If you’ve ever used Google’s AdWords product, you know how blissfully simple it is to plan, budget, buy, track, and pay for your campaigns from a single interface. It’s intuitive enough for virtually any small business to figure out on their own, but flexible enough to scale up to the world’s largest marketers. Compare that now to the way most agencies buy digital media from online publishers, hacking their way through Excel templates, a pile of system interfaces, gobs of email threads, and fax machine printouts with an army of entry-level communications graduates. To get a display media campaign live, it’s downright prehistoric, and certainly one of the biggest growth liabilities to the industry.
That’s why the MediaBank / Donavan Data Systems merger, assuming it gets approved by the Department of Justice, is so significant, because it has the potential to link all the systems an agency needs to execute a media buy from start to finish, thereby dramatically simplifying the process, and making it more efficient to spend money in digital. If you work in Ops, MediaOcean has the promise to effectively end standard ad trafficking as you know it, moving your team away from ad server monkeys to a far more strategic QA and custom campaign execution experts.
How exactly would this happen? The vision is for these companies to combine their existing agency workflow management software, and then develop a powerful open source API connection for outside ad technology companies to build on top of their existing product. Between the two companies, MediaBank & DDS already effectively own the market for agency workflow systems. This is the software agencies already use to manage traditional advertising campaigns, covering everything from tracking client budgets and agency fees, to actually booking ads with publishers. Now, the companies want to combine forces to enable those same benefits on digital channels. Through their APIs, the systems might connect the marketer’s ad server to the publisher’s ad server, allowing a machine to book the campaign, or at least mostly, instead of a human.
In my mind, the success of MediaOcean would move the Ad Ops department in most companies to a much more strategic place in the organization, removing the need for a brute force army of traffickers, and instead creating the opportunity for more technical strategists. By spending less time going through the motions in the ad server to get simple campaigns live, Ad Ops could transition to client facing, cross-department consultants that enable highly specialized sponsorship campaigns, cross platform buys, and provide smart optimization strategies to drive more impactful results for advertisers. Vendor implementations, campaign measurement, campaign execution, company communication, everything gets easier. It’s about as close to a silver bullet solution as I could think of to some of the biggest issues facing digital advertising.
Here’s hoping it works, and next year we’re talking about the impact of MediaOcean, instead of its potential.
Read about the other most significant developments in Ad Ops in 2011: