Over the millennia humanity has always sought out ways to make life easier/faster/cheaper, particularly when it comes to commerce. Whether it was the invention of the wheel in the stone age or the Spinning Jenny in the 18th century, both were created, and the technology ever iterated in order make products and get them to market faster – this is simply technological evolution. 

Roll forward 250+ years from James Hargreaves’ kick-starting the industrial revolution, and we see this trend continue all around us. From smart robots that can walk and balance themselves to electric cars that can drive themselves. Technology’s journey has been towards reducing the need of a human mind or body. It should be of no surprise to anybody that advertising has followed the same trajectory, and that not only is advertising now able to be delivered digitally across a myriad of devices, the space can also be bought and sold in real time based on a plethora of options.

Society and the advertising industry aren’t going to slow this automation, from automation of buying to automation of content creation. Since the advent of automated buying, content creators have been able to easily monetise their work with very little fuss, and with knowledge that they are maximising their revenues. However, even content creators need to be aware that AI and automation may start creeping into their very area of expertise.

We are not going back to the days of paper and faxes (although I do sorely miss the excitement of hearing the fax machine come to life when I knew we had a big IO waiting to come back signed). We know that the whole UX for the digital ad system needs to improve – we need to make it easier for traders to buy, we need make it easier for publishers to integrate and evaluate demand partners, and we need to make reconciliation faster and easier to speed up payments throughout the chain. Ultimately, we want to be able to create the largest industry we can, and as other technology improves, allow for automation for media buying and selling across any media estate simple, faster, and cheaper. This will happen partly in result of technology advancing, and partly through consolidation of organisations in the landscape coming together to join pipes.

Programmatic media buying is not a channel, it’s a method. It allows for media to be purchased through an interface with speed and efficiency. The data layers that may go on top are just the icing on the cake. It’s not just a fire and forget yet, as humans still need to keep an eye on campaign performance and delivery, but with the constant pace at which AI and ML are progressing, one day it might be. This allows for scale which is basically the purpose of automation – can we deliver more to a greater number of end users, yet allow them to work with more precision than ever to deliver their end goals?

According to, more than 90% of the most successful digital marketers note that automation is a key to their success, and 77% of CMOs say they implement automation as a way to drive up revenues.

Automation is a funny thing, it feels like eons coming, and then all of a sudden, it’s upon us.

Written by Jon Walsh, SVP Strategy Europe at ENGINE Media Exchange.

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