Media Buyers, You’ve Been Disintermediated By The Modern Abacus

Maybe someday USA TODAY will hire me to cover Cannes for them. Until that day, we’ll have to do with Michael Wolff’s coverage.

Apparently Wolff wandered into a party where Jay Sears from Rubicon Project, “the leading technology company automating the buying and selling of advertising globally,” was explaining how in three years 50% of all media buying will be automated.


Wolff says he has no idea what that means.

I have, however, been failing to understand this long enough to have begun to comprehend that what we don’t understand is now transforming the media business in ways that we don’t understand at our own peril.

Here’s a video description of what it means:

For ad buyers, Rubicon offers a single access point to premium inventory at massive scale — reaching more than 96.7% of the entire U.S. internet audience.

Wolff, in his confusion, does note that prices of digital advertising have “relentlessly dropped since it became clear that digital supply would ceaselessly outstrip demand.”

But now smart publishers using new automated tools could start to make prices go up again, Wolff contends. “Automation could be used to counter automation, in other words.”



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.