Technological disruptions and the rise of consumerism have created an unprecedented fragmentation in the market. As a result, the job of a media buying agency has become extremely challenging. 4Ps B&M’s amir moin writes on what the future might hold for indian media agencies and why they could well be wiped out if they don’t come up to the ask most urgently

Media Buying System for Placement on Digital Messaging Devices, 2007; United States Patent Application 20070203729. Methods and Systems for Interactive Data Finder (for Media Buying Opportunities), 2011; United States Patent Application 20110258019. System for Optimizing Media Buying for Online Display Advertising, 2010; United States Patent Application 12/780,845....

Troll through the patents repositories in the United States, and you can’t escape the burgeoning number of recent patents that relate to highly quantitative, statistical and complex algorithms that scientists and researchers are churning up, tools which assist media buyers in understanding which media vehicles to buy space in. Move over you human, from now on those will be highly complicated software programs that will sift through bludgeoning amounts of data and then decide which media vehicles to choose and when. And then, more algorithms to find out whether the ads placed in the chosen media spots are effective or not. Oh, so placid and tramp now seems the formula of “reach x frequency = GRP” that authors like H. E. Katz used to propagate in the previous decade (and still do!). Now, much akin to how weather models forecast typhoons using stochastic formulations, media buying internationally – and especially in the Americas – is being decided by factoring in hundreds of events and issues through decision support systems that handle complexities which even a number of highly experienced media buying professionals would not be able to calibrate as a team. This massive move to computerized decision support systems had already started in the US in the mid 90s.

Are you machining yet?

Thus walk in three nattily suited media buying professionals in their pin-striped suits into the client’s office, throw down on the table three laptops that are rabidly analyzing trenches of mined data, matching client requirements and media availability! And voila! The resulting graph on the screen immediately shows up the media purchase options that the client can choose. That’s the US of today. Is that the Indian media buying landscape of the current times? Is that a description that comes even miles close to how an Indian media buying agency works? Honestly speaking, today’s typical Indian media buying agency is leagues away from understanding this gigantic change in the global media buying scenario – leave alone even have quantitatively educated and equipped employees. In fact, the human resource gap for media buying agencies is more critical now than ever.
Where are the ‘right’ employees?
The hallowed Ad:tech Advertising Technology Conference would have already started in New York by the time you’re reading this. Tanzina Vega of New York Times wrote on October 30, 2011 (Advertising Companies Fret Over a Digital Talent Gap; NY Times report) how, this year, the conference would be less about the speakers and more about media buyers hunting for talent. “The dilemma, one familiar to many industries across the country, is particularly acute for jobs that require hard-core quantitative, mathematical and technical skills. The digital talent gap is driven in part by the enormous amount of user data that ad tech companies are collecting for agencies and marketers – data that is instrumental in directing ads to consumers and analyzing trends. New hires are needed for a variety of tasks, including writing code, creating digital advertisements, Web site development and statistical analysis,” Tanzina mentions.

Similar was the tenor held by George John, when he wrote in Forbes in early October 2011, “Change has come to the $30 billion digital advertising industry. The ‘Mad Men’ days are over In the old days, agencies used to place an ad in relatively few places. ‘Give me the back cover of Life magazine and a TV spot at the beginning of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom,’ a media director could say.” And now, George mentions, it’s all about “online ad networks, real-time bidding, inventory exchanges, data exchanges, and offline metrics studies... a shift toward rational, computational, and algorithmic media buying.”

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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2011.

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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