Reflections on Advertising Week

I had an exciting opportunity to attend what was perhaps the most high-wattage, single-day assembly of data-driven marketers in history. On Tuesday at Advertising Week in Manhattan, Umbel had a booth in the Times Center for a day of panels and talks on digital, data, performance, attribution, and audience. Panelists included Execs from Forbes, NYT, Acxiom, Spotify, Buzzfeed, Mondelez, Rocketfuel, McCann, Federated Media, OpenX and Forrester. Other rooms during Advertising Week focused on video, business, creative, politics, etc.

A common complaint was that cookies and third-party data sources are unsuitable for targeting/segmentation and have undoubtedly contributed to compression in CPM over time. Opinion ranged from “cookies will die out eventually” to “cookies will persist as a lowest-common-denominator audience tool for a long time.” Neither of which puts much faith in it as a growing concern. Some panelists placed cookie accuracy as low as 50%. Buying audience is where everybody wants to go.

There is keen interest in solutions that focus on audience to either augment or replace what is currently offered.

Brands and agencies are not satisfied with current offerings and will continue to invest in DMPs and other buy-side technologies until (or unless) publishers catch up. There is no single source of truth that both advertisers and publishers can agree upon in terms of audience and performance, which unfortunately means that collaboration suffers and counterpart distrust is the norm.

Publishers continue struggling to effectively monetize mobile devices. Banner ads are not seen as suitable long-term mobile advertising formats. Nobody really has an answer for mobile and yet everybody understands that simply mapping traditional digital advertising concepts to mobile is not responsive to the potential in the platform. Cross-platform advertising sales deals often result in mobile impressions being heavily discounted to preserve traditional CPM revenues.

Automation is a very hot topic. Interestingly, everybody agrees that the state of programmatic is a huge mess and that completing an advertising transaction (from start to proposal to negotiation to insertion order) is a monumental task that wastes time and money. Nevertheless, dollars are increasingly moving towards programmatic, and it is hoped that the effects of increased attention on the various problems associated with it will bring scaling efficiencies in the long term.

Native advertising was on everyone’s mind, though the actual definition of native varied between panelists. People are optimistic that advertisers and publishers will continue to collaborate on quality content that creates a win-win-win scenario for advertisers, publishers and audiences alike. Large data providers (Acxiom, Epsilon, etc.) are looking to build the data foundations for native. Mark Howard at Forbes got particular kudos for the BrandVoice program and its considerable success in promoting and monetizing sponsored content.

We were proud to be involved in the day’s activities. Umbel’s audience-specific value proposition was completely aligned with the most relevant messages in the room. It’s exciting to be a part of this revolutionary shift in thinking about how audience is measured and monetized.

Read more about the action of Advertising Week.