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Programmatic vs Workflow: Different Kinds of Automation?

31 October 2013 | Blog

MyersBizNet included a great article last week by Jay Sears called “Six Advertising Automation Trends for Buyers and Sellers” about some of the trends the major trading desks are seeing. He concludes:

Automation is transforming the buying and selling of advertising. Ad holding companies, operating agencies, agency trading desk and leading publishers are all being impacted by the march to automation. Programmatic solutions bring greater effectiveness to advertising and greater value creation to be shared between buyer and seller. Workflow solutions bring greater efficiency and allow people to avoid manual redundant tasks and spend time on work that is more fun and valuable.

He makes a great point about the different kinds of automation, breaking out programmatic solutions versus workflow solutions. Visible World’s platform offers both, and so it’s easy to let it all fall under the description of “automation”. But Sears is right—these are two different things.

Data-driven ad buying has been possible for a while, but with the sexy new term “programmatic” and a healthy dose of automation, it’s been taking off recently. Regardless of what it’s called, the ability to aggregate impressions to form audiences so that messages can be targeted is incredibly valuable. However, it’s also only practical with sufficient automation—no human is going to sort through the reams of data necessary to pair the right message with the right audience. Instead, specifying the desired audience and then letting the programmatic algorithms do their work makes it simple to plan consumer-focused campaigns. It’s a revolution in how TV audiences are bought.

Workflow solutions, on the other hand, do the same things that have previously been done manually, only more easily. Reducing the amount of manual labor frees up media planners to do the strategic thinking necessary to take advantage of the opportunities that targeted TV advertising allows. Workflow solutions enable time and cost savings for media companies, marketers and agencies (creative, digital and media). As Sears notes, the resulting work is not only more valuable, it’s less daunting. Automating the workflow lets computers do the boring bits so humans can focus on what’s really important.

Both types of automation are valuable on their own. But paired together, they become even more powerful than either could be separately. An automated workflow frees up capacity to truly focus on strategic targeting, making ads work harder than ever. Whatever combination of automation an agency may choose, these new solutions are indeed transforming the way that advertising is executed.