Comprised of a ridiculous number of steps, buying local spots proves a giant pain for both agencies and brands. Buyers are tasked with going to each station with different pricing and structures only to determine the inventory may not be available. This less-than-desirable workflow is inefficient, consuming an abundance of resources and allowing space for errors to occur. Local spots are a lifeblood to the advertising ecosystem and automating the buy would significantly advance the workflow for both buyers and sellers. For example, if inventory could easily be filtered it would provide a holistic view of what is available within seconds.
- For buyers, they would be afforded the ability to capitalize on better time and placement by immediately taking action. Additionally, the visibility to local metrics would equip them with greater accuracy to reach a more targeted, exact audience.
- For sellers, they would be able to meet a demand much more effectively, generating a higher rate. They would also benefit from increased savings because of a more efficient workflow that reduces manual intervention and enhances transparency for all.
Technology and standards are currently serving as the catalysts to make automation of the local spot buy happen, while simultaneously creating the obstacles holding us back as an industry.
Currently, the call for standards are not only vague in nature but are pacing behind the advancements continually being brought forth with new technology. And although the technology is evolving, it is continuing to do so in a disparate manner, increasing the number of silos within the operation.
Standards should not only define how technologies work together in a proposed roadmap, but they also need to define the key to the map. For example, all terminology across every vendor in the chain should be the same, so that the data is able to seamlessly integrate and flow to anywhere in the workflow without being compromised. Additionally, common APIs should be articulated, enabling media companies to adopt a plug and play like solution that works seamlessly regardless of the different vendor systems they deploy throughout their advertising ecosystem.
There is a stated desire to adopt a common currency but given how far-reaching it is, it may prove tricky to implement for all broadcasters, cable networks, publishers, mobile, digital, out-of-home advertisers, and more. For example, publishers want to maximize their revenue and eliminate inefficient processes and if standards don’t allow this, they will deploy workarounds. I do believe that a few standards will pop-up and as they do ad buyers and agencies will start moving business to their preferred standard while possibly adopting a few methods. This will defeat the purpose of capitalizing on one common currency standard agreed to by all. Overtime, impressions and segmented audiences will become currency and measured exposure will determine price.
There are many moving parts and players involved with automating the buy of local spots. Being on the same page from the onset is mission-critical to delivering advertising workflow solutions that are cohesive by design and scalable across platforms. TVNewsCheck shared an article earlier this year that highlighted activities in the works to make local spot buying automation a reality.
What stands clear to me is that we, as an industry, need to speak the same language, and that language needs to be defined by industry-wide standards through technology stacks built on open, two-way architecture. Without them, manual intervention will be required, and the benefits of automated local spot buying will be severely compromised, or better yet never transpire.