Aug 15 2022
Megan Reschke

What Is Workflow Automation?


It’s a Tuesday afternoon, and you’re hopping online for your weekly team meeting. As you chat with your coworkers before the meeting officially starts, you notice that everyone on the call looks a bit…exhausted. Sound familiar?

Though every organization is different—and there are certainly those that prioritize rest and overall employee wellbeing—it’s no secret that tiredness and burnout are common in the marketing world, across all levels of employees (see: The Great Resignation).

There are many causes of burnout, but one thing’s for certain: in the context of economic upheaval, brands need to be firing on all cylinders. To that end, let’s explore a powerful solution for both minimizing burnout and maximizing efficiency: workflow automation.

Why do Advertisers Need Workflow Automation?

Over the past several decades, media complexity has soared. We can’t be the only ones who remember the dark ages of only having to choose between Netflix and Hulu, as opposed to ten additional streaming TV platforms…(Right?...Bueller?)  

Here’s an example of the factors media buyers had to juggle in 2000:

  • Devices: desktop
  • Platforms: ad server, search
  • Creative: text (search), display

Annnnd now:

  • Devices: desktop, mobile, tablet, out-of-home (OOH), connected TV
  • Platforms: ad server, search, social, DMPs, DSPs, analytics, viewability, business intelligence, attribution  
  • Creative: text (search), display, video, audio, social, native

If we’re being honest, this doesn’t even scratch the surface. Consider the expansion of vendors, cost types, and buying and tracking methods—and once you sprinkle in the complexity around consumer data and privacy regulations? I mean, c’mon.

While many marketing organizations have embraced new technologies to help manage this fragmentation, those technologies are often disparate point solutions which, funnily enough, add to the complexity. In a recent survey, the majority of advertisers reported using 7 platforms in a typical day, and 9 for a typical ad campaign. On top of that (and likely because of it), advertising professionals reported spending an average of 6 hours per week on low value, repetitive tasks.

It's no wonder marketers are feeling tired.

What is Workflow Automation?

In a marketing context, workflow automation is the use of processes and technologies to reduce redundancies and minimize time spent on duplicative, low-value tasks throughout the entire lifecycle of a campaign. Digital advertising workflow automation can look like:

  • Embracing technology that unites many channels into one platform (direct, programmatic, advanced TV, search, and social).
  • Utilizing an advertising platform that handles every stage of a campaign (planning, negotiating, buying, reporting, analytics, optimizations, and billing) through a single sign-on. 
  • Using advertising workflow software that consistently expands upon and improves automation features to reduce manual, redundant labor.

Benefits of Workflow Automation

Now that we’ve defined the elements of workflow automation in digital advertising, let’s dig into a few of its (many!) benefits

1. Reduce Complexity

An effective omnichannel campaign has many moving parts. Now, imagine the added challenge for marketers that have to sign on to a different platform for each of those channels. And when it’s time to pull a report for that campaign? That’s a lot of different data sets to standardize and compile!

By uniting disparate channels, and all parts of the media buying process, into one platform, workflow automation can help mitigate the complexity of today’s digital media landscape.

2. Save Time

Remember those 6 hours per week that advertisers are losing to low-value, manual work? Workflow automation can give those precious hours back to organizations by streamlining the campaign management process.

What does that streamlining process look like, beyond uniting channels and campaign functions into a single workflow? Leveraging advertising automation throughout the advertising workflow will also boost efficiency and reduce manual labor. For example, marketers can leverage AI-powered Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO) to automatically build thousands of digital ads that vary in real-time based on retargeting, creative personalization, audience segmentation, and more.

3. Talent Retention

Remember when we mentioned the impact of The Great Resignation on the advertising industry? One solution to preventing turnover on your team is having an automated and standardized workflow. This allows your people to sidestep time-consuming, manual processes and focus on high-level, fulfilling tasks. Sounds like the kind of work most marketers want to spend their time on, right?

Beyond these benefits, an automated advertising workflow can empower multi-dimensional reporting, granular campaign optimizations, streamlined financial reconciliation processes, and more!

How to Automate Your Workflow

Advertising workflow management can feel like a daunting task—but it doesn’t have to be. In today’s complex digital landscape, brands and agencies can automate marketing workflows by embracing platforms that address the entire lifecycle of a campaign, rather than point solutions that only add to the complexity.

Basis, for example, helps users with all-channel activation, negotiation and contract management, real-time monitoring and campaign reporting, increased collaboration and communication, and much more—all through a single interface. It’s no surprise that 77% of Basis users report being able to move from planning to activation faster, and that 80% agree that it makes their job easier.

At the end of the day, isn’t that what most marketing teams strive for? To embrace tools and innovations that give them the time and energy to focus on creative, high-level work? That’s the promise of workflow automation: fulfilling work, efficient processes, and—best of all—happy teammates.

For an even deeper dive into all things advertising automation, check out our guide.

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