Philip Pollock – Chief Operating Officer, Resolution Digital
Mental health is an important topic across the nation, with the advertising and media industry being no exception. On R U OK day, I’d like to highlight the pressures and stresses the specialists, implementors and operators of media buying platforms are exposed to on a daily basis.
The new world of media buying
I started my journey in marketing & media back in 2005. I was working for a financial service business and my first role was as a Data Analyst within the marketing department. I graduated University in Computer Science, so at the time, the owner of the company thought I was the most qualified to run “this new way of direct marketing, similar to the Yellow pages” called, Google AdWords. For me, this was my first experience of real time media buying. You enter a budget, search terms to target, a basic ad and press go! The ad is live and you are instantly spending the company’s money. This is a far cry from the “good old days” of media, where I am continually reminded that you previously faxed off your booking sheet of activity to run the next week on a Friday afternoon then headed to the pub to end the week.
Move forward to today and the vast majority of digital activity is transacted through some type of platform almost instantly. As the levels of sophistication in the individual campaigns increase, the options & variations available in the platform also increase. There are probably hundreds of thousands of different permutations on how a campaign can be set up and implemented, but only one set up and combination is correct as per the given brief. There are infinitely more ways for the specialist to incorrectly set up a campaign than to correctly set up a campaign... all with the ability to spend client budgets within seconds.
Added to this complexity we have the ability to tweak campaigns, change ads, update targeting and amend budgets based on client or campaign changes at any time, in real time, 24/7.
That terror that everyone experiences
We can put in as many checks and balances, processes & audits but errors and mistakes are likely to still occur. Everyone remembers their first big mistake, whether it is accidently selecting ‘daily budget’ instead of ‘campaign budget’ or putting an additional zero in the total budget line. The feeling of terror upon discovering this mistake is the same for everyone.
The good news is that this happens to the best of us, including myself. In the early versions of AdWords Editor the location targeting previously defaulted to the US for all new campaigns. Instead of running 7 days of activity targeting people in the UK, I targeted the whole of the US, spending over £100K. It took me a while to realise why performance was so poor. There was also the case of a Google trainee who reportedly ran a blank yellow ad with an extremely high bid essentially across the whole of the internet for 45 mins. The Financial Times estimated the cost of this mistake was in the region of US$10m.
Welcoming new talent
As the industry grows and we welcome new talent into the world of real time platforms, we need to realise the type of pressures and stresses they are now experiencing. Young people with only a few years experience in the workforce are given the authority to spend more than the CFOs of many large companies with comparably less oversight.
The notion of instant access, real time optimisation and the possibility of changes throughout the life cycle of a campaign can put pressure on individuals believing that they should also be accessible 24/7. Lockdowns have compounded this issue with the blurred lines between creating boundaries and balance, between personal and work life. We need to ensure that people still have the ability to down tools and switch off, to not have the anxiety and sleepless nights thinking about the budget pacing of their campaigns and to not carry the weight of it all on their shoulders. At Resolution Digital we are constantly developing automated checks and balances on all set ups to help reduce the risks and therefore stress levels of our team members.
The impact of restrictions is still being felt across our industry. The demand for people with programmatic, social and search skills has never been higher and more competitive. Resource shortages continue to make the headlines.
We need to create welcoming and safe environments for everyone in our industry, but especially people who are just starting on their journey in the platform space. I am a firm believer that the media and advertising industry is a great place to work and the vibrant culture which exists across the whole industry should be protected and harnessed to ensure we are attracting and retaining the best talent.
When the pressure is on and mistakes occur, we need to own this and take accountability as a team and not as individuals. Every day we need to be on our guard looking out for team members and asking the important question, “R U OK?”