What Does The Future Hold For Automated Guaranteed?

richardjalichandrasellsiderThe Sell Sider” is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.

Today’s column is written by Richard Jalichandra, CEO at iSocket.

A recent AdExchanger column concluded that everyone is to blame for lagging automated guaranteed adoption. Buyers, sellers and vendors are not exempt.

I agree. All parties bear responsibility for making this new ecosystem a success, but there’s some differences in how I think about the future of automated guaranteed. First, I believe automated guaranteed is compatible with a futures marketplace and second, publishers are savvier than some in the tech industry often give them credit for.

Change doesn’t happen overnight. Like any emerging technology, automated guaranteed can be most successful when we don’t try to reinvent the wheel from the get-go. Even though automation changes the way we do everything, new technology can be most effective if it, at least initially, mimics the way people have always done things, and whenever possible, integrates with existing systems to make workflows seamless.

The automation of guaranteed media sales can be used to create new marketplaces and forge connections between sellers and new buyers, but it can also be used to automate the workflow for existing direct sales.

Right now, a single deal can require more than 40 steps from the initial RFPs to negotiation, execution and trafficking. This is where guaranteed comes in. By automating mundane tasks, media planners and sellers can spend more time working on unique, custom packages, rather than double-checking line items and trafficking creatives. Nothing else about the way business gets done has to change materially in order for automated guaranteed to start helping buyers and sellers today.

Futures Markets And Digital Negotiation

The AdExchanger piece argues that a major reason buyers aren’t adopting automated guaranteed is because of the difficulty in comparing inventory pricing without a futures marketplace, but implementing workflow automation doesn’t preclude buyers from having access to a futures market. Automated guaranteed can support the execution of future media buys. This is a primary use case.

Secondly, negotiation isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so supporting negotiation is a necessary component of any automated guaranteed tool. Prenegotiated prices aren’t always going to be an option. Publishers need to preserve the ability to create custom packages that include a variety of unique sponsorships, sometimes combining standard ad units with sponsorship. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to incorporate prenegotiated pricing in circumstances like this. Fortunately, negotiation is an option that’s supported with the product by automated guaranteed platforms.

Publishers’ Cold Feet

I’ve found that most publishers, including the majority of the comScore Top 250, fully appreciate the difference between tools that have been designed for RTB and workflow automation. Even publishers that have previously shied away from programmatic due to (justified) fears of plummeting CPMs have been willing to invest, or at the very least explore, workflow automation for their sales and ad ops teams. It can enable salespeople to respond to RFPs with custom packages, allow ops to traffic creatives seamlessly and help with billing and invoicing. Many publishers see the value there, and are exploring the ways in which they can incorporate new tools into their existing business.

Open APIs And The Importance Of Extensibility

Open APIs are required to connect all aspects of the buying process and integrate buying and selling systems.

Here’s one instance where I couldn’t agree more. Open APIs and extensible platforms are an absolute necessity for automated guaranteed to mature. Neither publishers nor buyers want to log into countless tools and pull information from different silos. We’ve seen progress in this area, but here is the biggest opportunity for continued growth. Open APIs aren’t enough if we don’t have the connections to make buyers’ and sellers’ jobs truly seamless.

As we continue to build out infrastructure here, I predict we’ll soon see rapid increases in adoption.

Follow Richard Jalichandra (@jalichandra), iSocket (@iSocket) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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