A Quick Chat With Randy Altman on The Changing Landscape of Local Buying and Why PVX?
Randy Altman joined ProVantageX in February 2019 as Director of Demand Side Sales bringing over twenty years agency experience. I sat down with Randy to ask why she made the transition from one side of the table as buyer to sales and to talk about the changes she’s seeing in local buying.
Q: Though it’s hardly necessary, lets start with an intro…How long have you been in this industry?
A: A long time (laughs). I’ve been involved in local media buying as a local buyer for a long time with experience at McCann Erickson, US International, and most recently at Publicis. My friends, colleagues, and I like to keep it at twenty plus years.
Q: Why the change to the buying software side? Why now?
A: Automation has been coming for some time now and the industry is shifting towards it. I wanted to be at the front of this wave. And there’s a need for it. In the past, it was more straightforward to buy a local spot. There were four networks that dominated, cable was just coming onto the scene. If I wanted to buy a spot in “This Is Us”, I would call my one seller at NBC and get a rate. Now, with audience fragmentation, there are multiple vendors selling the same program with different measurement. It’s a lot to consider.
Q: Yes, viewing data has transformed a lot since its inception and I’m sure the industry reformed with these changes. Did you experience pushes towards automation at any of the agencies you worked at?
A: Yes. We tested platforms like ProVantageX at a prior agency but they were not producing the needed results. Local buyers really pride themselves in being able to get the job done, the right way. It looked like the focus of the platforms in the market was to find the cheapest spot – a race to the bottom. But there was not a lot of room for other important considerations. Most clients care deeply about the environment where they are airing ads.
Q: What made you choose PVX?
A: I believe in the product we’re building. I believe it addresses the intricacies of a buyer’s needs alongside the buyer’s intuition and market intelligence. PVX was designed by buyers based on a proven successful model. It was designed to an ease-of-use automated system accompanied by intelligence to add value to a client’s media mix. Our mission is to bring dollars back to the local space by proving that local media buying can be efficient and produce results.
Q: Even though it’s coming, there is a definite resistance from a buyer’s standpoint to use automated buying software – rightfully so. People believe their jobs are in jeopardy if they can be replaced by a machine that can work without the need to sleep, eat, breathe, take care of their families. What can you say to address this concern?
A: I remember when buyers and sellers were concerned about the fax machine putting them out of work…change is hard. My suggestion to buyers is be a hand raiser, be the first to learn the new spot and you and your career will evolve. If you hide from change it doesn’t go away it just makes you more vulnerable. Our industry needs to band together to make clients aware that alongside technology we can buy local media intelligently and efficiently.
Q: So you see automation inevitably forging its way into the industry. But in this industry, there has always been a history of human relationships that’s been crucial to the buy-sell process. With the emergence of SaaS platforms/automated software, do you see these long-standing relationships going away?
A: Again, 30 years ago the fear was that the fax machine would erode the relationships. It is a fact that the face to face nature of the transactional business has changed because of technology but I would be hard pressed to say that relationships have not stood the test of time. We are in a service business and it will always require a human touch.
Q: Any parting words of wisdom?
A: As I said before, automation in this industry is inevitable and many buyers are scared of this change. Do you want to hide under your desk and hope it doesn’t affect you? Or you can embrace this change and learn the technology. Leverage your buying knowledge and apply it to these automated platforms. The landscape of this industry is changing and the smart software at ProVantageX allows an organization to empower their buyers to grow their business and deliver at that next level for their clients.