Why Automation is Still Media's Most Valuable Asset

It’s been a whirlwind year for TV.

When the pandemic hit this spring, it was clear media was facing a wild ride. Advertisers tightened their budgets, and homebound viewers began a weeks-long TV binge with little else to occupy their time. Sports left the stage, danced with the idea of returning, and finally surged back all at once—with mixed results. Then this fall’s political TV dominance both upset rates and drove record viewership of the debates. And only weeks ago, P&G challenged networks to reform the traditional upfront marketplace. Meanwhile, the ongoing streaming wars continue to grow more competitive. Between the launch of HBO Max and NBC’s Peacock, answering the question of who’s watching what is far from simple.

Sifting through such a mess may as well be rocket science.

But just because media is only recently hogging the headlines, it’s far from newly complex. This spring merely brought the long-existing media mess to the forefront of the industry’s attention. Finding the best rates was suddenly more essential than ever for advertisers looking to stay on air through the early days of the pandemic.

For those that maintained their advertising, there is good news. Worldwide, media rates declined 0.9% in 2020, and the U.S. saw an even more dramatic drop of 3.4%. These shifts were most prominent among traditional media like print, radio and, of course, TV.

The opportunity was, and still is, undeniable. Lower rates mean greater efficiencies. Greater efficiencies mean higher ROI. But how do you ensure your brand maximizes that opportunity? When media is so darn complicated, is it really humanly possible to consistently find premium programming for the best prices? To keep up with every trend?

Definitely not. Just because media buying might as well be rocket science doesn’t mean media buyers should have to be rocket scientists. Not when there’s tech for that.

With automation and artificial intelligence, you can find the rate floor, more accurately forecast spend and performance, and significantly reduce valuable time and effort. The results are clear. Relying on automation this spring, our clients achieved 42% savings in year-over-year rates, a far more drastic drop than the U.S. media average decline of 3.4%. And even as rates fell, clearance on premium dayparts and top networks increased. This savings was especially important during a time when businesses were beginning to feel the pinch of a restricted economy and the media market was changing in entirely new ways.

CPMs over 2019 and 2020

As rates settle into a new normal, tech ensures you don’t miss the slightest shifts. If this year has proven anything, it’s that change is frequent—and an automated process is best equipped to analyze and react to each up and down, long before a human could. Nearing the start of 2021, there’s still plenty of uncertainty to go around. We can’t guarantee what the pandemic, economy, or advertising trends will look like in six months or a year. But we can know we’ll still find premium programming for the best prices.

The TV industry’s hold on tradition is loosening, and hopefully, the media buying process will eventually modernize. But until then, automation is more important than ever. Allowing technology to do what it does best simply means agencies and advertisers alike have a little less to worry about. That’s something we could all use this year.

 

Learn how our custom AI-driven media buying platform Annika sifts through media clutter.