As the advertising industry continues to constantly evolve due to digitalization, customer demands, and new technological possibilities, there has been a steady rise in media buying activities over the past number of years. This has prompted an increased focus on the importance of data-driven advertising for brands and advertisers. With data-driven advertising helping to be more refined in your targeting efforts to reach the correct target audience, at the lowest possible cost, it is something that will play an important role in the future of the industry.

We spoke with Jonathon Millman, Founder and CEO of Shift CRM, an ADvendio integration partner, who are experienced in building customer Salesforce solutions for the media industry to maximize cloud investments and providing end-to-end transparency while growing revenue.

Jonathon Millman Media Expertise

With over a decade of media expertise, Jonathon has a wealth of knowledge. Having founded Shift CRM, in 2009, Jonathon has always been passionate about Salesforce’s suite of products as well as tailoring and strategically aligning businesses for a transformative effect. Shift CRM are award-winning Salesforce certified media experts who have been an SI partner in the Salesforce ecosystem for more than 13 years.

Over the past decade, Jonathon has continued to make Shift CRM’s goal to be the most innovative and passionate consultancy, partnering with clients such as VOX, American Media Inc, CBS, Discovery, Activision and Warner Media to name a few, to continue to surpass industry standards.

An Introduction to Media Buying

How would you define media buying?

Media buying is the practice of agencies or consumers directly purchasing different types of media to fulfill campaign obligations.

Media can be broken down into a number of different categories such as native, linear, out-of-home, print, and digital. All of these types of media are involved in fulfilling campaigns and media buying would typically be the practice of purchasing that media to fulfill specific campaign obligations.

What is the difference between media planning and media buying?

Media planning is the precursor to media buying and takes place in the early stages, before you execute the buy, Planning is when you are deciding the nature of your campaign or simply what media you want to purchase that you know you will be able to reach the target audience.

The planning aspect looks at the varying media types, so a media plan considers what category allocations I am going to choose at a high level, and may even go down to a granular level in which to establish buying a plan. For example, whether I should be buying this show, should I be in this part of the day, should I be in the first commercial spot or should we build an integration with this show, etc. These would be the planning components in which buyers would check to see if they can purchase that media so that the plan is not only what am I going to buy, but also questioning if it is going to hit my target audience and through this process, ensuring that I am buying the right media.

Therefore while media buying is more the execution of this plan, the planning aspect ensures that the media you are purchasing aligns with campaigns that you are running.

Life for Media Buying after COVID-19

How has COVID-19 affected media buying?

The industry is experiencing a number of different changes, first and foremost COVID-19 has changed who is buying media. Initially, when COVID-19 emerged, many brands began to start pulling back as nobody felt that they wanted to advertise their brand.

The second component of what was going on is that the categories highlighted above stopped purchasing as a result of COVID. It’s interesting and should also be noted that brand equity is starting to change in a different way. Many organizations who were typically advertising, who previously wanted to build their brand, pasta for example, are currently not advertising at all at the moment. It is now a staple and people are just going to buy it anyway, which is in contrast to other organizations, such as e-commerce brands, whose advertising might be continuing.

Therefore, the nature of who is buying is considerably different and it is becoming ever more important for advertisers to continue to manage the relationships with their clients who are likely to be pausing much of their media spend during this difficult time. In my opinion, we are really starting to see that shift in who is advertising during COVID-19 as well as those who are controlling and trying to maximize budgets or inventory yield because they likely have a lot more due to everybody hitting the pause button on their advertisements.

With advertising being paused, there has been a shift around who should even advertise, such as clothing stores, who are largely on pause. The nature of the advertising during COVID-19 is shifting, it has slowed down tremendously and it is starting to really define who spends in these new markets, with many people who are taking a “wait and see” approach to minimize any required contractual spend they may have to do.

What do you see as the current media buying challenges affecting advertisers & agencies?

In my opinion, two of the greatest challenges have become the following:

A) How do I maximize my yield and all of my cross-media inventory to ensure I am getting the most value but also ensure that publishers and advertisers have the right visibility at all levels.

Today we see a very siloed approach in the media industry on who can buy what media or how they interact with the organizations who purchase media. For example, the linear is selling linear, digital is selling digital and so on, but they are not selling everything integrated and therefore this results in a lack of visibility of what is going on and being able to combine all that data in a single cross-media platform is posing an obvious challenge.

B) Visibility becomes incredibly paramount, not only on a publisher side but that also transcends to the agency side. Where an agency is integrating with many publishers and they are trying to find out what is the right purchase for their client, the challenge arises of the integration of different media types and the ability to really see what is going on.

