It's strange—and a bit maddening—when you think about it: While digital has fundamentally changed how we think about advertising, a lot of us still set up our campaigns in more or less the same ways we did before the Internet came along. The RFPs go out to publishers, the negotiations take place, the IOs go back and forth and the wasted hours pile up. It's a bit like building a house with Stone Age tools: It can be done, but it's going to be a lot harder and take a lot longer.
The good news is that in recent years, a type of ad buying known as "automated guaranteed"—and sometimes as "programmatic direct"—has burst onto the scene, and it's bringing the workflow behind digital marketing into, well, the digital age.
An automated system to simplify the process
Automated guaranteed is the direct sales strategy of the future. An online platform like Rubicon Project's new Orders platform gives buyers and sellers the ability to handle the entire RFP, negotiation and execution process start-to-finish in a simple user interface, setting price and accessing audience data, avails and pacing. The ads are pushed directly to the publisher's ad server, and—crucially—advertisers know where and when their ads appear. In other words, automated guaranteed resembles what you're doing for your premium campaigns right now, only it's all done seamlessly through an automated platform. Processes that used to take days or weeks now require just minutes or hours.
Running an automated guaranteed campaign isn't all that different from setting up a campaign on Facebook or any other automated platform. You enter your campaign parameters, upload your creative and the bi-directional RFP process eliminates much of the hassle right from the start. The same platform you use to set up your campaign allows you to track key metrics and even pay for the impressions right through the system.
Granted, plenty of publishers and advertisers have already automated certain parts of the buying and selling process. But automated guaranteed isn't only about automating the different parts of a multifaceted campaign. It's about automating in a coherent way so that you don't have to waste valuable time with email, spreadsheets and billing and reporting systems. Sounds nice, eh?
How much time is being wasted in the buying and selling of premium inventory using multiple solutions? A Rubicon Project survey of nearly 400 U.S.-based media professionals conducted in fall, 2014 found that following thousands of orders from beginning to end is just as difficult and time consuming as it sounds. Some 29 percent of respondents revealed that "between 21 and 40 percent of their workday is spent manually coordinating and executing campaigns across all the platforms and services involved." Worse yet, 16 percent said that 41 to 60 percent of their workday is spent manually managing campaigns. (See more findings from this survey in the infographic below.)
Bringing buyers and sellers together
Perhaps the best part of automated guaranteed is that it benefits both buyers and sellers. For sellers, automated guaranteed offer a fast way to scale their number of potential buyers while also delivering CPMs that can be up to 10 times those of RTB campaigns. Buyers, meanwhile, gain easy access to premium inventory and save countless hours setting up and managing their campaigns.
So, the next time you're reading over another RFP or filling out another IO, remember this: There's a better way. The technology that has made advertising campaigns scalable and efficient is bringing a new simplicity and intelligence to premium campaigns.
To learn more about Automated Guaranteed or the Rubicon Project Orders platform, please click here.