In 2014, we published a blog comparing direct media buying to programmatic buying, with the pros and cons to both as advertisers started moving budgets to more programmatic digital tactics. Now six years later, direct buying is still alive and well as predicted, but the pros to programmatic buying have shifted as the capabilities have advanced and spread into other tactics outside of just digital display banners. Now what we would consider to be more traditional tactics, like outdoor and television, can even be bought programmatically.
Programmatic buying has been around for a while but has yet to give any signs of completely replacing direct buying anytime soon. There are pros and cons to both that depending on the specific buy, make one more beneficial than the other.
With direct buying, the advertiser or media buyer buys ad space directly from publishers or ad networks. The process involves research to find the right outlet, negotiation with a sales representative, and sending out orders to confirm the placements. Direct buying is more manual and involves human interaction to build relationships and communicate with vendors.
It fits B2B media buying needs because it is still industry specific, but with the ability to negotiate added value and lower rates. Another bonus is advertisers typically receive preference for press opportunities.
Programmatic buying is a computer-generated, automated, ad buying process through real-time bidding auctions. Through automation and machine learning, the ad buying process becomes more productive, optimized and instantaneous. It has also allowed for more detailed forms of targeting a specific audience by geographic, demographic or behavioral data.
For B2B marketing, advertising with industry publications used to be one of the most targeted ways to reach a specific audience. Programmatic buying has allowed advertising to become more data driven as we can target a specific audience based on available first- or third-party data.
Pros and Cons
Media buying is rapidly advancing and yet remains very traditional at the same time. Even as the different tactics start to advance their capabilities, it does not mean that direct buys are going to disappear and programmatic will reign supreme. There are still buys that make more sense to go the direct route. In fact, a good portion of the media plans we put together include both direct and programmatic buys depending on which method will reach the campaign objective best.
Six years later and a lot of the pros and cons for each have remained the same, but programmatic buying continues to become the norm as it becomes more accessible and more advertising shifts to digital. With that being said, direct buys and the value they bring to an advertiser are not going anywhere any time soon.