Ad buying – once a largely stable market with minimal variation – is now anything but predictable. The constant push toward increasing digitization, evolving customer demands, and expanded technology has made the industry more dynamic than ever before. And, with the added unpredictability yielded by COVID-19, the future of the field is blurry indeed.

Evolutions in media buying are also at the forefront of how the ad sales industry is growing and changing. Companies such as P&G, Disney, Coca-Cola, Walmart, Nike, and Samsung are now starting to bring agencies and media-buying efforts in-house, fundamentally altering the approach to how media is bought and sold. When coupled with so many other shifts in the marketplace, from moving priorities to pandemics, planning for the future has never been so important.

The New Face of Media Buying

Media buying used to be a relatively straight-forward process, but that’s no longer the case. With the different methods available for making transactions, many varying players, and ever-changing practices, there’s more to know and more steps involved than ever before. As such, getting ahead means knowing where the industry stands as well as planning for where it may be in the months and years to come.

If you want to remain competitive in the market, we highlight six key things you need to know about the world of media buying.

Programmatic Advertising is the Future of Media Buying

The rise in programmatic advertising has skyrocketed over the last number of years, and it’s not stopping now. In all likelihood, most areas of media buying will be completely dominated by programmatic in the years to come.

If your business hasn’t truly embraced programmatic ad sales or is still relying primarily on outdated models, now’s the time to change. Programmatic placement can reduce the effort required in the sales process while improving outcomes, putting your ads in front of the right eyeballs in a convenient way that can generate great results.

Media Buying Optimization is Key

Even the best ad in the world will fall flat if it’s not sold with a strategy in mind. Optimized media buying means using the right parameters and ideal placements – failing to do this can cost big. Instead of using the same campaigns over and over, be sure your team is varying things like frequency, blocking domains, and bid sizes based on previous campaign results and most importantly your organization’s goals and objectives.

In a perfect world, many elements of this process may be automated when programmatic is in use, as programmatic algorithms are improving all of the time and are much quicker at refining ad performance when set up correctly, but that doesn’t mean keeping tabs on business needs and available options shouldn’t be a priority.

Brand Safety Should Be A Priority

Your advertising matters, but so does the content around it. Inadvertently running your ads on unsafe or questionable sites can do a number on brand reputation, as viewers will associate your name with unsavory subjects. Even if your campaign is otherwise effective, this kind of placement can cause big picture pain.

Brand safety is a brand’s exposure to inappropriate content and when media buying goes wrong, this can result in huge damage to your brand’s reputation. Instead of assuming your ads will run in the right spots, make use of whitelists and blacklists to avoid using agencies that will harm your brand with negligent placements.

Avoiding Advertising Fraud is Essential

Unfortunately, ad fraud in the media buying space is rampant.

Programmatic is a great tool that simplifies buying, but it does add an extra layer of confusion into the process. With programmatic, advertisers generally don’t know where their ads are running – and that means an open door for fraud.

However, tactics such as vetting resources, avoiding suspiciously low-cost options, and working with trusted resources can help you make advertising choices in your brand’s best interest. Just remember: what looks too good to be true can mean a world of hurt down the road.

Measurement Improvements Are Required

Prior to the recent rise in digital advertising resources, it was near impossible to track advertising metrics in any meaningful way. And even in the early days of digital, marketing methods varied radically from source to source and advertiser to advertiser. However, the field of analytics is evolving as well. Measurement options are on the rise, and it’s anticipated that interpreting media buying results will only become easier, as there is a growing shift in measurement and it is expected that market trends are pointing toward exchange systems that use the same stable cross-currency metrics.

Media Buying Will Be Controlled In-House

Historically, media buying has relied on the influence of outside agencies, but even this industry staple is changing. The development of in-house media buying agencies is among the largest current transformations in the industry, and for good reason. The elimination of the role of traditional agencies offers more control over budgets, increases the involvement of internal resources, and reduces the mystery in advertiser-platform negotiations. This trend is limited to many of the biggest names for now, like Nike and AT&T, and there are certainly some hurdles in the process, but the popularity of this evolution is only going to grow.

While there’s no way to be sure about what the future holds, keeping an eye on trends is an excellent way to plan ahead. From the development of in-house agencies to the continued growth of programmatic, keeping your finger on the pulse can help you do your part in keeping a leg up on the competition.