Technology Could Kill the Media Buy/Sell Relationship
With the increasing automation of the media buy/sell relationship, there has been a shift towards forcing a square peg in a round whole when it comes to a buyer gleaning information from a media seller for consideration as part of a media program. It's only natural to try to streamline the process but when it eliminates viable media properties, simply because the media property can't fit its (very worthy) square peg sell into the buyer's myopic, square buy hole, that's a very bad thing. And, seemingly, it's all done, not without merit, just to get all potential media vehicles on the same proverbial playing field so the buyer can then compare them using the same set of metrics. Well, an apple isn't an orange and it never will be but apples and oranges are both, still, food worthy of consumption.
We've seen advertiser buysheeet requests that ask not just to fill in the basic info like ad size, CPM and cost, which is all perfectly acceptable, but also to request insanities like "Can you revise the buy sheet to move the row for Flight X up to the row for Flight Y?" Having recently moved from many years on the buy side to the sell side, we're not really surprised. We did our fare share of asking sales reps to do far more than, in hindsight, they should have been asked. But, as a publisher, all requests, however odd, are always completed because no publisher wants a snit fight over nudgy stuff to ruin a deal. Not to mention the dirty, not-so-secret fact that it's the buyer who's in the position of power.
The streamlining of the buy/sell relationship boils down to a combination of the natural tendency for humans to find the path of least resistance, the rise in technology enabled automation and the decline in social skills because all we do now is send email rather than talk/discuss/negotiate on the phone or meet physically. All of the wonderful tools that have been created to streamline the buy/sell interaction have also chipped away at the very important human element, crucial to any form of interaction. That said, one could simply argue there's no need for the human element and that the buy/sell relationship need only to mirror the stock market which requires minimal human interaction to determine costs.
Automation might be killing the art of the buy/sell relationship but it doesn't have to. The solution to retaining a healthy relationship, though, is not a one sided proposition. With the rise of automation, both the but side and the sell side need to realize there's always going to be exceptions and there's always going to be elements of a media property that are unique, unable to be compared equally and only fairly judged when both the round and square pegs are chucked out the window.