GroupM to enforce automation with all digital publishers

By By David Blight | 26 October 2012

GroupM has revealed a policy which demands all digital publishers must interact with a new technology that automates the entire media briefing, booking and buying process, in order to bring down costs and create a centralised transaction database.

The media buying group has partnered with Facilitate Digital as the launch partner for its Electronic Insertion Order module, which sits within the Symphony Media platform.

The module streamlines the entire booking and briefing process for digital media buying by placing all briefs, proposals, media schedules, production schedules and trafficking schedules into a single automated program, which can be operated and approved from both publisher and agency side by the push of a button.

Previously, much of the process has been largely manual and disparate, with junior staff from agencies and publishers emailing or faxing multiple Excel spreadsheets, Word documents and Power Point presentations back and forth.

The automated process will also create a centralised database with information on all digital transactions.

GroupM chief digital officer Danny Bass told AdNews that tranaction costs will be significantly lessened because much of the laborious man-hours will be removed while human error will be reduced.

“We are really pushing the data piece,” Bass said. “While digital is growing so fast, by and large the transaction process is still very manual. Digital billings are growing, but this is not going to be reflected in growth of staff, so we need to future-proof the business.

“If you look at the briefing and booking of data from an agency side and the interaction with a publisher, there are so many stages where the agency and the publisher go back and forth with faxes and emails. It's very labour intensive. With this new system, the briefing and response is more automated. We press accept on our end, they press it on their end.

“With digital there may be five or ten or more insertion orders, as you are always optimising, so this significantly streamlines that process. It will bring down transaction costs, and if we can give a staff member an extra five or ten hours a week, that is very valuable.

“Symphony is the only platform in Australia that can do this, and they have told us that we are the only group in Australia which has made it compulsory to get an Electronic Insertion Order sign-off. We are the only group where it is in our terms and conditions that transactions for digital media must occur through this system.”

While the system will reduce staff hours required in the transaction space, Bass said no redundancies will result. He said staff will be able to focus on more interesting areas of the business, which he suggested was an important step in an industry with such a high churn rate.

Bass also said the automated system will create a centralised database which will allow the group to analyse previous transactions for future benefit.

“We can analyse the data, look at the work that has been involved in a transaction, look for efficiencies. This rich data source will be able to fuel our own business.”

Meanwhile, Facilitate Digital global chief operating officer Tom Peacock said the market has needed a technology like this for some time.

“In traditional media, the cost of transaction is maybe 5% or 10%,” Peacock said. “But in digital it is about 30%. Much of this is to do with the inefficiencies surrounding the actual transaction process between agency and publisher. You would expect sophistication in digital, but so much of the transaction process is still manual, it's still emails and faxes.

“This will not only bring down the cost of transaction, it will also allow agencies to create a wealth of investment data, which can be leveraged for the benefits of clients. Most agencies have no access to a centralised database of investment history, making it harder to buy efficiently for clients. This system changes that.”

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