While the “Mad Men” era of TV advertising was characterized by three-martini lunches, the current era is characterized by the push toward efficiency, most notably programmatic transactions that are data-enabled with increased automation. For many, these trends raise the prospect of a future of machine-to-machine only interactions, with minimal human involvement.
But, attending the SpotX Connect half-day breakfast event in NYC yesterday, I heard a very different message from participants on one session after another: contrary to the “automation-is-king” mythology, human relationships and engagement are actually still very much at the core of how things work in today’s video ad business.
Panelists from across the ecosystem - content providers, ad buyers and technologists on both the demand and supply sides - repeatedly referenced how their success is based on deep collaboration and learning from one another. As an attendee I found it striking how often panelists raised these points. The primary reason cited was how quickly the video ad business is evolving and how working together is critical.
For content providers in particular, who have witnessed massive changes in how viewers consume their product, and how it is monetized, developing close relations with their technology partners is paramount. In a fireside chat, Alex Rauchman, Digital Programmatic Yield Manager at Discovery, noted how the company has embraced a “consultative approach.” He observed how SpotX’s automated guarantee feature, which he advocated for and was recently launched, was responsible for the success of a major campaign last month.
Rauchman’s comments were just one of many highlighting the importance of collaboration and relationships. While some focused on successful relations with SpotX, more broadly they spoke to how the industry’s business is getting done by learning new ways to work together. Somewhere way down the road we may be in a fully machine-driven environment, but for now, with huge industry changes occurring, my takeaway from the event was that human relationships are absolutely central for many industry executives.