Our Terms of Use & Cookie Policy

StackAdapt uses cookies to improve your online experience. Cookies are used to help us better understand where our visitors are coming from, recognize you when you sign in to the platform, or better personalize pages you visit. Cookies are placed on your computer automatically but if you chose to opt out from any tracking, you can change your cookie settings through your browser.


7 Traits of a Sophisticated Digital Media Buyer

Let’s face it, digital media buying is going through some… growing pains. Programmatic advertising is in full swing, yet there are many digital marketers getting left behind—not because their organization or agency hasn’t embraced programmatic technology, but because the mindset of many leaders hasn’t caught up with the technology that has been introduced. As dissatisfaction with ad tech abounds, a new breed of digital media buyer is slowly but surely emerging. What do these programmatic powerhouses have in common?

1. Early Adopter

New technologies, companies and platforms are disrupting entire industries on an almost daily basis. Early adopters welcome change in every sector; they’re able to see the technological connections that weave our modern world together. A sophisticated buyer doesn’t treat programmatic as simply a line item on a media plan: According to CMO Joanna O’Connell, “Programmatic is a completely different way of buying media, and then, ultimately, a different way of behaving as marketers… If you have it as a line item on a plan, you are inherently undervaluing all of the things that are enabled through technologically driven, data driven buying and optimization”. Early adopters take full advantage of modern technology by not only adopting the program, but also the new strategies and behaviours that go along with said adoption. True technophiles tend to be the ones who not only implement new technologies, but integrate them across organizations rather than siloing them off.

2. Considers Bringing Programmatic Buying In-House

Given the complex relationship between media buyers and trading desks, many buyers have considered (or at least fantasized about) moving to an in-house bidding model. That being said, the term “in-house” means different things to different organizations: Enterprise clients tend to develop full-scale, self-serve trading desks and even develop proprietary technology. Smaller clients, on the other hand, are known to use a hybrid strategy where they utilize either their own data management platform (DMP) or transparent 3rd-party data while outsourcing campaign management to a programmatic partner. The main benefit of this approach? Time. With no middle-man, you can do things faster and with full control. For a sophisticated media buyer, programmatic campaigns are just a click away.

3. Demands Performance

A smart marketer is always looking to turn a $1 investment into a $2 return. Smart marketers also know that it isn’t always so cut and dry. While some industries are thriving in the current performance landscape (i.e. apps are winning big on a pay-per-install basis), other, less direct, industries are still searching for trackable ROI. A savvy media buyer understands the importance of creating a specific, measurable goal based on the type of campaign she/he has decided to run and judges performance based on that goal alone. The success of an engagement oriented campaign, for example, will look very different from that of a conversion campaign. The key is to quantify your desired outcome and be honest about the results.

4. Demands Data Transparency

In a speech called “A Brief History of AdTech Time” Jon Hsu of AppNexus pointed out, “Even back in the crazy euphoria, Wall Street valued [ad tech] companies that had full platforms and data at a higher multiple than those they considered more media oriented.”. The point here is that 1st-party data and close 3rd-party data with 100% transparency has always meant more than the ad placements alone. Savvy media buyers grasp the importance of understanding every single interaction in their digital ecosystem. Every interaction is a data point and top platforms provide transparency from start to finish.

5. Demands Intelligence

Building off our previous point, savvy digital media buyers are looking for intelligence everywhere they turn, which is simply another way of saying they are continuously searching for ways to improve. Rather than ticking the same boxes year after year, the modern media buyer scrutinizes the data from her/his latest campaign and turns those insights into actionable learnings.

6. Demands Precise Targeting

According to Machine Zone’s CEO Gabe Leydon, “Buyers don’t have the proper insights… They’re tired of fraud, some of the largest networks in the world… you can’t even get country data from them.”. A savvy media buyer understands the sheer power of precise targeting options: geographic, contextual & behavioural, device targeting, language targeting, retargeting & conversion tracking, and optimization based on business goals.

7. Bonus: Thinks Like a Data Scientist

The output of any and all intelligence is directly determined by the quality and size of the input. As humans, our inputs (and therefore outputs) are necessarily limited in scope. We might split test headlines, for example, or A/B test a handful of images. But what if we could learn from historical data without the limits of manual learning? Using a mix of mathematics and technology, data scientists are on the cutting edge of optimization strategies that go beyond human perception. Thanks to formulas and technologies currently in the making, tomorrow’s savvy media buyers will learn from data in a whole new way.

You may also like: