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Vivaki Trades in its Trading Desk for Integrated Operations

February 19, 2015 | By Danielle Block, Director, Agency & Advertiser Relations - DCN

In a quiet announcement leading into President’s Day weekend Vivaki disclosed a restructuring of its Audience on Demand (AOD) trading desk. The agency reassigned 120 employees to individual Publicis agencies. Vivaki’s stated goal of the restructure to increase integration as well as to comply with the client request of eliminating the “black box” veil of the agency trading desk (ATD) model—but it is likely to cause other ripples of effect in the industry.

Here are some thoughts on what this announcement signals:

  • This announcement should, theoretically, move programmatic buying closer to individual agency client teams.
  • The restructure aligns with increasing marketer hesitation to leverage agency trading desks and marketers moving to setting up their own in-house trading desks or leveraging third parties outside of the agency and holding company network.
  • The move has the potential to improve communication within the agency team around inventory, targeting, effectiveness and efficiency.  It can also deepen integration and optimization across strategies and tactics.
  • This shift allows managing, leveraging, compiling and aggregating data to be done campaign-wide rather than siloed by the programmatic/ATD portion of the plan. It effectively breaks down silo of programmatic as a separate tactic.
  • The change brings talent in-agency to prepare for adoption of programmatic as a buying mechanism (programmatic direct, programmatic TV, programmatic premium, cross-screen, etc.).
  • It remains to be seen if client concerns such as inventory, fee and data usage transparency will improve.
  • Holding companies may follow suit or create different value propositions that help justify an increasingly outdated model.

Certainly, this move illuminates the fact that digital has permeated through every portion of media buying.  At first there were digital agencies and experts but when it stopped being a specialty they were no longer needed. As the Ad Age article on Vivaki’s move suggests, we’ve seen this gradual shift in Social Media marketing as well.  The timing of this announcement is interesting as we lead into the Upfronts and NewFronts. Though it seems likely that agencies will continue to ask that programmatic spend be incorporated to larger deals.

One thing is definitely clear: Agency trading desks must pivot to keep up with marketer demands around trust and transparency. It will be very interesting to see if and when other agency desks follow Vivaki’s lead.

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