Therefore the holy grail of platforms of how everything is performing on a cross-media basis, simply just doesn’t exist today. It is currently an extremely fragmented approach of having to utilize and view many platforms and as we are currently unable to see what is going on with linear and digital inventory on a single platform. Therefore making it difficult to report and forecast B2B inventory or even forecast exchange-based inventory, frequently known as programmatic based inventory.

What do you see as the current key trends affecting advertising media buying?

One of the newest changes I am seeing in the industry is that audience numbers of content consumption are on the increase where most other markets are seeing a massive decrease.

Similarly, the biggest change in the industry today is that Netflix is currently now worth more than Disney – something which is huge for the industry! Indicating, where and how people consume their content is going to bring about the introduction of new and interesting products that are going to start coming to the market because the sheer volume of audiences is going to rise.

Certain platforms were in their infancy pre-COVID but as a result of this global pandemic, we are going to see an increased level and spike in maturity which is going to change how we interact with our audiences, the platforms in which we can use to connect audiences and ultimately the products we can buy to engage with audiences. Therefore, there will be a continual shift to a more modernized infrastructure for all of those companies who are going to have a heavier focus on digital. We should note that linear is also seeing a spike and that print is even going to see some level of a comeback.

As an industry, we are going to see a massive momentary pause and shift where some of the higher iron print properties are going to see a little bit more value overtime with consumption habits, and the lower ones will slowly start to fall away. I personally think we also see a transformation in both out-of-home and digital out-of-home simply because of the current situation. Life post-COVID will be very different, one where social distancing and staying at home will become the norm. Therefore I think from an OOH perspective, the industry will be heavily impacted and fundamentally going to have to change its approach moving forward.

Media Buying Industry Predictions

In your opinion, how do you see the current media buying processes changing over the next number of years?

I personally think that media processes are going to change by the establishment and development of new platforms that fill the gaps in the current market. In terms of structure, I think we may see a more conservative approach to media buying but overall I think it is going to be a change in the platforms that are going to become available for the various audience types. In my opinion, there is going to be a concept of what’s called “next best action” so that the recommendation components of machine learning and AI are really going to start to show their impact, not only by marrying up inventory, but also making recommendations at a sales level.

At the same time, we are going to see all those publishers have the ability to optimize their inventory, make sure they are delivering their campaigns, optimizing yield to serve their audiences the best possible campaigns, something that machine learning and AI will bring to the forefront. As we see today and from all my previous experience working with broadcasters across Canada, the United States, EMEA, and APAC, all these core markets have the same requirements and are all looking for a converged platform, something which is currently missing in the market.

Based on the trends highlighted, what are your predictions for media buying in the advertising industry?

One of my predictions for the industry is that when we look at all changes in new platforms and all the changes in media that are happening, we will see an overall shift in the types of media people buy, in the platforms they use and the way the data starts to come together with machine learning. What we are going to see in the short term is really going to affect media buying.

I also believe that the categories, the people buying media, and the volume of where media buying comes from is going to change in the short term and we will continue to see evolve over time.

Overall, I feel that the advertising industry is going to become more conservative and the messages we share are going to change to a point where we will see a lot more positivity in the messaging that is advertised and less of focused, product heavy advertisements. For example, thanking people for staying home and staying safe during these times is the type of messaging I think we will see more and more over the next 12-18 months while people are figuring out how to reconnect in a new way where advertising is more appreciative.

Where do you expect to see the industry heading in the next five years and how do you plan for Shift CRM to keep up?

For us, as we keep up with the evolving industry our focus is ensuring all of our clients leverage the platform and get the right solution within the Salesforce’s suite of products to really enhance their business.

What I see over the next few years for Shift is making sure that we are able to provide the best guidance and advice for our customers to put them on the right journey to maximize the value that they get from Salesforce while also ensuring from a business perspective they are getting the visibility and operational & automation processes to operate more effectively in a virtual world. Shift wants to make sure our customers are able to operate, connect and work effectively and efficiently even in a remote world and our goal is to continue to work very closely with our partners to provide that type of infrastructure and ecosystem. We recognize that this will be a journey and not an overnight project but we are prepared for this.

By leveraging our strong expertise and best practices that we have established from over a decade in the industry, Shift is going to work with our partners and work with the ecosystem to put them on a journey to ensure that in a systematic, cost-effective, value-driven way it will provide them with an effective return on investment for their clients.