6 Key Takeaways from Ad:Tech London about Advertising Technologies

Ad:tech London was a great opportunity to showcase how the Argus Labs real-time moment detection and audience profiling can help with audience segmentation, and in which ways our data can supplement existing display prospecting, programmatic and mobile marketing solutions.

The conference also offered plenty of new and refreshed knowledge about the state of mobile marketing and the newest digital advertising techniques and technologies. These are my six major takeaways from Ad:Tech about advertising technology, gladly shared with you.


1. Programmatic is the automation of media buying, but not necessarily RTB

According to a MagnaGlobal forecast, nearly 90% of US advertising will be bought programmatically by 2017, up from about 50% this year. Impressive numbers, even if there is no universal agreement on what ‘programmatic’ means.

Although I love the non-descript IAB definition, “programmatic trading remains a confusing mix of three letter acronyms, a swarm of potential solutions and a lurking fear that it’s going to put buyers and sellers out of a job,” I settled for the Micah Adler (CEO Fiksu) definition:

Programmatic is an automated process for making and executing on inventory placement decisions while incorporating closed-loop feedback.

What about Real Time Bidding (RTB) then? Whilst programmatic the automation of digital media buying that encompasses all inventory, RTB is a sub of that, a type of programmatic buying which initially capitalised on unsold inventory.



2. There is room in the adtech ecosystem for focused – and trusted – specialists

“None of us is as good as all of us,” BBH’s Ben Fennell said on connected specialism. As the lines in the advertising ecosystem – ad exchanges, agencies, DSPs, fraud detection, … – are blurring, there is opportunity in (re)focusing and concentrating on trustworthy integration and cooperation. “Working together is key,” Caspar Schlickum (CEO Xaxis) said.

At the same time, trust is major challenge as well. Lack of transparency was an often mentioned , as programmatic is increasingly creating trust issues between agencies and their clients.

The blurring of the lines is also occurring within agencies. In that respect, Sir Martin Sorrell predicted the fusion of CMO, CTO and CIO roles.



3. Agencies vs In-house: Agencies are at an advantage

Due to the lack of transparency, companies want to move away from agencies, and bring the programmatic buying in-house. However, this requires a big investment timewise, moneywise and in people. Agencies thus have a head start, and are still at an advantage as it comes to combining different channels as well.

Great advise for brands from the ‘Reducing Complexity in Programmatic’ panel:

  1. Start NOW, and work with an agency. In the meanwhile..
  2. Figure out your data strategy!



4. To avoid ‘random acts of data’, have a data strategy

Personalisation is a different kind of conversation than the ones we are broadcasting now. A kind that does not only involve new media types, but that will also require new parts of your company to take part – bringng with them the data they hold.

Embrace experiments, allow customers to interact with their data and remember that you are doing it ‘with & for’ the customer, not ‘at & to’. To avoid “random acts of data”, and to connect the multiple experiments and department-data-islands, you need a data orchestrator of sorts and road map.



5. ‘Free services’ are still a good value proposition for the consumer

As it comes to privacy, ‘value for data’ is an often-used phrase. For the advertising industry, what should that value be? The fusing of content and context knowledge can make ads more useful and fun. However, most agree that consumers are still satisfied with free services in exchange for data (and ads). They appreciate the high-quality low-cost content made possible by advertising.

This is demonstrated in a recent DAA survey, where 58 percent of about a thousand Americans said they preferred free, ad-supported apps to those that required some form of payment, either at download or in-app.

Do not neglect to be proactive about privacy concerns. Nearly five-to-one expressed they prefer seeing mobile ads relevant to their interests, yet 65 percent stated they would be more comfortable receiving relevant mobile ads if the companies providing them followed some privacy principles.



6. Programmatic is a “data game”, not a “savings game”

As programmatic was initially about getting rid of unsold ad space, it is perceived by many advertisers as a way to buy inventory cheap. Schlickhum pointed out that value added tech does not come for free: “Better targeting needs better data, and this can mean a higher cost.”

A thought echoed by Bonin Bough (Mendelez), who stated that “at the end of the day, programmatic is a not ‘saving game’, but a ‘data game’.”


A final takeaway, rather relevant to us, was that nobody seems to agree on the definition of ‘context’ either. There are a few things context – in an advertising context – can mean.

Context can refer to the surroundings of the ad space itself, the website content and keywords on the page. Context is also frequently used to refer to the location of the user when receiving the ad, and occasionally the weather there as well.

And then there is our concept of ‘context’, that goes beyond place and ‘climatological circumstances’ and represents a sensor-based automatically adjusting assessment of your environment, mindset and broad circumstances. We got to speak with a lot of interesting marketing and advertising experts at ad:tech. I’m hoping some of you will take that home: that there’s plenty more to context than location and the chance of rain.

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