The Roundup: AdExchanger’s Programmatic IO

Therran Oliphant - Product Marketing, Data Business - @therran

Programmatic IO, AdExchanger’s flagship event, is arguably the most influential programmatic advertising conference in our industry. This year, there were three major themes: programmatic storytelling, ad blocking and cross-device activation.

Below are my big takeaways through the lens of those topics.

Programmatic Storytelling

Programmatic storytelling is something like the rabbit at the greyhound track. No matter how hard the dogs chase it, the elusive animal of exigence keeps running. Fortunately, the tide is turning. There is a groundswell of interest from brands that are moving out of skeptical test phase and into innovation, with programmatic. This will drive the capability and, eventually, we’ll get you, you rascally rabbit.

The Opportunity:

  • Recognition. The mere fact that brands are recognizing stories can be told on digital devices will move the industry forward as innovation prepares to meet the challenge.

  • Brand Development. The opportunity for creating a two-way conversation with devices can further develop brands more than ever expected.

  • Creative. The formats and expertise on the multitude of platforms is at an inflection point where quality creative can now be developed and implemented.

The Challenge:

  • Value. There is complexity in activating the whole chain to create storytelling value on connected devices.

  • Fear. Brands have traditionally feared not owning the whole conversation. They’ll have to move beyond this fear to progress.

  • Expertise. Building immersive experiences on so many formats (many of them nascent) will take time and practice.

Ad Blocking

There’s been a big rise in downloads for ad blockers as of late. This was a big point of contention throughout the day. Some think ad blocking is a non-issue, while others see it as a premiere problem. The truth, per usual, likely lies somewhere in the middle.

The Opportunity:

  • Education. In this case, consumers deserve to understand the online ad community’s business model. An educated consumer is a partner, not a mark.

  • Stories. The only thing that will bring dissonant audiences back is a positive ad experience through personalized, quality creative and storytelling.

  • Data. Now that there are groups of ad blockers, we can figure out what groups resonate  in higher concentrations and act on that knowledge.

The Challenge:

  • Skeptical public. Some damage has been done. A misstep in education could cause further damage and distance with already leery consumers. We must inform the public of true consumer benefits.

  • Audiences. The difficulty in telling stories come from the many requirements to do so – development cost, copywriting and data implementation, among many others.

  • Data Sharing. Behavioral data on this group is inherently tough to attain, so pulling out insight may not be a straightforward process. It will take time and a keen focus on maintaining privacy.

Cross-device Activation

Cross-device activation was mentioned during every single networking break, panel and speech this year. It reminded me of the word ‘mobile’ in 2013. Marketers, advertisers and data providers have all come to the realization that the explosion in device usage will affect both of the two themes mentioned above – and everything else in advertising.

We’re excited about this development, here at Tapad, as we’ve been trumpeting this horn for more than 5 years. In many ways, we’re already helping our customers and data partners achieve these goals. It’s great to see the industry at large recognize the opportunities listed below.

The Opportunity:

  • Relevance. A huge area for improvement is is finding the right device, at the right time and right audience to be most relevant.

  • Efficiency. Brand campaigns have a massive opportunity to add media efficiency as a KPI. It can join reach, frequency and good storytelling as the drivers of brand success.

  • Understanding. Marketing should focus on consumers, not their devices. A cross-device view gives a complete consumer picture, resulting in the proper data inputs for marketers to improve the conversation.

The Challenge:

  • Clarity. Cross-device data activation is complex, and while many tech providers are bringing on data, it takes experience and expertise to provide real value here.

  • Inefficiency. Misappropriating data and/or building cross-device implementations improperly can cause as much inefficiency as it has the opportunity to provide efficiency.

  • Networks. Without the proper partners, consumer understanding (and the ability to act on it) will be limited because no one company has every piece of insight. Applying strong partnerships in an open ecosystem are the only way to make cross-device activation work.

My other takeaways, in short, are that programmatic advertising is entering adolescence and needs to start growing up and taking life seriously. Publishers can no longer afford to allow tech companies to innovate and follow. Open ecosystems produce better more ubiquitous data, thus improved experiences for consumers. The opportunity to improve our relationship with the consumer still exists. We just can’t fumble the ball by not being open, honest and transparent.

Overall, a great event, of which I’ll continue to take part.

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