Legacy Media Took the Slow (and Smart) Road to Ad Tech

It’s easy to blame the fall-off of print advertising on any number of factors – the meteoric growth of digital platforms, rapidly changing consumer behaviors, massive popularity of video, etc. And the legacy print industry has been reluctant to dive into the world of programmatic ad buys, which some saw as shortsighted not long ago.

Yet that reluctance, explains AdWanted’s Joseph Lagani, may have helped preserve the value of print ads, and opened up a genuine opportunity now.

“Legacy print has been one of the last areas in the media landscape to decide how to apply technology to make the business of selling and buying advertising and sponsorship easier,” Lagani writes in MediaPost. “One good reason for that is no one wanted inventory to experience the same kind of devaluation that happened in the digital display advertising world.”

“The legacy print world held off on automating to maintain value,” Lagani continues. “But as the rest of media transactions went programmatic, it became relatively hard and time consuming to buy print. Publishers and ad buyers alike resisted, fearing that race to the bottom and the loss of valuable personal relationships and service.”  

Now, Lagani sees a shift in the industry, with publishers embracing ad technology that use automation for the time-consuming, low-value work, freeing up the humans involved for the real work of building relationships.

“Automation and private marketplaces — as opposed to programmatic solutions — are allowing publishers and agencies to work together in a more seamless way without losing the personal connection,” he continues.

With this embrace of new tech comes a new type of opportunity. While publishers have been incorporating revenue streams like email marketing and conferences, ad sales teams have been scaled back. Applying automation, through companies like AdWanted, will be a “game changer,” Lagani believes, and help publishers steer clear of the kind of contextual disasters that can happen when ad buying goes completely programmatic.

Legacy publishers were smart to avoid jumping headlong into the programmatic pool. And now, as an industry, we are getting much better at articulating the advantages of print ads and the trust bump of printed magazines. Publishers are realizing that their print audience has enormous value, and brands view print ads as a place to engage and build relationships. 

For publishers, waiting for the right tech solution to buy and place those valuable ads – without the potentially disastrous risks inherent in the digital ad exchange game – is about to pay off.