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A confused businessman stares at a scribble design that is painted on a wall, representing confusion and complexity ?>
A confused businessman stares at a scribble design that is painted on a wall, representing confusion and complexity

Media Complexity in the Marketing Landscape

As a marketing professional, one way to impress a friend who doesn’t work in the space might be to have them look at any current LUMAscape.  

“Wait…there are that many categories, tools, and companies just for audio advertising?!” they might exclaim as they ponder the complexity of your chosen profession, followed quickly by: “Are you OK?”  

They wouldn’t be remiss in asking, given that more than half of marketers say they want to quit their jobs.  

Since its debut in 2010, the marketing technology LUMAscape has served as a symbol of both the innovation and the complexity that have come to characterize the digital media and marketing space. Lately, though, the Great Resignation has brought renewed attention to that complexity as a driver of decreased job satisfaction and professional commitment. Buried under mundane, repetitive tasks and an ever-increasing number of tools and point solutions, marketers are burning out fast. 

As if recruiting wasn’t enough of a problem on its own, complexity in digital marketing and media presents additional crises for brands, agencies, and publishers alike. Transparency, speed, and cost efficiency are all hindered by a rapidly expanding list of channels, formats, technologies, and solutions—all of which require new skill sets, guidelines, rules, and standards for marketers to learn. “Walking through mud” would be an apt analogy for how increases in complexity have impacted companies in the space. 

To solve these colliding dilemmas of staffing, transparency, speed, and cost-efficiency, the advertising industry must better understand their underlying causes. Read on to learn about the factors causing this complexity, and the solutions that are poised to usher in a better future for everyone working in the marketing space. 

The Causes of Media Complexity 

According to a recent Advertiser Perceptions report, the factors contributing to media complexity for advertising professionals include:

The reported causes fall into two main categories: disparate technologies (number of tools necessary to run a campaign, consumer technology, increase in number of media channels, increase in number of media transaction methods, etc.) and disparate data (inconsistent measurement tools, walled gardens, etc.)  

Disparate Technologies 

Marketers use an average of nine different platforms to run a typical campaign. That’s nine different sets of analytics, customer support teams, and pricing methodologies to manage! And, as more and more media buying professionals leave their jobs, it’s also nine different programs on which companies must train their replacements. Simultaneously, marketers engage an average of six media vendors for a typical campaign. 

Speaking of pricing methodologies, media buyers most frequently listed the “increase in number of media transaction methods” as a factor in media complexity. A single campaign often demands a variety of combined buying methods, a practice that hinders transparency and results in increased human error. 

The convoluted nature of the ad tech supply chain also creates opportunities for fraud. Ad operations professionals have long noted that “How hard it is to track down bad actors in the supply chain” is one of the biggest challenges in addressing issues with ad quality. Put simply, in addition to the time media complexity steals from media companies, it also creates opportunities for fraudsters to steal their dollars. 

Disparate Data 

All those different tools marketers use for their campaigns produce different sets of data, which are then organized by different sets of metrics. It’s not uncommon for marketers tapping into multiple advertising channels and vendors to have to stitch together precious campaign data from various separate Excel files. They’re then tasked with the near-impossible work of communicating progress to stakeholders and identifying holistic strategies based on their findings. 

Attempting work like manually unifying disparate data sources results in an average of six hours spent per week on low-value, repetitive tasks. According to a 2020 4As report on workflow automation, “Tricky and error-prone tasks such as tagging, taxonomy, naming conventions and invoice reconciliation are falling on the shoulders of non-specialists, spread across teams. This results in issues such as labelling inconsistencies that can exist even within the same team or organization.”

The same report found that agency media teams waste an average of three hours per day copying and pasting data from one program to the other. Frustrating tasks like these are primed for human error and practically ensure dissatisfaction among any team of highly skilled marketers. 

Even more, the need to consolidate marketing data goes far and beyond employee satisfaction—with the deprecation of third-party cookies on the horizon, quality consolidated analytics are all the more critical.  

Solving Media Complexity Through Automation 

Disparate technologies and disparate data have fostered a fragmented marketing landscape. The consequences of that fragmentation range from high rates of employee turnover to low-quality data, ad fraud, and valuable working hours lost each week. 

This complexity shows an urgent need to consolidate, streamline, and automate the media buying process—from planning, to buying, to optimization, reporting, and financial processes. Let’s take a look at some of the opportunities marketing and advertising organizations have to streamline processes within the landscape:  

  • Workflow automation enables media professionals to utilize one system for different tasks within their workflow, such as planning, negotiating, buying, reporting, analytics, optimizations, and billing.  
  • Reporting automation integrates accounts across channels like search, social, and programmatic, consolidating campaign data into and generating reports from one place.  
  • Billing automation integrates delivery reports and invoices from multiple sources, resulting in more accurate billings and easier financial reconciliations. 

Many industries—including finance, healthcare, and manufacturing—have already implemented broad automated processes to improve efficiency, while the marketing industry lags behind. In fact, global robotic process automation is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 32.8% from 2021 to 2028

Wrapping Up: Advertising Automation and Digital Media 

Automation offers a better future for our industry and, importantly, its people—one where media professionals can work out of a single platform instead of nine per campaign, where they can use a single analytics dashboard to pull insights and craft strategies based on trustworthy, consolidated data, and easily reconcile invoices from multiple sources to boot. With automation, brands and agencies can have the time and resources with which to craft campaigns driven by real-time insights gleaned from trustworthy data and defined by quality creative, at scale. 

To learn more about media complexity in the marketing landscape, check out Complexity, Job Satisfaction, and Automation in Digital Media

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