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Boat sailing toward the sunrise: Successfully navigating change

4 Buy-Side Initiatives to Successfully Navigate Change

May 3rd, 2017   ||    by John R. Osborn   ||    No Comments

Advertising and media have always been laboratories for change. But with new automated TV buying specialists seemingly arriving at TV buy-side workplaces by the week, that change is only accelerating. “We need to continue to be flexible in the way that we work and the way we evolve, in how we manage the complexity [of our business] and still deliver what the client needs,” said Marla Kaplowitz, president and CEO of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), in an interview with MediaVillage.

Whether by acquisition, merger with “sister” agencies within holding companies, outside hiring, or strategic partnerships, the blending of new personnel, technology, and attitudes requires a deliberate change in buy-side approaches for management and employees alike. Currently, digital and automated TV roles break down into the following:

  • Planning: Strategic Planners/Trading Desk/Demand Side Platform (DSP) Managers/Data Analysts
  • Buying: Direct Buyers/DSP Managers/Data Analysts
  • Operations: Ad Tech/Operations Specialists
  • Trafficking: Trading Desk/DSP Managers
  • Stewardship (Planners/Buyers): Data Managers/Data Management Platform (DMP) experts
  • Finance/Accounts Payable: Finance Platform experts

With that in mind, here are four initiatives buy-side employees and management can—and should—take to successfully navigate the waves of change.

1. Invest in Training and Skills Development

Every member of a traditional local TV buying operation has the chance to grow alongside his or her organization, and requesting (and showing up for) training demonstrates a commitment to positive change. This can happen internally through one-on-one sessions with trainers, organized classes, and demonstration workshops, as well as on-the-job experience intentionally set up to be shared by digital, ad tech, and traditional jobholders.

It can also happen through external training programs, conferences, and by hiring third-party consulting experts and focusing on industry trade publications and white papers. Trusted vendors/partners can also provide training as part of their services, and such services tend to integrate well with daily workflow.

2. Foster Personal Development and Team Building

Although often referred to as “soft skills,” there’s nothing soft about these skills. They generally start with human resources, which is just that: human. And nothing is more human than concerns about change, job security, and the future. Organizational development firm New & Improved likes to think about this in terms of the “Gator Brain,” showing us how to upshift from our “survival” instincts to a more creative response.

Buy-side stakeholders can also employ creative problem solving and team-building training—check out what the Creative Education Foundation and Forbes have to say about this—so everyone contributes to and is invested in new strategies and organizations. Players across different roles should also be learning these methods together, so personal bonds and trust can be established and “us vs. them” attitudes reduced.

3. Liberate the Silos: Cross-Pollination

Traditional buy-side players will benefit from learning the digital way, and new digital folks will gain from understanding the local TV business, along with the relationships that drive this largest-spending ad medium. If the structure of your organization remains split between “traditional” and “digital,” now is the time to show initiative and expand beyond your silo. Even if senior management is addressing the organizational structure, the energy behind crossover learning and responsibilities is often best when it comes from the employees themselves.

4. Open Communication Channels

It’s on leadership to communicate an organization’s vision, strategy, and road map to each employee for overall and individual success. But employees old and new must communicate as well—to management, suppliers, clients, and colleagues—by asking questions and learning from each other. Conflict resolution can also build communication and strengthen teams.

In the end, there’s no need to “white knuckle” through times of change: We’re all in this together.

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