Rick Mulia
Sep 2, 2016

The future of automated advertising

Rubicon Project’s Rick Mulia believes the utopian ideal of a single, unified platform is still a ways off, but we’re getting very close to the ‘omnichannel’ ideal, thanks to automation.

Rick Mulia
Rick Mulia

The influence of advertising technology on the industry has become more and more evident in recent years. As the marriage of creativity and technology is solidified, we’re seeing agencies opening practices devoted to technology and data-driven marketing, the most recent of these ventures being Omnicom's new media-agency network, Hearts & Science.

Advertising automation is at the heart of this coming together of technology, data and creativity that is breaking down walls across previously siloed media channels. This coupled with creatives embracing technologists and vice versa, means we are beginning to uncover potential for some of the most interesting advertising propositions we’ve seen yet.

‘Programmatic’ advertising on desktop and mobile devices has taken the lion’s share of headlines in recent years, but this is only a subset of a broader media trend of advertising automation that is revealing itself in different ways across different media.

The advertising industries of TV, outdoor, digital and radio are all being disrupted by consumer technology, the advent of big data and advances in advertising technology.

The broadcaster MCN and StarHub is demonstrating a refreshingly future-thinking attitude in a sector that is encountering challenges and resistance as technology changes consumer behaviour. Its AdSmart technology allows brands to serve automated, targeted ads based on the data points and subscription data each household has amassed.

Spotify is delivering programmatic audio ads on the free version of its music streaming service and outdoor media owners like Clear Channel and Brightmove are embracing automated technology solutions, including Bitposter, to automate outdoor media trading.

America’s largest publisher, Time Inc began selling print ads across its premium titles via automated technology for the first time last year.

Meanwhile, in the UK, a new system to make transactions simpler and more efficient between publishers and media agencies – the Publisher Advertising Transaction System – has been established, offering the ability to book across publishers’ print and digital platforms from a single access point.

Finally, location data is touting itself as the silver bullet for marketers, and xAd sees incredible potential in using location and mobile particularly to connect advertising on all media types with consumers in all environments.

Prime driving forces behind this automation revolution will be reducing friction in the market and the need to make things simpler and more efficient for all parties—advertisers and publishers, alike. Challenges, however, lie in the advertising industry’s ability, or otherwise, to better articulate the automated buying process to more ‘traditional’ sectors of the advertising industry.

But, make no mistake, with a shared desire industry-wide for simplicity, efficiency, and collaboration on creating standards, an automated future for the advertising industry will soon be a reality.

True, the utopian ideal of a single, unified platform that can connect any media buyer with all media types, including ‘traditional’ media in real time, may still be a little way off. Within the next few years, automation will make ‘omnichannel’ happen, making advertising smarter, more engaging and more dynamic. And while we may not be there just yet, we’re getting very close.

The advertisers and agencies will be the ones to reap the benefits of the ‘omnichannel’ approach that publishers, media owners and technology partners can offer. And marketing, as we currently know it, will be transformed. The future is very exciting!

Rick Mulia is the managing director for JAPAC at Rubicon Project

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