Trading platforms need to align and unite

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MCN’s Homefronta’ presentations through November and December have been about unifying screens, audiences, data and content for 2016. But the industry at large will need to urgently unify disparate and competing trading platforms for the next round of benefits to be realised for brand owners.

The CEO of one of Australia’s biggest media agency groups whispered in frustration last week that he’s had to hire dozens of new people just to manage an array of new trading and data platforms from tech vendors and media owners – on top of the tech stack and alliances his own company has already struck.

It’s clear and positive evidence the industry is embracing automation, algorithms and analytics platforms at pace, even if some media tech stacks are more meaningful than others when you lift the hood. Overall though, the trend is a good one.

But automated trading is already throwing up a new wave of unexpected challenges to unravel.

Market frustration will rise markedly over the next 12 to 18 months as agencies, with their own preferred technology and platform partnerships, try to transact with media owners and ‘walled garden’ global audience platforms. All have competing trading and data management platforms and preferred supplier alliances and as an industry we will quickly need solutions to manage “trading fragmentation”.

You need to be either fully agnostic in terms of who you use, which works for some and not all, or as an industry we need to push for greater alignment. Two scenarios will play out. Either another round of mergers and acquisitions in the ad tech sector will further consolidate the platform options from media owners or a new round of tech innovation will enable these disparate systems to plug into each other and help reduce the trading friction that is on the rise.

In the TV sector there is a very important trend to note. Globally, most of the trading and audience targeting systems that broadcasters are launching are typically restricted to online or IP-based delivery. At MCN, we made the daunting decision to fix linear TV trading first with our Landmark system, where more than 90% of advertiser spending still goes With Landmark now six months into its linear TV deployment, we’re expanding the same capabilities across the rest of our assets to unify television across all screens.

It might sound nuanced but MCN’s approach is profoundly different to what many broadcasters around the world are doing, we’ve addressed linear TV first.
For most broadcasters it’s the polar opposite because automated trading and audience segmentation aligned to spot placements in linear is incredibly difficult.
MCN has seen rapid market take-up of dynamic and programmatic trading – we’re now at 40% of our total volumes and expect to reach 60% next year. But there are speed bumps that the industry, including MCN, must navigate together if we’re to keep trading friction in its box.