The More Control You Have Over Your Digital Destiny, the Higher the Dividends

If you want to see the future of ad tech, look to the evolution of financial trading tools.

For decades, the only way to trade a stock was to call a stock broker — literally it was a game of telephone. And for a long time, nobody questioned it…it was just the way it was done. Send your money to the broker and hope for the best.

Yet, as individual investors became more sophisticated, they grew weary of paying exorbitant fees to brokers who frequently didn’t know much more than they did and often kept them in the dark about where their money was going and why. The truth is, if the results were incredible and clients were getting rich, they likely wouldn’t have taken issue with the system. But they weren’t, and they did.

As of the end of 2016, 3.5 million brokerage accounts, accounting for nearly $7 billion in investments, are registered with E-Trade alone.

Soon, enterprising companies like E-Trade took notice and began offering consumers the tools and resources they needed to skip the middleman and handle stock trading themselves. Today, so much trading is handled on a self-service basis, starting with software that was rolled out to brokers at big banks, but eventually finding its way directly into the hands of consumers. You’ll even find companies that do all of the investing work for you, be it balanced funds, auto-rebalancing, etc. DIY investing continues to grow: As of the end of 2016, 3.5 million brokerage accounts, accounting for nearly $7 billion in investments, are registered with E-Trade alone.

I like to think of the developments in ad tech as similar to what revolutionized the trading of stocks, and for similar reasons.

It wasn’t that long ago that ad networks were doing all of the managed services work behind the scenes. Enterprising marketers, who have for a long time entrusted many elements of their media campaigns to “brokers,” realized they were doling out large fees but for what? A combination of older technology and the inherent benefit for some companies to keep their offering and pricing firmly in a black box left marketers in the dark about how their budget was being spent. And, much like those investing in the stock market, they weren’t getting the dividends for which they hoped.

As a result, DSPs started releasing self-service tools to agencies and brands alike. It’s come to the point where self-service for buying media has becoming more the norm than the exception. Marketers want transparency and control, and self-service tools give them that.

In the end, it’s all about control, efficiency and customization. The more control you have over your digital destiny, the higher the dividends.

Marketers now have the ability to take control of their ad-tech stack through technologies like DIY DSPs, allowing for more customized, cost-efficient and impactful campaigns unencumbered by the transparency issues caused by the managed service layer that has generated process and cost inefficiencies and increased the incidence of human error for some time. Self-service literally lets you control how and when you want to market.

Creative is the next wave that is poised to benefit from the self-service trend. Creatives understandably want to own the design and ultimate execution of their vision. They want the control of being able to make a quick tweak for legal or a price swap for a new offer without having to set up two conference calls and send five emails to all stakeholders. Now with self-service, creatives have full access to build and tweak their digital creative until it’s pixel-perfect, greatly reducing the email and phone call clutter and allowing them to truly focus their efforts on what they do best.

In the end, it’s all about control, efficiency and customization. The more control you have over your digital destiny, the higher the dividends.

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