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The Deep Dive 6 May 2019 - 6 min read

Machine automation in media + marketing 65% done by 2025 - what next?

By Paul McIntyre - Executive Editor

Pic: Simon Zhu

Futureshock: Up to 95% of all media transactions will be informed by machine intelligence within five years; 65% completely automated and just 25% will remain relationship and ideas based, says Jack Myers, a New York-based 'media ecologist'. How much radical change should we expect to job numbers, skillsets and business processes in an automated media supply chain?

You need to know this:


  • Jack Myers is the founder of MediaVillage. Beyond his forecast of 65% full media automation within six years, he predicts 85-95% of all media transactions will be informed by machine intelligence by 2025.


  • 25% of media transactions will remain relationship and ideas based but informed by data.



  • You guessed it: those three companies are Google, Facebook and Amazon. 



  • WEF says an average of 29% of task hours were performed by machines in 2018 versus 71% by humans. 


  • By 2025, when Jack Myers' media transaction forecast lands, the WEF says machines will take 52% of tasks versus 48% by humans.





  • By 2022, 135 million jobs related to AI will emerge, though it requires major investment in developing a workforce capable of working in that field, according to the World Economic Forum.


  • What does it mean for current job numbers and skillsets for brand marketers, agencies and media owners in Australia?

"Media automation at 65% of all transactions in five years is vastly conservative. It could impact half to three-quarters of jobs in media and digital media buying teams. Jack is right but 2025 will be the start of the apocalypse. Not the apocalypse itself."

Andy Lark, Group Lark

Media ecologist - really?

Jack Myers has a masters degree in media ecology from New York University and is the founder of MediaVillage. He argues the media and marketing industries are in the fourth stage of technological transformation. Each stage has typically lasted about seven to eight years and in the current cycle we will see the collapse of media, agencies and marketers who don't adapt by 2025. Dramatic? For sure but hear him out first.


A little fast, smart history on the fourth stage of tech transformation in marketing and media:


Stage 1: 1993-2000

Internet browser introduced


Stage 2: 2000-2007

Companies emerge built around the browser – Google, YouTube, Amazon, Facebook et al


Stage 3: 2007-2015

A wave of transformation begins restructuring the infrastructure of how business is done in a category and particularly in the media sector – emergence of demand-side platforms, sell-side platforms, real-time bidding et al. Legacy relationship models still holding up


Stage 4: 2015-2025

Final stage of transformation, the collapse of players who don't adapt to the new technology, expansion of those companies that do.

"As automation bites, you'd hope to see a rebalancing towards ideas, relationships and the strategy aspects. Media has become very transactional. There are a lot less clients willing to pay for media strategy. There's a lot less media strategy getting done."

Jon Bradshaw, Brand Traction

"What I don't buy is that automation is going to come at the expense of relationships, strategy and ideas. That's absolutely not going to happen. It is going to reduce headcount, particularly within digital media buying and planning teams across all industries. But ideas, strategy and relationships will be be 100% more important.

Andy Lark, Group Lark

The local perspective:


Henry Innis, Cheuk Chiang, Matt Farrugia - Mutiny  

"Agency partners in the Australian market are still largely based on a commission of spend and volume bonus structure. This limits their ability to respond to the rapidly changing media landscape in a way that incentivises them to solve increasingly complex client problems around media and data, as they’re making their money off encouraging clients to spend more. Long-term, this puts agency and advertising conglomerates at odds with an increasingly fragmented media market." 

"The capabilities of Nine and News Corp locally haven’t yet been maximised by brands and their media agencies. These organisations are large and at a scale to rival Google and Facebook in the market, but haven’t yet been allowed to lead with their increasingly powerful data businesses and combinations. Locally, these networks are looking at data in a more powerful way than many legacy media organisations globally, but brands have yet to fully embrace their potential to put their best foot forward."

