A New School Of Thinking: 10 Trends For Marketing Campaigns

“Ad Agents” is a column written by the agency-side of the digital media community.

Greg Hills is platform manager of media trading agency, Varick Media Management.


As our industry continues to rationalize the way brands buy advertising, we’ve seen plenty of new companies and products pop up. Some provide solutions to old advertising problems, like universal frequency capping. Others deal with fresh challenges, like how to handle tens of thousands of real time bidding requests per second.

Despite the rapid pace of innovation, I think its possible to identify 10 larger trends that will continue to operate for years. Taken together they represent not just a bunch of complementary technologies and organizational challenges, but rather a new school of thought — a new way to to think about, plan, and execute marketing campaigns.

Old School New School
Buying Pages


Buying Audience
Forward Markets


Spot Markets
Sellside Optimizes For Both Advertiser Performance And Publisher Yields


Sellside Optimizes For Publisher Yield While Buyside Optimizes For Advertiser Performance
Sellside Aggregates Audience


Everyone (Sellside, Buyside, Intermediaries) Aggregates Audience
Technology Is Strategic For The Sellside And Tactical For The Buyside


Technology Is Strategic For Everyone
Agencies Work To Foster Internal Collaboration Between Digital And Non-Digital Buyers


Agencies Work To Foster Internal Collaboration Between Buyers Of Display And Buyers Of Site Integrations And HPTO’s
Buy Instructions And Optimization Instructions Submitted Via Email Phone & Fax


Buy Instructions And Optimization Instructions Submitted Via API
Testing Cycles Of 4-12 Weeks For Brand Metrics And Media Performance


Testing Cycles Of 4-12 Days For Brand Metrics And Media Performance
Agencies Allocate Dollars Manually Based On Publisher’s Reach, Brand Equity And Perceived Value


Agencies Allocate Dollars Through Automation, Based On Modeling Of Projected Returns On Ad Spend
Agencies Rely On A/B Testing For Learning


Agencies Use Exploratory Data Analysis For Learning, As Well As A/B Testing

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  1. Greg – great analysis (and nice to see you posting here!) I think there is a real opportunity for DSPs to help the masses of the “old school” move towards a more sophisticated and “new school” display buying model.

  2. Love the post Greg. That said, I expect we’ll find that with # 1 and 2, the stuff that is currently “old” will become new again.

    Buying a cookie-targeted audience and a page-targeted audience are tactics that can be used to reach the same goal. Smart buyers will increasingly compare them side-by-side and figure out where the efficiencies lie.

    Similarly, a liquid spot market where pricing and availability is less predictable will stimulate demand for a forward market. I’m sure this will take longer due to some systemic issues, but it will come.

    • Agreed. A cookie-targeted buy may in some cases just be a page-targeted buy without the benefit of contextual relevancy….you can argue whether the right audience or the right context is more valuable, but having the right audience AND the right context is certainly best of all.

      I think a key building block for an exchange-mediated secondary forward market (as opposed to the traditional agency/publisher/IO primary forward market) will be public indices on pricing and volume. I have my eye on Metamarkets, a company in this space.

  3. Great post Greg. With #1 and #2, valuing audiences and ‘unbundling impressions’ in real-time will be of critical importance. Keep these posts coming.