As 2022 arrives it’s sure to be another year of addressable expansion. The pandemic is driving addressable adoption, as are developments in data use and a desire to reach specific audiences at scale. This caused revenues to rise almost 25% in 2020, and rapid growth continued throughout 2021.

No longer just the domain of digital display (where nine in ten dollars [MJL(K1] are spent on addressable ads), addressability is expanding across channels. Whether we’re streaming shows on connected TV, strolling past digital billboards, or listening to podcasts, there’s a strong possibility the ads we’re exposed to are specifically selected for our eyes or ears. 

The growth of addressable is undeniably positive. It enables relevant, respectful campaigns that put people at the center of marketing strategy. But as even more budgets are pushed into addressable, there will be a corresponding surge in complexity. Marketing teams must be equipped to accommodate this expansion with robust processes and workflow automation tools.  

As two challenges collide 

The shift to omnichannel addressability means increased sophistication in planning and activation. It’s tempting to believe that “addressable” connotes total automation. But the truth is there is no such thing as “setting and forgetting.” A lot of work is still required behind the scenes to plan and optimize against a brand’s desired outcomes. Potential platform and inventory partners must be vetted, complex campaign architecture must be built and quality assured, and live media must be policed to ensure brand safety, fraud, viewability, and frequency standards are met. Each new channel is a multiplier of volume and complexity.

And post-pandemic staff shortages aren’t helping the situation. Attracting talent for addressable activation is always challenging, with the ideal mix of analytical thinking, attention to detail, and proactive curiosity already hard to find. But now the “great resignation”, along with a loss of the city-based agency culture that was often appealing to entry-level employees, means attracting the right candidates and developing junior talent from within is even harder. 

The combined issues of complexity and staff shortages are tough enough for agencies. But they’re felt even more sharply by the brands managing addressable themselves. Meeting these challenges by implementing tight operational processes and advanced workflow tools is critical for both agencies and brand marketing teams in the year ahead.   

The mundane must-haves  

I realize standardized processes and workflow automation tools aren’t exactly glamorous. They’re not the stuff of pitch decks, but agencies can certainly lose business due to their absence. Without them, minor mistakes can quickly erode trust and lead to costly makegoods. More holistically, when these bedrock systems aren’t in place, strategic decisions are inevitably based on what is achievable with existing resources rather than what is best for the brand.     

Operational process begins with centralized project management to ensure important details aren’t lost in emails, instant messages, or local Word docs. Strong quality assurance processes must also be implemented, and clear swim lanes with well-defined roles and responsibilities introduced between departments. Finally, attention must be given to internal training to drive process understanding and adoption.

On the workflow automation side, campaign complexity is outpacing the capabilities of the vanilla bulk creation and editing tools found in most buying platforms. As a result, teams are furiously band-aiding their activation process with spreadsheets full of manual formulas and macros that are susceptible to human error. Mundane but crucial tasks, such as enforcing naming conventions and placement/creative mapping, often live outside of buying platforms, leaving them at the mercy of human bandwidth and attention to detail. All this needs to change. 

Solving process and workflow not only allows for better advertising, it also improves morale and employee retention. Clarifying roles, streamlining mundane tasks, and reducing anxiety around manual errors is a good start, and consistent workflow helps alleviate burnout by allowing client rotation and smooth vacation coverage. 

Where are we now? 

The need for processes and tools to accommodate addressable acceleration is quickly being recognized across the industry. Some demand-side platforms (DSPs) are expanding existing bulk tools to do more of the heavy lifting, but these third-party solutions will continue to be piecemeal solves. Some marketers are simplifying to a single technology stack, but this restricts them to one ecosystem and limits their options.     

We’re in a lucky position at Matterkind because we’ve been developing and deploying workflow tools for years, in close collaboration with our sister technology company Kinesso. We have a global team with a wide portfolio of experience that spans verticals, platforms, and campaign types, with the ability to pool our extensive knowledge base into a unique sounding board to inform the tools Kinesso creates.       

But even our advanced processes and tools are being put to the test by the current situation. We’re constantly working to ensure each account team across the globe has access to a foundational arsenal of solutions that provide a universal level of standards and support, while also allowing customization to fit the needs of specific clients and situations.

With the volume of spend pouring into addressable media only set to increase, and staff shortages unlikely to be resolved any time soon, I’m convinced the coming year will be a transformative one. Those that tighten up their operational processes and make the most of automated workflow tools will be best placed to achieve the outcomes brands expect in 2022.