The world has already changed. The scientists have invented, the consumers have decided, the marketers are voting with their checkbooks. It's only us - those who sell and buy advertising - who cling to anachronistic systems and practices.
Reading that first paragraph you may think I missed the programmatic decade. I didn't.
Programmatic automation of commodity media buying was the asteroid that struck our genteel, structured world, forever changing the climate for agencies and publishers alike. But a dozen years after the big programmatic strike, most agencies and publishers still have the automation walled off and operating in its own island ecosystem. Meanwhile, the principal members of the tribe - the expensive sellers, buyers, creatives, account managers and others - have resisted the kind of radical species adaptation that the altered world demands.
For one thing, we still - for the most part - rely on the anachronistic rhythms of a rapidly disappearing business. Languid planning cycles, RFPs, campaigns and annual upfronts were relevant in a world of closing dates, air dates, a fixed number of media providers and a predictable pool of available inventory. Today, everything that's standard, known or predictable is transacted by machines - or soon will be.
Challenged to now manage more strategic and complicated marketing services - content creation, influencers, content marketing, events - many media shops have simply gone back to the much-maligned RFP. And while simultaneously railing against it, many publishers build their entire strategy - a strategy of waiting and responding - around this archaic system. Add to this our collective failure of imagination about how to integrate programmatic and high-touch solutions into harmonious programs. It's not a pretty picture.
To radically adapt our professions as buyers and sellers would be to abandon the campaign mentality and embrace a perpetual cycle of problem solving and iteration. It would lead us to dismiss the illusion of budget stability and the silos and swim lanes it fosters. It would drive us to create and commit to new processes and structures for operating in what's now a mostly-unstructured world. Our professional lives will be spent proactively, left of budget and in service to marketers, the products they sell, and the customers they serve.
Adaptation is hard. But extinction is permanent.
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