Andy Lark, Group Lark

"On my optimistic side, marketers can find a home, new roles and reskill for all kinds of exciting new work. But you've got to bring to that the brute force of the P&L and balance sheet. At some point the CEO or CFO is going to say you can spend millions on AI and automation but you better show me where the dollars are going to come from to fund that because you're not going to get more money. "

"Automation of routine tasks - buying and the implementation of those strategies will be absolutely automated. It'll certainly have a massive impact on headcounts through media agencies. Digital marketing teams too. It could mean media agencies themselves start to develop their own platforms and catch-up with some of the innovators coming out of Israel and the US." 


Jon Bradshaw, Brand Traction

"It does raise some serious questions for the small media agency to exist when you've got to spend millions on the technology. That's a shame because there's some great offerings out there. That competition is healthy."


You need to listen to this, seriously:

Marketers Jon Bradshaw and Andy Lark discuss media and marketing automation on the MI3 Audio Edition. It's loaded with insight.


More from the futurist...

1. Wait and see won't cut it 

"The vast majority of media companies are waiting to see. The point now is we’re entering Stage Four of this transformation where we can no longer say, 'I'll wait and see what happens with my competitors' or 'I'll wait and see what happens in five years and that will be in the next guy's hands or in the next woman’s hands'. Those people will probably just be out of work for having mismanaged and misguided their companies." - Jack Myers


2. Media slow because it's "used to change"

"There's a real danger going forward because in our industry we're so used to seeing change, we're so accustomed to being able to wait. When cable came, the broadcast networks waited. As the internet emerged, the legacy media waited. They let the implosion of the early part of a century pass before they jumped back in and now they find themselves playing catch-up. Well, they don’t have the luxury to play catch-up. Five years from now, the winners and losers will have been decided." - Jack Myers


3. Legacy media in catch-up on data and analytics

"Right now the whole industry is playing catch up on data and analytics and in that context it's the Google, Facebook, Amazon home field and it's playing with their rules and their ball and they're controlling the shots. While there are issues related to brand safety, fake news, bots and fraud - all of these issues are very real, they need to be addressed. But marketers look at those as issues that need to be fixed as opposed to completely new business models that need to be constructed. That's kind of the difference. The TV medium and others need to construct new business models in order to succeed in the future." - Jack Myers


4. Missing a trick on how marketer change is impacting media and agencies

"Among marketers the traditional siloed effect of a media department, a CMO,  being the kind of single face toward the media world and the agency world is collapsing. Media companies and agencies have to respond much more effectively to not just above-the-line advertising, focused on awareness and retention, but the below-the-line commerce focus, below-the-line trade promotion, sliding allowances, working directly with retail, the B2B component. The PR, the packaging, the whole diversity of talent are all coming under a singular umbrella and that's where advertising and media has to fit into. We are not ready as an industry for those new realities." - Jack Myers


5. Wall Street the biggest concern for legacy to reinvent

"My biggest concern is that Wall Street embraces innovation, investment, loss of money and a lack of profitability in the digital ecosystem. But in the traditional media ecosystem, there is very low tolerance even for minimal investment in the future that doesn't have a quarterly payout in meeting profit goals and objectives. So as an industry we have to address the expectations and the ability of media companies to gain positive acceptance on Wall Street when they make decisions that negatively impact on their profitability, their quarterly profitability and their short-term profitability.  And by short-term, I mean, two to four years." - Jack Myers


Mi3 takeout


  • Jack Myers raises one important caveat: will coming regulatory restrictions on Google, Facebook Amazon around user data and privacy rights help even the playing field for the rest of the media and agency sector. "The challenging question is whether looming regulation over data rights and uses will be a boon to the TV industry or a further hindrance in its quest for equality."  
  • If Myers is even half right, a three-way exchange of ideas and professional development across marketing, media and agencies is the optimal outcome for the Australian market to tackle the headwinds of global change and to keep human capital from withering - both in job numbers and talent capabilities and quality.
  • Myers point around our industry being so "used to change" that we think we can wait is indeed the danger. 
  • Significant investment in talent training and professional development used to be central to the Australian industry’s ethos. Is a collective industry effort possible and the most effective course?  
  • Is it likely that a competitive play-out between individual companies charting their own course in this market will prevail? If the latter transpires, we may have already seen the playbook: global scale and smarts wins out over local market competitors under-resourced in fighting each other and the international set.

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