advertising industry has experienced its fair share of disruption by automation (and disruptions in general). Many people working in media might view automation as a direct threat to their role but it’s important to note that there have already been numerous automations that have occurred for the better. Thank goodness we don’t still use physical tear sheets or have to messenger ads on cassettes to networks. The introduction of new automated technology in the ad space has proven that it still requires some level of human touch. Today, we can efficiently buy digital media programmatically (more to come on that), and more media types are hopping on the bidding train. As an increasing number of media types become available for purchase programmatically, organizations who are set up for automation now, will have a better chance of competing in the future.
As organizations strive to meet increased demands for personalization and competitive innovations in technology, investments in marketing technology, measurement, and analytics continue to be a priority for businesses. Advertisers and agencies need to collect, authenticate, and analyze increasing amounts of consumer data and are finding success in targeting hyper-segmented audiences through machine learning. As a result, they are constantly in search of the best technology to apply to and support their campaigns.
B2B organizations are turning to data and analytics, ad tech, marketing automation, and more recently, customer data platforms—the tools that also empower the B2C digital transformation. Marketing automation—the tools, platforms, and tactics which allow businesses to automate repetitive tasks to nurture prospects and leads across channels (including customer segmentation and campaign management)—increases revenue and maximizes efficiency, while requiring less overall e!ort. The bottom line of marketing automation is, well, the bottom line. Automating processes saves time and allows resources to be diverted elsewhere.
Top best use cases of automation for marketing and branding purposes according to UK/U.S. marketing and branding professionals include:
Improving the Media Buying Process
Programmatic ad buying (and selling) has played a key role in changing the face of digital advertising. Instead of humans, software and machines are now automatically buying and placing ads in various channels, allowing for smart media buying, which helps reduce time, resources, and costs.
The vast majority of U.S. digital display advertising is now bought and sold programmatically, including programmatic direct setups and more traditional forms of real-time bidding (RTB). This year, these transactions will make up 84.5% of the digital display ad market.
Automation allows advertisers and agencies to seamlessly manage media, traffic, creative assets, and talent across all channels. As technology becomes more sophisticated, automation software will continue to prove its ability to enhance the overall ad experience and fuel data-driven business decisions in the industry
Spend With Benefits
Efficiency, convenience, speed, scale, and cost savings are just some of the many benefits that the introduction of automation has brought to the advertising space. Automated software creates a competitive flexibility that organizations might not have otherwise. One challenge for advertisers and agencies is selecting the right partner to effectively tap into the power of their data. While many organizations have systems like CRM in place to store and organize customer data, few are using tools and platforms that can really unlock their data’s value. We live in an increasingly connected, fast-paced, deadline-driven world where clients need things, “like, yesterday.” Success in the current ad environment requires accuracy, profitability, and above all, rapid results. Software as a service (SaaS) models are gaining momentum as software automation continues to expand and become more refined. When clients are provided with the right tools and resources, the possibilities are endless.
COVID-19 Impact on Agencies
Across just about every industry, brands and organizations have had to make massive pivots by shifting priorities, budgets, and talent, brought on by COVID-19. Agencies, each with their own specific needs, are having supply chain issues and are being required to do more for less. Downsizing of the workforce and a shift to contracting of resources will likely force ad giants to embrace automation and other digital technologies to maintain the pace of work and become more agile. Budget and staff cuts have sparked a reimagining of strategies among agencies as well as shakeup their business models. EMarketer reports that programmatic strategists are currently seeing increased demand for services as marketers look to experts to help guide them through current uncertainty.
The Digital Remedy Solution: AdReady+
In August, we launched our AdReady+ solution, a self-service automated platform designed to support independent agency success in navigating digital advertising management, from campaign planning, RFPs, media execution, to insightful reporting. AdReady+ offers a single source of truth for companies seeking to balance the demands of the marketplace with the pressure to provide clients with real-time, intelligent campaign performance reports. We took all the data and campaign metrics that our clients could possibly need and housed it in an easy-to-navigate, easy-to-digest centralized dashboard.
While the plan for AdReady+ has been in the works for some time, the disruption caused by the global COVID-19 outbreak this year accelerated our efforts to bring our internal tools to the market, providing clients access to execute their campaigns through our “pipes,” in the shape of a holistic, end-to-end solution. By leveraging AdReady+, agencies can tap into the stack of 300+ platforms, inventory sources, data offerings, and Digital Remedy partners, to plan, buy, report on, and optimize campaigns—all while reducing stress, overhead costs, and time spent on campaign management. We believe AdReady+ is the future of the digital advertising industry. And while cars still don’t fly, the media planning process sure can.
How We See It: What’s Happening & What’s To Come
Here’s some insights from different members of our exec team regarding how automation is impacting their team operations, responsibilities, and client business.
Mike Seiman – CEO
“An increasing number of clients are looking for both speed in pulling campaign data and the ability to receive custom suggestions based on said data. Digital Remedy offers our clients software that not only provides real-time ad performance data but also produces insights for future decision making. Our AdReady+ platform was introduced to complement our client service team, not replace it. We value our business relationships and believe that our team’s experience and talent, combined with the power of our innovative, automated solutions, yields the best of both worlds to our clients, which is just what the market needs during these unprecedented, and uncertain times.”
Jeff Reitzen – EVP, Innovation & Operations
“Advertiser expectations are ever-increasing, creating added complexities in media buying. In the past, staffing was crucial to balance the demand on ad companies that managed the ebb and flow of client budgets turning on and o! throughout the year. Staffing and client service is still an important aspect and experienced ad managers are crucial to the success of an ad company. It’s more crucial than ever to take as much of the minutiae off of high-valued team members so they can focus their energy on performance and client strategy. All of this has led to an increased reliance on flexible business automation. Ad companies that aren’t investing in automation in 2020 risk unavoidable human error and shrinking margins. We are constantly tweaking our algorithms to improve our workflow, increase transparency for our clients, and make data more accessible for all levels of the business.”
Michael Juhas – EVP, Client Services
“As the cost of media continues to be under a microscope in the age of transparency, it’s imperative for tech and service providers to shift to automation in order to run a successful business. In fact, the margin crunch isn’t just hitting service and tech platforms, but the entire supply chain, including agencies and publishers. From a Client Service perspective, we are being asked for the same output for lower margins. Because of this, we’ve been pushed to find ways to streamline processes and deliver on client expectations, while not throwing more people at the problem. We have achieved this by working with our product and tech teams, which have supplied more efficient ways of intaking orders and delivering both standard and custom reporting.”
TJ Sullivan – EVP, Sales
“The biggest challenge for our partners is servicing their clients’ needs as quickly as possible, while offering them the best strategy. This often puts a strain on time and resources. Independent agencies have selected intelligent, innovative people to win and retain their clients. If that talent is spending their time in between multiple systems aggregating reporting, they can’t focus on achieving the organization’s ultimate goals. Agencies need automation in the media buying process without sacrificing control and quality. We developed AdReady+ to alleviate this major pain point.”