We know as digital marketers that the landscape has evolved to a complex world of options. "Back in the day" of digital advertising you could spend your money with Google for search and the rest went to the portals (AOL, MSN, Yahoo). Now we live in a world where Google still has a large market share, but the rest has shifted to social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and even Amazon has built a very large digital advertising business. So what does this all mean? For me it means the rise of a new level of skills becoming the expectation. In my opinion we are evolving away from paid search and display specialists and into paid media specialists. There are three reasons why I believe this to be true.
1. Media Mix
One of the major challenges with all these fragmented publishers where you could spend your advertising dollars is how to allocate your spend. What platform is the most effective given your business challenges for that next incremental dollar? When that question is asked to a paid search manager their answer will most likely be into more keywords and for a display person it’s more display. In my opinion, the only real way you get a true answer is to have a person who is responsible and knowledgeable in all aspects of paid media. Then their job becomes much less about protecting their tactic and more about doing what’s right. The old adage "When you have a hammer everything looks like a nail" is what you experience when you ask that question to a team member who is focused on a specific tactic.
2. The Rise of Paid Social
Facebook is now making $2.5 billion a quarter in ad revenue and Twitter just delivered 124 percent growth in revenue to $312 million. Just a few years ago Facebook and Twitter made ZERO dollars. Where are the ad dollars coming from? What types of skill sets are needed to run this type of media? These dollars are coming from both digital and traditional ad budgets, and the people running them need both display and search skills, or PAID MEDIA. Twitter and Facebook ads are very native to the platform and bought on an effectiveness model. These elements sound a lot like how search operates.
3. Real-Time and Programmatic Buying
Display media is largely moving away from traditional fixed CPM ad buys. The days of RFP’ing multiple publishers and researching sites that index high for a given target are gone or going quickly. The market has shifted to be increasingly based on programmatic buys, which have a large real-time bidding component. So in order to be effective in this space you need the skills of display to determine the right audience, creative, and copy to run in combination with the skills of an experience bid manager. You got it…paid media.
A question I get a lot when discussing these points and the future of this role is the tradeoffs that are required. For example, "If I know more about all of paid media, how can I be the deep expert that I am today on display?" That is a fair question and I do think the balance between an inch wide and a mile deep will swing. However, the knowledge of a broader paid media landscape will far outweigh the value of that depth once proper media allocations are made. Strategically sound can also equate to advantages in addition to tactical advantages. I look forward to the future of paid media.