Taoism emphasizes the harmony of nature, or the natural state. When someone exerts his will against the natural state, harmony is disrupted for everyone, and the results are bad. When that person chooses to apply his will in harmony with the natural state, everyone benefits, and the results are good. Water is the classical symbolic representation. Working with it improves life, while working against it endangers life.
There is a natural state to the digital media world. It is a state of balance (a yin and yang) between human- and technology-enabled planning and buying. The publishers that embrace this harmony will thrive. The publishers that rail against it, well, they won’t fair too well in the long run, as no one does in a battle with nature. Below is some free advice from a media buyer on how publishers can embrace the Tao of Digital:
1. Exchange inventory does not need to be cheap inventory. There are a lot of conversations on the devaluation of digital inventory brought on by ad exchanges. Stop thinking that way. There will always be a market for remnant inventory on exchanges, and that inventory needs to be priced accordingly. However, there will also be demand for premium inventory — the actual inventory — not the way it is purchased. Realize that there is a labor cost associated with sending out RFPs, sifting through proposals, building insertion orders and trafficking those line items. If a brand only needs the inventory, let’s use technology to save us all some time (and money). Open up all of your inventory to private exchanges, but price it accordingly. If you are saving 20 percent of the labor cost by avoiding your end of the paper pushing, then reduce the inventory cost by 20 percent. Even reduce it by 15 percent and take an extra 5 percent to the bottom line; we’ll still find the value in it, and you’ll find more profit to compete with the likes of Google, Facebook, etc.
2. Today’s sales reps are tomorrow’s marketing reps. High impact units, content integrations, multichannel programs will always have a market to serve because clients’ objectives are as many as there are attributes in our cookie profiles. As you open up your inventory to the exchange world, change the value proposition of your sales force. Make them extensions of a brand team or an agency team. Give them the tools, information and permission they need to put together attention-grabbing marketing programs the likes of which you could never achieve in an automated, programmatic world. They’ll get more job satisfaction from a role like that, and our clients will reap the benefits for their brands.
3. Audiences are the new premium inventory. The ad unit itself is just a window into audiences. Brands and agencies are increasingly going after audiences. Those audiences are illuminated by the omnipresent glow of BIG data, and the right audiences are the premium unit of tomorrow. Even of today. data management platform technology paired with an exchange driven world allows us as marketers to stop thinking about the ad unit and think more deeply about the person. As you open 100 percent of your inventory to private exchanges, you enable audience intelligence and targeting via agency platforms — which is proven to deliver better results. Then, take one extra step and provide audiences of your own. Pass that intelligence through via the third-party party data marketplace. Understanding and segmenting the people attracted to your content will reap rewards on both on the inventory side and on the data side. You are then applying your will in harmony with nature, and we all win.
By embracing the duality of the digital media world, you have a unique opportunity to flow along with the evolution of the digital world. Those that act first will benefit most, and those that don’t act will eventually wash away with the tide.