Technology Vendors Should Be Partners in Disguise
Let's face it – it isn't easy to adapt to every change in our rapidly evolving market – even for the best of companies. Seemingly every day we learn about new platforms, new devices, new consumer behaviors and expectations, new forms of monetization, etc. And with startups continuously being launched – many to address just one market need, much less today's need – it is easy to see why media companies often feel at odds.
Most of the challenge lies in the technology capabilities that these companies deploy being able to keep up with the fluid industry and the terms under which they were hired. In order for media companies to be truly competitive (and happy with their vendor relationships), they will need to look at the big picture when hiring. Media companies need to partner with vendors who can help them anticipate, plan and adapt, not just provide technology for the problem at hand.
However, the ability to adapt and create is far less tangible than offering a short-term solution with a pre-existing product or service, which is why it’s often undervalued. With digital video, there are only a few technology companies committed to providing creative and adaptable solutions for the present and, more important, the future.
But even when they stress a long-term approach, there will be clients who ask about specific features and end up hiring a vendor that fulfills what they want, or think they want, right now. Unfortunately, adaptability often isn’t prioritized as much as a specific product because it is hard to comprehend where the industry is headed and trust the advice that a vendor offers to prepare you for the future.
On the surface, successful partners to media companies have evolved steadily with the changes in the market – think Google, Amazon and Apple – punctually releasing new products and technologies to match consumer demand. But what you can’t see from the surface is that these are not one-time releases.
Quality products and services don’t start at concept creation and end when they’re released to the market. Successful vendors are continuously remaking their technology, often building new and rebuilding existing features entirely from scratch, allowing them to keep up with constant changes in the digital landscape, partner needs and learnings from past successes and failures.
This isn't easy for clients to appreciate since they don’t see under the hood. However, client respect can be earned when these vendors approach client needs with a full-scope view and deliver on their promise. Analogous to IBM, a successful partner will identify a breadth of innovation opportunities and use an arsenal of people and technology to execute for their clients.
Stumbling With Tunnel-Vision
Why is this topic important? Put simply, the biggest challenge for many in the media industry is the inability for companies to adapt due to a tunnel-vision agreement between the client and vendor. Media companies are signing contracts with vendors who are just looking to add customers and serve them with a pre-determined set of products; adaptation and flexibility are not part of that package.
Clearly media companies want to innovate more and offer consumers the products and services they want, but growth will be limited until client-vendor relationships and expectations evolve. Instead of blaming limited technology and vendors that haven’t adapted to their changing needs, media companies need to rethink existing and new agreements.
To start, they should begin to judge their vendors and suppliers not on their technology platform and services of today, but on whether the vendor takes into account their long-term goals and provides creative ideas for how to achieve them. Successful media companies will partner with a vendor that has a broad vision, robust technology backed by committed business and technical professionals, and one that will introduce solutions they haven't even asked for yet.
While it’s important to check out a vendor’s list of features, listen to the marketing and sales pitches and watch the product demonstrations, put your eggs in the basket of the vendor who offers a strategy and a plan for the future.
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Atul Patel is the CEO and Founder of OneScreen, a company committed to giving people more access to watch content where, when, and how they want. Atul has over 12 years experience in strategy and product development in video, display, mobile, and direct response advertising. He has served as an advisor to various companies in digital advertising. Atul is a founding team member of Optimal Inc (fka XA.net and CPM Advisors), a leading social advertising platform, and LeadiD, a lead generation trust platform that is changing the face of lead generation. Previously, Atul co-founded LeadROI, a lead management system for financial services companies, which was successfully sold to MediaWhiz Holdings in 2008. Before LeadROI, Atul was with Countrywide Financial, where he served in various roles including lead generation, acquisition and marketing analytics. Atul earned his bachelor’s degree in economics, with a specialization in computing, from the University of California at Los Angeles. Atul resides in Irvine, California, where he is married with two children. Atul is a frequent author, speaker and panel participant for IAB, Digiday, AdExchanger, Niche Digital, OMMA Global, and more.