🍿 The microwave popcorn of media

Bragging about agency programmatic capabilities is a flex as strong as bragging about how good you are at microwave popcorn.

Travis Lusk
Travis Lusk

The popcorn market is awash with delish varieties: from the sinfully salty and indulgent buttery explosions to the virtuous no-salt and low-calorie alternatives. Even the cheesy temptations and unpretentious, plain popcorn have their loyal followers. But amidst this cornucopia of flavor sensations, does the person operating the microwave wield any power? Can the connoisseur's touch—or lack thereof—determine the ultimate deliciousness of the fluffy, popped kernels, transforming them from mundane munchies to irresistible mouthfuls of heaven?

I contend that many programmatic media trading teams are mere popcorn button-pushers—tossing in the packet, inputting the time, and robotically hitting START.

Some occasionally forget to take the packet out of the wrapper.

Some fat-finger an extra zero, setting off a 50:00-minute popcorn-popping smoke bomb instead of the customary 5:00.

Some regularly serve all the popcorn during the last 5 minutes of the movie.

Most have no idea how the microwave actually works. And some don’t know that popcorn is…corn and could easily be convinced to pay extra for the gluten-free kind.

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