LONDON: The growth of automated media buying is set to push media planners into new strategic or advisory roles, a survey has argued.

Warc and the Festival of Media Global 2013, an event dedicated to the $500bn global media industry, surveyed 100 media agencies, owners and brands to ascertain their views on the impact of automated media buying.

On the question of how the media planner's job would change, 55% of respondents said they expected it would become that of a consultant or advisor, while 31% thought it would merge with other roles such as strategists or account managers.

Respondents were less sure on how media agencies were adapting to the new platforms. Some 38% felt agencies were embracing automation and looking at ways of working progressively with the trend, but 25% said they felt they were being slow to embrace automation and were acting defensively.

In addition, 14% suggested that media agencies would now have to work harder to prove their worth as a result of the trend. "Innovation is needed in an increasingly digital media world," said one respondent.

But it seems that agencies will have little choice but to adapt, as two thirds of respondents said they expected automated media buying to increase in the coming year. Moreover, 26% of this group felt the increase would be substantial.

Currently, automated media platforms are not a major part of brands' media strategies - most respondents (43%) said it accounted for 5% or less.

But there are a few that are making significant use of the platforms, as 4% said that up to 50% of the media business they handle went through automated media channels. At the high usage end of the spectrum, 5% said it comprised up to 90% of business, while 1% said up to 100%.

Saving time and resources was regarded as the key benefit of automated media buying, cited by 63% of respondents. Other advantages mentioned included ensuring clients get the best media value (35%), reducing waste and human error (33%), and enabling brands to run more campaigns across more media outlets (29%).

But the biggest selling point of automation also proved to be its biggest drawback, as 68% of respondents pointed to the lack of human input as a major problem. Other concerns included a lack of industry standards, cited by 35%, and a lack of transparency, referred to by 25%.

"Automated media trading platforms have surely been a significant development in this industry," said Charlie Crowe, founder of the Festival of Media Global.

"But while they have their place in elevating the effectiveness and reach of campaigns, they have yet to show maturity and gain the complete unquestioned acceptance of all industry peers."

Data sourced from Festival of Global Media, Warc