The importance of context

Once again, AdExchanger gathered data-driven marketers in San Francisco for the USA’s largest conference on programmatic advertising. Our Head of Sales, Steve Broadhead and Head of Demand, Craig Smith, attended the event to get on top of the latest trends in the industry.
We trawled through the many talks to find the three big trends defining this year’s Prog I/O.

Data

The event took place in the shadow of Mark Zuckerberg’s congress testimonial, where he vouched to work with lawmakers to create tech regulations. Among the halls, there was no escaping the topic of data privacy!

On stage, Mark Rabkin from Facebook provided a glimpse into the future of the platform, which he says will be much more oriented towards data security. Several steps have already been taken to ensure no repeat of the Cambridge Analytica debacle, and promises were made to better educate users on how their business model works.

Marketers and publishers have been desperate to learn if the fiasco has had a tangible effect on consumers. It’s become clear that the average internet user doesn’t understand how data is being collected, propagated and used: “The ads world and data world are crashing into the real world”, stated Rabkin. There is, therefore, a clear need to educate users and increase awareness of how online advertising works. The implications of this fall beyond Facebook’s remit and anyone in the adtech space should be considering the public impact of our work.

 

Moving away from the issues of data security, Eric Leist from OwnerIQ discussed transparency, drawing attention to one particularly interesting finding – “Advertisers waste more of their ad spend on the inaccuracy of their data segments than they do on ad fraud” (research by Nico Neumann, Assistant Professor, Melbourne Business School).

He went as far as to say that data transparency can become a competitive advantage, with marketers being excited to spend more on ensuring it. It’s another example of how quality is becoming more and more important in the ever-expanding online ad business.

 

GDPR

As we close in on the May 25 GDPR deadline, everyone emphasizes the need to get processes in place. Consensus at the event suggested that it’s important to start somewhere and demonstrate willing, as those waiting to see what happens will be too late.

Even though still expected to stick around, the viability of third-party data is questionable. The need to have it ‘curated’ was emphasized, along with ensuring its origin is known and recorded.

“GDPR is seen as an opportunity to innovate, especially for publishers”, said Fatima Khan, Chief Privacy Officer, Demandbase.

 

Artificial Intelligence

The buzz with AI continues. According to research from Conductor, 34% of marketers feel unprepared for AI; which shows a clear sign that it’s just the beginning. AI empowers marketers to better understand, reason, predict and recognize opportunities, however many still feel overwhelmed by these capabilities and don’t know how to properly apply the technology to their business.

At Prog I/O, IBM Watson suggested to mix and match various AI features in order to be able to competitively leverage it. On the other hand, Quentin George, from Unbound, stated the importance of defining specific business problems before venturing into AI solutions. Finding a designated solution to your problem, rather than holistic ones, he suggests, is the best way to approach it.

 

Conclusion

While on the face of it there was a diversity of topics discussed, it was clear to those attending that they all came down to how we deal with data. Whether it’s protecting internet users’ privacy or feeding data to machines, we must be careful to treat data with respect. At the same time, the possibilities of how advertising can thrive from the knowledge that digital platforms give us are endless. The scope of Adexchanger’s flagship event has grown well beyond its programmatic namesake to the extent that data-driven advertising is now mainstream news.

Whatever the future holds, we’re excited to see the next chapter.