Notes from the Field: Pittsburgh Media Association Breakfast and Programmatic Ad Buying


The real competition for media sales people is programmatic – or is it?


This morning Angela Potts, Senior Director of Business Development at The Trade Desk, presented the “Past, Present and Future” of programmatic advertising. Hosted by the Media Association of Pittsburgh (MAP), attendees were eager to raise their awareness of this growing technology.  Potts has a well of experience to draw from – The Trade Desk is a DSP, a Demand Side Platform, used by agencies to buy digital media ads and track user behavior. According to AdExchanger, they are one of the fastest growing DSPs in the market, specializing in video and display media.

“I see a future where all advertisement will be sold programmatically.”

Angela Potts, Sr. Director, Business Development, The Trade Desk


The advertising world is going through massive changes and the time is ripe for bold predictions. The MAP breakfast audience was largely comprised of people from ad-agencies and local media sales: two groups of people with common interests, but slightly different priorities, and certainly different attitudes towards programmatic ad-buying platforms. On one hand, agencies are getting excited about the empowerment that real-time direct ad buying through a programmatic platform gives them. Yet on the other, media salespeople are seeing the possibility that their role will slowly or rapidly (depending on who is asked) become obsolete, since media ad tech automates the buying and selling process. Skepticism and careful consideration reign over the audience.


The Trade Desk is operating from the assumption that in the very near future everything (all media types and inventory) will be sold programmatically. They are arguing in favor of an open free market that cuts out the middle man and is more responsive to supply and demand. There is no doubt that programmatic ad-buying is here to stay. Its advantages and efficiencies are too great for the market not to adopt it, but the change might not be as sweeping as predicted.


This was an informative breakfast talk, yet it remains unclear why the TV industry should be interested in selling their prime ad-inventory through a real time trade platform, when the upfront demand is still bringing in most of the bucks. Why should big national brands who care about hitting the most eyeballs go through the hoops of real-time bidding when all they want is a great ad at the Superbowl that gives them huge coverage and builds their brand like no other ad?


On the other side – what about the small local businesses that are bringing in the majority of the revenue for local media outlets? Will they really start working with big agencies? Agencies, who have the bucks and the tech to get the data needed to best reach a target? Or will they rely on the data they get from their local media sales person to make an informed decision?


As programmatic technology matures, the advertising industry will see changes: some positions will dissolve, some will evolve and others will be brand new. But, as we can tell you first hand, the introduction of technology doesn’t eliminate the need for people, it accentuates it.


MAP has more exciting programmatic events coming up in March and May. Join the conversation: learn more about MAP’s future programming by checking out their website, Twitter and Facebook.