Last month I had the pleasure of moderating the Display Ecosystem panel (View the Video) at Rapleaf’s 2012 Personalization Summit. On my panel were experts from leading companies that represented numerous categories within the display landscape. Panelists included:
- Arjun Dev Arora – CEO/Founder, ReTargeter @arjundarora
- Key Compton – SVP Corporate Development, Clearspring @keycompton
- Tod Sacerdoti – CEO & Founder, BrightRoll @todsacerdoti
- Mark Zagorski – CEO, eXelate @markzexelate
Our discussion addressed many of the issues that we are grappling with in the Ad-Tech industry, including:
- Complexity: The challenges of planning, executing, measuring and optimizing display media are exacerbated by the complexity in our space. How can we reduce the cost and level of effort required via integration, prioritization, standards, etc.?
- Consolidation: What will the landscape look like in 2 years? Will there be more or fewer players? Where will consolidation take place? Who will be acquired and by whom?
- Effectiveness: What can the industry do to improve performance and effectiveness of advertising? How will better targeting, data-driven personalization, frequency management and 360 customer-centric approaches improve efficacy of online marketing?
- Accountability: Where are the gaps today, and how should we be measuring results, performance, ROI, etc?• Outlook for publishers, ad networks, DSPs and agencies. What must each do to survive / thrive in this hyper-competitive marketplace?
- Other issues: privacy, legislation, new platforms, etc. In order to fully realize the potential of display advertising (i.e. Google’s $200bn forecast) these will need to be addressed.
After our discussion, I thought about the implications for the Display Ad ecosystem, and for the Ad-Tech industry as a whole. Here are a few of my thoughts…
- No other industry is as innovative, adaptive and hyper-competitive as ad-tech. Where else can new niches evolve to multi-million dollar categories overnight with hundreds of startups raising billions in financing every year? We’ve all seen industries where startups disrupted an established ecosystem for a period of time. But where else does this happen over and over and over again? Our industry is all about disruption and it doesn’t take long for the challenger startups to become the established incumbents or targets.
- No other industry creates wealth like ad-tech. Where else can companies launch, raise capital and exit for hundreds of millions (or more) in less than 18 months? Where else are so many successful entrepreneurs (and their benevolent VC backers) rewarded with lifetime wealth for 1-3 years of work? It’s pretty amazing if you think about it… our modern day decade-long gold rush.
- Success in our industry requires mastery of several disciplines: marketing, technology and data science. You can’t be a world-class ad-tech company without expertise and experience in all 3 of these categories.
- While we are making progress as an industry, we still have so far to go. Despite the advances in targeting, real-time bidding dynamic creative optimization, analytics and optimization techniques, most media buying is still done the same way it was 5 years ago.
- There is still much confusion about how real-time exchanges work, and how they can be utilized by agencies and advertisers. When you overlay that with efforts to aggregate 1st party data, creating proprietary cookie pools and using that data to find new audiences, many marketers become quickly overwhelmed.
- We still have a scale problem that must be addressed. While there is a huge supply of impressions available for real time bidding, there are only so many unique audiences in the warehouses operated by the data providers. The more granular you get from a targeting standpoint, the smaller your reach wil be. Frequency capping is challenging, so you end up with hundreds or event thousands of impressions being served to a small pool of unique users.
- We still have a people problem. All the technology in the world won’t save us if we don’t have people trained to leverage these capabilities. We also need a deeper pool of managers and leaders who can bring operational excellence to a fledgling, always-evolving industry.
The wall mural below sums up the discussion – and made for a nice graphic snack for attendees.
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