Paid Media Buying: 3 Key Trends to Take Away From the Digiday Summit

Media buying is a vital part of the marketing landscape and an area where rapid change is the norm. It’s an essential function for brands to reach their target audiences, so it’s important for buyers and marketers alike to stay on top of the trends shaping the industry. Below are three key takeaways from the Digiday Media Buying Summit that brands and agencies should keep top of mind:

1. Don’t Set It and Forget It

This is one of our favorite phrases at Pace, and the panelists at the Digiday Media Buying Summit agree. Simply put, media buyers shouldn’t rely on automated settings to do the work for them.

Technology has enabled us to use tools that put us in direct connection with the consumer, that are easy to use and powered by algorithms. The problem is that we all have the same tools and are using the same technologies—which means when left to run for themselves, buyers can’t gain a competitive advantage.

Beyond merely helping us beat out the next guy, platform recommended settings are not always better, and the black box scenarios can leave buyers (and their clients) missing out. Marketers who rely on automated settings are missing growth opportunities that can be discovered via human nuance.

Automation can help cut down on time, but the human element is what sets media buying apart. Platforms can steamroll brands, but humans keep their best interests in mind by looking at the granular details that matter instead of simply feeding the AI.

2. Good Creative Is the Most Powerful Optimizer

Media needs to come at the right cost, but it also needs to work. You can pit the same exact media buys against each other, but what will give one a competitive advantage over the other is creative. Creative is single-handedly the most important tool for media—it’s the biggest differentiator for brands and what works. As such, the brands that plan creative concepting alongside media plans reap the biggest rewards.

You can’t separate creative from media—the best outputs come from collaboration between these two distinct pieces of the marketing puzzle. Creatives need to know the insights to do their jobs better and create assets that drive conversion. “Performance creative” uses analytics to directly feed creative direction and asset output to create content that audiences respond to. With insights as the backbone, creatives can mold their imagination into content that inspires, engages and converts.

Buyers can have the best-laid media plans, but if the creative doesn’t speak to the audience, they won’t click. Ultimately, it’s the creative content that determines whether a media buy actually succeeds at making an impact. When these two sides of the puzzle work together, brands win.

3. Safety Matters

Programmatic buying has become the de facto method of social advertising for brands and, with that, places them squarely in the face of content landmines that litter the advertising landscape. In today’s world of fake news and the regular cadence of disturbing events, brand safety was arguably the hottest topic at the summit.

When media buying goes wrong and a brand is placed alongside inappropriate content, it can result in major damage to the brand’s reputation. Media buyers need to be hyperaware of the environments they are placing their clients in.

A new swath of tech, tools and controls that allow for third-party measurement are geared toward enabling buyers to make smart choices on behalf of the brands they represent. Likewise, buying ads through suppliers that have direct relationships with publishers allows for verification of the publisher’s inventory.

Advertising in premium environments can help ensure brand safety, but it comes with premium pricing too. For brands, safety is a priority—and most are embracing this new, more conscious buying approach.

The way we buy media will always be changing. It’s important to stay on top of the trends shaping the industry to best serve clients and the brands they represent.

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