Last week I was treated to sit in on a major agency pow-wow hosted by The Advertising Club and sponsored by ad exchange ADSDAQ, to address the latest trend in media buying science: Agency Demand Platforms. Each of the four major holding companies, represented by WPP's MediaCom, Omnicom Digital, Publicis' VivaKi and IPG's Cadreon – sent a senior representative from their media business to talk about the move into managing online buys through the construction of demand management platforms to manage online display inventory. The panel was hosted by none other than “the Wenda” who examined the issue of Art vs. Science when buying media at the IAB’s annual conference back in February. As always, she poked and prodded and uncovered the following:

  • Media agencies are not technical, but want to be. Agencies are investing in technology platforms to create defensible value for their media clients. But only WPP has taken the giant step of buying a major ad serving company 24/7 Real Media. Smart money should be invested with technology companies that can customize their interface for the agencies, and provide clients a continuous state of the art experience.
  • Display advertising’s time is still yet to come. The ringer on the panel was Ross Sandler from RBC Capital Markets, who indicated that online display advertising would continue to take a back seat to search for at least another 18-24 months. During that time, targeting and buying behavior will change dramatically as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo launch and update their buy-side interfaces, along with Quantcast and others.
  • Audience-driven media placements will ride alongside content-driven buys. Clients will still demand familiar content alongside which they will get perceived brand value. As display and search continue to work for, rather than against, each other, audience buys will start to merge these two mechanisms for reaching consumers.
  • Media-driven creative is not here yet. Not surprisingly, these media execs agreed that the creative folks still drive the media decisions. That’s fine for TV, but for online media there is growing need to align the message with the medium in real time.

For online media to grow from pseudo-science to art and science, these topics must be pounded out. For a call on Agency Buying Platforms, stay tuned to research from Emily Riley and Michael Greene in August. From a marketers perspective, how do you feel about an automated media placement process? Are attractive CPMs a motivator, or should your media be handled with kid gloves?

Email me at, find me on Twitter @minicooper, or post a comment on this blog entry to let me know what issues you grapple with the most.