Photo: LUMA Partners
If you’ve attended a digital conference in the last year it’s likely that you have seen the Luma slide at least once and many of us have seen it dozens of times.This visual representation of the crowded and complex digital advertising landscape has caused constant chatter about the marketplace. Many feel that it’s nearly impossible to plan and buy media given the myriad of options available to marketers; that the ever-increasing number of new technologies promising to make campaign delivery easier, only serve to make the whole ecosystem more fractured and complex.
It is no wonder that the sales people who work for networks and exchanges are getting the highest scores intelligence, knowledge and innovation, from agencies planners and buyers. These people are closer to the technology and, in many cases, are with the companies driving innovation. While publishers are usually the first to be asked to fund these innovations, they are often the last to fully understand the new capabilities and to take advantage of the innovations to drive their business forward.
So, how did we allow this complexity to overtake us? Partly it is due to the big media companies resting on their laurels. But I think, more likely, that VCs saw an opportunity to fund start-ups focused on small components or features of the ad technology stack that could quickly be flipped for cash. Because of the massive liquidity events of the tech bubble and all the recent millionaires (thanks Google, Aquantive, Right Media, etc.), there are plenty of angel investors and cash-flush folks who are willing AND able to take a risk to start a new business where the ultimate goal is cashing out again.
If you break down the Luma slide and look at each of the components individually, you will find that many of them are redundant. If the agency and seller were more closely aligned in servicing the advertiser, many of these components would not be needed at all. We’ve created acronym soup from DSP to DMP, SEM to SMO, UGC to URL, CPC to CTR, and CRM to CPM. Making matters worse, we then introduced multiple vendors into the process, many of which only further separate the channels of online advertising. Adding more fragmentation to the ad technology stack seemed like a great idea to spur innovation and move the industry forward, but I fear that we have done ourselves a grave disservice. We’ve taken an already tech heavy conversation and exponentially made it more difficult for people to understand. Buyers don’t need any more acronyms beyond RFP, CPM and ROI.
What would our days look like with fewer vendors, more intelligent questions about client goals and objectives that focus on good old fashion media discussions between buyer and seller?
The views expressed here reflect the views of the author alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of 24/7 Media, its affiliates, subsidiaries or its parent company, WPP plc.
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