About two years ago I was visiting a media agency to discuss some ideas for a new product.Â After the meeting, one of the traffickers, let’s call her Abby, pulled me aside and asked to show me a huge Excel file she had to produce in order to traffic a campaign on one of the major campaign management platforms. She spent hours working on that file, compiling hundreds of small insignificant details. The end result allowed her to get her campaign live but did nothing beyond that to improve the results of her campaign. This was just one of the many frustrating aspects of Abby’s job, she said.
Something about this short conversation was surprising to me. It wasn’t the content – I already knew coming in how unfriendly and unforgiving some campaign management platforms were. It was actually the tone and intensity of this conversation that grabbed my attention.
Abby knew there was nothing I could have done to help her.Â The agency she was working for was forced to continue to use that specific platform due to some existing client relationships. Nonetheless, Abby was eager to illustrate to me the senseless way she had been spending her days. As I was watching her get taken-over by her story,Â it occurred to me that she just needed someone to talk to- someone to acknowledge her pain. It’s like when you go to see the doctor. Three minutes in to the visit he or she already knows what’s wrong with you. Yet, you spend the next twenty minutes just describing how much it hurts…
In the years that have passed since meeting Abby I have heard her frustration and pain echoed by traffickers, planners, designers, developers and media & creative directors. While the digital space has matured and grown more complicated, the supporting technology has by and large stagnated. Abby and her friends have been left hanging, struggling to get through their campaigns – one Excel at a time…
I believe that as a first step, all of us in this industry have to admit we have a problem. In fact, based on my observations, we actually have (at least) three problems:
First, we have dysfunctional campaign processes. There is not one aspect of the campaign management process that lives up to the promise of efficiency and automation worthy of this digital age. Traffickers like Abby are spending days trying to push media plans into awkward and unforgiving platforms, refreshing browsers to find live ad screen grabs one by one, endlessly exchanging tags with publishers while struggling to avoid looming catastrophes.
Second, we are facing immense analytic complexities. If you make it through the sisyphic effort of consolidating numerous separate data sources, you’re likely to end up with a vast collection of data that actually leaves you less intelligent. Cross channel analysis is often impossible – search and display are managed in silos while true path to conversion is often ignored.
Third, we are struggling with inflexible technology. Our universe includes numerous tools, platforms and databases that refuse to talk with each other. Trying to get the ad server to synch up with the billing platform is almost impossible. Integrating web analytics with campaign engagement and conversion data is excruciating. Selecting the right bid management solution for our “best of breed” platform remains a fantasy as we’re locked into inferior tools cross-sold to us by our legacy vendors.
Admitting we have a problem is the first step towards a solution. The second step is to define clearly what we are looking for. After spending the last two years listening to Abby and many of her friends – the true unsung heroes of this industry – I think their message is loud and clear. They are saying – DIGITAL SHOULD BE SIMPLE.
Eldad Persky | Director, Product Planning & Business Development