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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

Technology moves fast. Automation helps publishers keep up

March 22, 2023 | By Jay Kulkarni, CEO – Theorem Inc. @theoreminc

Technology is an essential tool for enabling efficiency in today’s fast-paced media landscape. This is especially true of new media platforms—including retail media networks, connected TV (CTV), and streaming services—whose rapid growth has left publishers with little time to reevaluate and optimize their ad monetization processes. Most of these platforms are utilizing legacy ad ops processes as a result, the majority of which are highly manual and not suited for the pace of digital media.

The consequences of this trend have led to mounting challenges for publishers, including delivery delays, higher error rates, increased makegoods, and slower revenue recognition processes. To eliminate these inefficiencies and enable growth at scale, publishers must leverage automation. If your business struggles to keep pace with the rapid evolution of new media and ad revenue models, here’s how automation can help you streamline your manual workflows and future-proof your ad ops processes.

Out with the old, in with the new

The ad ops processes that have worked for long-standing, traditional publishers cannot meet the needs of today’s modern digital media players. They need to be run continuously to keep up with rapidly evolving ad revenue models, which is challenging because they employ time-consuming manual processes such as audience targeting and data analysis.

Unfortunately, many media players continue to adopt these legacy workflows because they have been the norm for so long and are the path of least resistance. But this is simply not sustainable. The demand for targeted audience reach, coupled with the speed at which these platforms are growing, means that workflow inefficiencies will only increase. At the same time, ad ops teams are put at a major disadvantage because they typically work on parallel campaigns across multiple platforms and ad servers. This creates siloed and fragmented data and makes tracking and analyzing campaign metrics extremely difficult.

Automating manual processes is the key to eliminating workflow inefficiencies and increasing productivity. It’s also essential for enabling career growth and professional development. When ad ops teams use automation to relieve members of repetitive and menial tasks such as data entry and reporting, they can turn their attention to the higher-value jobs that require strategic thought and therefore can only be carried out by human beings. Rather than seeing automation as a threat to job security, it can be viewed as a tool for skill expansion and professional growth.

Using automation to support the foundational needs of media companies

The benefits that both new media and traditional publishers can gain from automation are plentiful and help support three foundational needs:

  • Unity. Automation can integrate internal platforms, improve communication between teams, eliminate data silos, and enhance data visibility.
  • Performance. Automation can streamline manual tasks to reduce errors, makegoods, and delivery delays. It can also boost campaign performance and improve client satisfaction by allowing campaigns to be optimized in flight.
  • Guidance. Automation can be used to develop user-friendly systems that improve internal knowledgeability, as well as create platforms that notify teams of potential errors so they can troubleshoot before mistakes occur.

Automation also helps increase profits by allowing teams to focus on revenue-boosting activities like business growth strategy and client management. It frees them up to run more campaigns, which is a win-win for everyone: Advertisers appreciate the maximized brand exposure, and publishers benefit from the incremental revenue. Finally, automating order-to-cash processes allows for quicker invoicing, which means faster revenue recognition and more cash to reinvest into new business initiatives.

The time to automate is now

While the current economy has forced all industries to do more with less, efficiency has always been a necessity for publishers. Now that advertising has become a key revenue model for new media players, it’s essential for them to leverage technology to enable productivity and scale. The time to automate is now, as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation tech become more accessible and affordable. Publishers — especially new media players like retail media networks and CTV companies — must take advantage of this time to implement automation or risk getting left in the dust.

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