What Will Publisher Biz Dev Teams Look Like by 2015?


ADOTAS – Programmatic has forced a lot of changes on the digital advertising industry. The new approach has made it easier to advertise at scale, and to reach target audiences more effectively. In general, programmatic has made the industry more efficient overall.

More efficiency has also meant fewer insertion orders, since those have become part of the automation process in many cases. That also signifies fewer power lunches (who has time for those, anyway?), fewer games of golf (again…time!) and fewer cocktails after work.

What that ultimately indicates is the high-priced digital sales executive is going the way of the dodo. Just a few years ago, there was a high demand for the senior sales executive with a full Rolodex, or even better 500+ LinkedIn contacts. These management people were perceived as being worth their weight in gold. They were sought after, in short supply and able to demand high salaries and higher commissions.

Now, along comes programmatic, and the reduced need for interaction between publisher and advertiser. There’s also more transparency and democracy in pricing. Add to the equation an increase in supply, and more and more young executives and offline media sales folks are looking for opportunities to strike gold in the digital advertising space, making those expensive senior executives seem like a luxury no one needs.

With an increase in supply, a decrease in demand, compensation pressure and so much automation, the future of the business development team will shift dramatically. It is not that programmatic will entirely displace sales people. Programmatic will always need a human touch, but sales roles must be adapted in order to provide it. There will be a new kind of team member working in sales and they won’t be working in a corner office or turning in excessive expense reports.

Picture a team of young professionals that are more focused on helping clients navigate technology than on closing deals. Sales teams will be less organized around transactions and will instead be tasked with forming service relationships that help clients navigate their way through programmatic buys. These young and vibrant team members will be less about big personalities and deal closing and more about supporting client needs. This kind of skill is more trainable and manageable than the old school sales executive.

These new kids on the block won’t demand the high salaries of their former counterparts, as the industry overall will see fairer pricing under the programmatic umbrella. Programmatic has created a marketplace in which publishers and advertisers can buy and sell ads in real-time. The role of the sales guy that calls up a client two months in advance to place an ad is just totally antiquated in this world, and so is his seven-figure salary.

With programmatic growing, existing sales executives will need to retrain their brains and expectations or consider a career change. With the right training, junior sales executives will be able to meet the demands of savvier buyers, which will demand more tech know-how than glossy handshakes. Advertisers today are more interested in someone who can help them figure out how to target the right consumer at the right time and don’t care about a flashy partner who will take them out on the town.

Someone should call the bars, sports venues, golf courses and nail salons and let them know. Programmatic will be affecting their business as well.

By 2015, premium inventory and custom ads will take over more inventory and today’s senior executives will need to be nimble to stay employed.


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