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The ad buyer’s dilemma

Opinion

The ad buyer’s dilemma

By Hussam Al Haje, digital supervisor, J3 MENA

Everyone has those first-job misconceptions. You’re young, fresh out of college and the delusions of grandeur that you’ll be a CEO in no time are swirling in your mind. With a business degree, you are now a media executive in a top agency in Dubai; nothing can stand in your way. You have mastered the theories of marketing, wrestled with the SWOT analysis minotaur, outwitted the twin gorgons of LIFO and FIFO, and you have made it. Suiting up on your first day, you walk into the office with poise, confidence and the slightest first-day jitters. You declare your presence to the receptionist and follow him/her to your assigned desk. This is your moment; everyone will remember it.

You pause

Jeans, t-shirts and a rainbow of Converse sneakers part as you cut a swath through the endless rows of cubicles and fellow employees. Where are the pinstriped suits and the Mad Men-esque air of superiority?

After that initial shock that everyone around you was just “normal”, you delve into a dreamlike state where everything you learned in college seems useless and irrelevant. Words such as impressions, CTR, AdWords and the ever-daunting “programmatic” dance around you at a dizzying rate. As a daily Googler and YouTube viewer, you thought you knew what digital media was all about; how mistaken you were.

A few months in and you feel like a pro already. You boast to your muggle “non-media” friends how you can retarget them on YouTube and follow them across the web; your Google Search Ads have the lowest CPC of all time and your VTR is through the roof. Data is now your mistress and you rule the Internet with an iron fist. You walk into the office, check your calendar and see “Google meeting” followed by “Facebook intro”.

Google? Facebook? Today?

Your glorious reign over the web has ended and you will be facing the Gods of Digital Media.

All of the knowledge you have harnessed is slowly drifting away. You quickly book a conference room and await Judgment Day. Sitting at one end of the conference table, you hear their thunderous footsteps getting closer and closer.

Starting off in media, there is a perpetual misconception that suppliers and ad providers, ranging from the giants that are Facebook and Google to the smaller local suppliers, are all-knowing and have all of the proverbial aces up their sleeves.

As time passes, you begin to realize that they are all the same as you – execs and managers trying to make it past the obstacle course that each day provides.

And therein, as the Bard would tell us, lies the rub

As a digital specialist in a rapidly developing market, I am faced with a predicament that many of my colleagues face as well: the speed of my digital progression outpaces that of the regional and local suppliers.

One one hand, I am looking to purchase viewable impressions that deliver strong post-click metrics, but, on the other, I am perpetually faced with a wall of MPUs and Leaderboards with no viable ROI in sight.

During a rowdy and glass-clinking night with a legion of the country’s top portal’s workforce, I decided to inquire about the reasoning behind the plateau-like platitude of this platform. To my dismay, I was met with anger and fury from the crowd before me: “Why, what do we need to change?” was the common question thrown back at me. In anticipation of such a front, I hurled back an explanation for the utility of employing header bidding (to maximize ad revenue) and the newest innovation of Ads.txt (to ensure non-fraudulent ads). This time, however, I was met with completely blank faces.

The overarching problem does not lie within the individual, but with the overall industry. We, as an industry, pressure our employees to sell and push more inventory and to achieve the month’s sales targets by whatever means. As a money-making industry, this, of course, is quintessential to ensure growth; however, it is of the utmost importance to educate and grow the average employee’s knowledge to keep up with the ever-changing world that is digital. A smarter sales force is a more profitable sales force.

Hence, I do implore that each of us – be it the new digital planner, the account director or digital sales reps – continue learning and chasing knowledge. If we do, then, as an industry we can grow together – not just to appease our clients and increase sales, but push the limits of this expanding digital universe.

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