After a successful roundtable event in North America, CloudSense hosted a follow up media roundtable event in the Asia-Pacific region, with attendees from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and more. The speakers had excellent media credentials: David Rowley, Senior director of data and identity product platforms, products, and platforms at NewsCorp USA, and Carolina Fernandez, Platform solutions consultant for AdForm, and former Director for customer success and Ad Operations at Advanced Local/Condé Nast. Below, we’ve put together highlights from the event.
In today’s dynamic and competitive business environment, media organizations have struggled to maintain their position as trusted news and information champions. But with steady audiences a key profit driver, revenue growth now requires innovation and product diversification, while cost containment requires consolidation, staff reduction and tech solutions at all levels of operation.
This has led to a host of challenges pertaining to productivity. Employee productivity is at the heart of any operation affecting both top line growth, as well as being one of the top three expense lines of any media company. As demand returns, employees across organizations need to elevate their responsibilities, improve their process and workflow efficiency to reach a new level of operational excellence.
Cue automation, outsourcing and self-serve capabilities…
There is so much room for automation within an organization, and is especially helpful with certain transitions, such as print to digital. But what you automate - and how you automate it - will depend on whether it's a growing channel for your business or not.
Automation is already in widespread use: low-tier campaigns can be put on autopilot, direct sales and DSP campaigns can be mechanized, and screenshots of live ad campaigns can be done by robot, as well as to validate dates, impressions goals and budgets, all of which save significant time and money.
When considering automation of operations, it is important to understand your product portfolio and the revenue it brings in, as well as the technology that can be implemented. For example, AI is already being used by some businesses for creative swaps, or using an RPA script to funnel templates from multiple agencies directly through an OMS and on to an ad server.
But with regards to revenue opportunities, programmatic is the ideal place for automation to thrive. Defined by fairly manual processes, programmatic is a large part of many media organizations. Automating this key process leaves room for greater efficiency and cost savings.
Like with anything else, automation comes with risks. While the use of automation streamlines manual, tedious processes, it also puts quality into question. At times, human involvement is necessary to assure quality.
And that raises the question that always comes up with automation: what about my existing employees?
It’s extremely important for employees to understand what needs to be automated and their role after certain processes are automated. Done well, automation brings value to employees, especially to those who understand their work and see an opportunity for career growth. You need to create a path for them not only because of the cost savings, but also because it helps your team feel important.
Something that isn’t always taken into consideration is the need for communication in any automation plan. It is important to ensure that all departments are involved from the very start of automation, and that there is a clear understanding of what the automation process will look like. Whether its accounting, sales, tech or ad ops, it is critical to make sure that the right people are at the table to develop the automation process.
Operationally, media companies need to ensure that they are profitable. If revenue isn't going up, then costs need to go down.
This is where outsourcing comes into play. Outsourcing can access expertise without having to go out and hire new people, and the ability to get value more affordably without impacting the quality of work is attractive.
But lay the groundwork properly. Make sure you get references, understand where the team is based, the support hours and pricing structure. Once you have selected a company to work with, make sure you determine a point of contact from your in-house team that you trust and to dedicate to managing the new team.
Develop clear rules of engagement if the outsource company is reaching out to clients directly. Create a script of what you want them to relay to clients, and delineate specific scenarios as to when to reach out for help.
Staff turnover will always be a problem, and organizations need to determine what they are going to outsource and what makes sense for their operations. When looking at upscaling versus outsourcing, it is important to ensure that your in-house employees are able to do the things that are genuine game changers for your operations.
For campaigns that just need to be rebooked, outsourcing is the perfect solution. The more complicated the campaigns - such as a native or audience extension campaign - require more experience, more seniority and should be kept in house.
Although much more common today, self-serve was not always a “if you build it, they will come” kind of situation. Initially either the capabilities were not advanced enough, or the audience response wasn’t there.
But the rapidly evolving needs of today’s digital-first customer, along with some help from Facebook’s popular self-serve capabilities, have paved the way for self-serve, making it into a behavior that users are now used to.
Today, it seems almost impossible for an organization to not have some sort of self-serve commitment within the organization for processing campaigns and for selling products.
Small businesses and local newspapers can now figure out their target audience and geography, and set up campaigns in minutes.
But once again, like with automation, self-serve can instill a fear among your sales team that robots are coming to take their jobs. When introducing a self-serve channel, it is important to communicate that you are intending the self-serve tool to only focus on a certain tier of advertiser. Keep your sales reps focussed on a much higher spend type of business.