Advertising Week Takeaways: 3 Important Narratives
Typically at Advertising Week, brands, platforms, agencies and publishers get an opportunity to go to parties and tout their wares. But this year in New York felt different. Issues that are fundamental to the future of the media and marketing ecosystem were front and center — and I think more so than usual.
Here are three narratives, in particular, that stood out to me.
Brands Want Transparency
Today’s brands face a growing number of options for how to deploy their digital ad budgets. This abundance is a beautiful thing, but it does create complexity. There has been an explosion in inventory, a boom in data, and rapid changes in the technology needed to manage it all.
For advertisers, the landscape can be challenging to navigate. That’s why companies like P&G and Unilever are calling for greater transparency in their ad buys. We saw this at Dmexco, and it remained a key theme this week in New York.
For years, the digital ecosystem has been built on walled gardens. Traditionally, agencies, publishers and vendors have existed in silos. At Advertising Week, however, we’re noticing a shift toward transparency in nearly every conversation.
It’s apparent even in the sessions; most meetings feature agency and brand representation, with brands participating more in understanding the supply chain and wanting to make sure they know exactly where their investments are going. We’re seeing more collaboration than in the past. That’s a very positive development.
Programmatic and Brand Safety Concerns
With a spotlight on transparency and brand safety, programmatic ad-buying has become an easy — albeit unfair — target. Many advertisers are concerned that their content might appear alongside offensive content. This was a hot topic at the show. And as seen with the Uber and Fetch lawsuit — as well as the YouTube debacle earlier this year — those concerns aren’t unwarranted. But programmatic is quickly evolving to improve here.
There is a rise in spend on programmatic direct, for example. Most striking, there’s greater collaboration between buyers, publishers and agencies to ensure quality-control measures are in place at the start of a campaign. Those tools have always existed on the vendor-side, but they’ve typically been underused. Advertising Week has been a real education and a catalyst here.
I also think it’s important to point out that programmatic is a windfall for publishers, so it’s not going anywhere. We saw this recently as BuzzFeed and Vox announced plans to embrace display.
Programmatic allows the publisher to focus on what they’re good at — publishing — while the technology takes care of the rest. One account manager can oversee hundreds of thousands of advertisers. You don’t have to pitch campaigns – you just put a block of code on your site. Tracking is baked in. And, unlike native, you get paid automatically in 30 to 60 days. No pleading necessary.
The Pivot to Video Makes Sense
Mashable, one of the first big publishers to announce that they were shifting their business towards digital video, saw a lot of chatter at Advertising Week, given its search for an acquirer. In the media industry, the “pivot to video” has become somewhat of a joke. I understand the criticism as it means traditional editorial jobs are unfortunately being cut. But for publishers, putting digital video at the center of their business model is a logical — and necessary — step.
Ian Cohen is EVP, Business Operations, at Los Angeles-based Brainjolt, a viral publisher that reaches half of the U.S. population and 300 million people worldwide every month. In his role, he’s responsible for all business operations, including strategic planning, revenue operations, financial planning, corporate and business development, and the implementation of Brainjolt’s growth initiatives, while driving overall operational excellence across the entire business.