AOL's Noel Penzer on why programmatic is key to a sales team’s success

If there’s one thing on the lips of digital ad teams across the industry right now it’s programmatic trading. However quick or slow publishers are to embrace it, there’s no denying it will play a major part in the future of digital advertising, but is automation taking over to the detriment of sales teams? Or is this a brave new world for digital advertising?

One of the cons levied at programmatic buying and selling is that it removes human involvement and is the death knell of the sales team, but we at AOL really don’t see it this way. Quite the opposite, in fact.

As it stands, sales teams spend far too much time locked in the IO process and managing the mundane administration tasks associated with digital ad sales. In simple terms, programmatic means efficiency. It can reduce a task that would take 12 hours to one that takes a few minutes. Does this mean the sales team now have nothing to do? No.

The wealth of time they now find themselves with can be applied to better, more creative campaigns and rich content that works harder for publishers and for brands. They can progress from sales people to evangelists for the publisher, able to spend time working closely with agencies and clients in delivering richer ad solutions. This is the way the industry is going, driving better engagement, especially with the likes of native content.

By automating mundane tasks, we are able to work more closely with editorial on native solutions, with the creative team on content partnerships, and with the data team on maximising optimisation of digital inventory. All of this means more effective advertising, which in turn will drive more budgets into online advertising.

The machines taking over the mundane tasks of sales people only means the same people have more time to do their jobs better. Beyond this it also means that less data is lost with a programmatic buy than the standard IO process, which insures better targeting and campaign analysis for brands.

At AOL, we have put our money where our mouth is by putting all of our premium inventory into AOL’s propriety DSP, so every ad space across our sites — including The Huffington Post, Engadget, TechCrunch, MyDaily and Parentdish — can be bought in an automated fashion.

We drive programmatic in support of enhanced creativity, not to its detriment. It is vital that we as an industry, and AOL as a publisher, see the programmatic offering as more than automation. It is about liberating teams to do braver, more exciting things with brands and advertisers, and upskilling the sales force to inject renewed creativity into everything they do.

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