Media buying: global trends you need to know about

[box]The Media Report 2014 feature by Oresti Patricios (@orestaki) was published first on, the website of Herman Manson, SA’s leading commentator on marketing and advertising.[/box]

markliveslogoImagine being able to buy media at a click of a button — the same way you’d buy some airtime online or be able to purchase an airline ticket. The news is that you can now do this, and it’s the hottest media buying trend across the globe.

Other big trends are the media buying war between television and the social media giants, and digital’s dark night of the soul. Then there’s the problem of the erosion of trust between brand owners and media buying agencies. Let’s go through the world’s biggest media buying trends, one by one.

media report: media trends graphic

  1. Media buying + technology + automation = programmatic buying

The biggest buzzword across the globe – and the hottest media buying trend – is of course what’s called programmatic media buying. This is the buying and selling of media automatically, with real time bidding. Think of it as media buying meets eBay. Programmatic buying is currently limited to digital media buying, and it enables advertising to be bought in real time, in the same way that the disintermediation of the travel industry enabled hotel rooms or airline tickets to be bought directly, immediately and automatically.

Because the ‘middle man’ has been cut out of the equation and the transaction is done from machine to machine, it means the buying is more efficient and advertising costs have been reduced. The benefit of programmatic media buying is that it enables extreme targeting, and that advertising agencies can focus on media creative instead of media buying. The automation also means the opportunity for fraud or error is reduced.

  1. The big money’s still in TV. But Facebook, Google & Twitter want a piece of that pie.

tvoldstyleTelevision is still enjoying the largest share of media investment. PriceWaterhouseCoopers’ Global Entertainment and Media Outlook for 2014 to 2018 shows that: “Despite the growth of digital media, TV advertising remains the place to be.” The PwC report states: “Global TV advertising revenue is successfully responding to the rise of newer forms of digital media. Global TV advertising revenue will grow at a CAGR of 5.5% over the next five years, confirming TV as the ‘place to be’ for advertisers looking to reach big audiences.”

But Facebook, Google and Twitter are eyeing those massive television advertising revenues with some degree of envy – they want in. All of these massive social media monoliths have established themselves in the world of advertising, and are looking to start doing deals that break into the hundreds of millions of dollars. YouTube recently turned to Nielsen for help with audience measurement – Nielsen, of course, is the self-same research company that measures US TV audiences.

Business Insider reports that “Facebook has gone to war against TV”. The superpower of a social network that Mark Zuckerberg built claims it has better audience and better measurement than US TV. Facebook is “hoping to eventually transfer the hundreds of millions of dollars currently being wasted on non-measurable TV commercials and funnel them into Facebook ads, where marketers can see instantly how well they perform,” Business Insider reports.

  1. Internet advertising faces the long, dark night of the soul

Digital marketing has always been the young upstart in the media mix, but of late there’s been a bit of a reboot in the way media buyers and brands are thinking about the medium. This thinking is summed up in a seminal article by the senior editor of The Atlantic, Derek Thompson. Entitled “A Dangerous Question: Does Internet Advertising Work at All?” the article states that the technology that underpinned the internet was supposed to tell brand owners and media publishers which ads work and which ads don’t. “But instead it’s flooded consumers’ brains with reviews, comments, and other digital data that has diluted the power of advertising altogether,” Thompson claims. What comes next is an examination of the efficacy of digital data, plus greater interrogation about how digital works with traditional media. Now that’s where the magic really lives.

  1. Content marketing fuels media buying.

socialmediaiconsContent remains king for brands that are generating Instagram adverts, Tweets, Facebook posts, YouTube video adverts as well as blogs, email newsletters and more. But the days of content being a novelty are long, long gone. The tsunami of content being created means that it is very easy for brand content (regardless of how good it is) to get lost. That’s why media buying now plays a strong role in content marketing because brands have realised that it is one thing to create a video, but getting people to watch it online is another thing all together.

  1. Mobile is the alpha and omega of media buying

Television might be winning the lion’s share of the marketing dollar, but when it comes to ubiquity nothing wins like mobile. Cellular phones are everywhere, and everyone has one. The reach and penetration of mobile phones make it the most pervasive marketing platform in the world, which is why marketers will have to take a mobile-first approach to marketing if they want to incorporate this mass medium into their mix.

  1. Transparency the biggest media agency concern for brands

The relationship between brands and media buyers is being bedevilled by a lack of trust. A survey by the US Association of National Advertisers and Forrester Research showed that nearly half of the advertisers surveyed in a study cited concerns with the level of transparency between them and their media buying agency. More so, 42% of advertisers polled in the research report called The ANA/Forrester Survey of the Evolution of the Media Buying Industry, said these trust-related concerns were on the rise.

The research showed that the biggest problems that advertisers had with media buying agencies was served versus viewable impressions for digital media. Brands also complained about digital ad placement including frequency caps, inappropriate content, share of voice, above-the-fold placement of adverts. The other issue that troubled advertisers was the lack of visibility into data used to define audience targeting.

the media report: independence graphicABOUT THE AUTHOR: Oresti Patricios (@orestaki) is the CEO of Ornico, a Brand Intelligence® firm that focuses on media, reputation and brand research.

This feature first ran in The Media Report 2014, which is published by Ornico with as its official media partner. Read or download the full magazine via Issuu.

Visuals used are licensed through Creative Commons. Attribution and gratitude go to: Reporters Without Borders and the Give Dictators The Finger campaign; r2hox, who documents urban and street art; Rebel Mouse Digital artist, Surian Soosay; Khalid Albaih, founder of; Nicolas Raymond, print buyer, and photographer, Karen Roe; photographer SandisterTei; and author, scientist and occasional photographer, Duncan Hull.

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