Four Key Takeaways from AdWeek New York

NYC’s Advertising Week 2017 wrapped up on Friday after more than 100,000 leaders from the advertising, marketing, media and creative worlds spent five days debating, discussing and predicting the current and future state of the industry.

From topical daytime panel discussions and evening networking events, to late-night parties where the more “direct” conversations took place, Advertising Week was a full-on celebration of the economic and social impact of the evolving industry. Topics such as the importance of diversity, data-driven advertising, the future of adtech, and the influence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR), give a taste of the broad spectrum of subjects covered throughout the event.

Here are a few of the key messages for digital advertising that emerged from last week’s event:

Quality content can combat ad blocking

Keith Weed, Chief Marketing Officer at Unilever, shared his thoughts on the contentious topic of ad blocking, stating “600 million people have installed ad blockers because a rubbish experience will indeed move people away from your advertising.”   He offered a simple alternative, suggesting the industry can earn trust and attention by developing quality content that audiences seek out, and by giving users a great experience.

Programmatic is entering a powerful phase

Programmatic – or automation – was front and center of many presentations and conversations throughout the week, whether they involved well-established creative agencies and holding companies, or young start-ups and digital agencies. Despite current challenges of transparency, attribution, and brand safety, programmatic was firmly in the spotlight and earned more than its fair share of air time.

The sports analogies used to describe the current phase of programmatic included the third inning of a nine-inning baseball game or the start of the second half of a soccer match, but whatever your preferred sport it’s clear programmatic still has plenty of growing room.

In the session, ‘The Next Era of Programmatic’, Keith Eadie, VP at Adobe stated, “the way people consume media today is dramatically different than it was five years ago and it will be dramatically different five years from today.” He suggested advertisers already compete using programmatic and believes the technology gives them an edge to connect with consumers.  Without it, they’re stuck advertising in Times Square or on TV. Programmatic still has a long way to go, but even in its current form it avoids upsetting users with a poor experience.

Trust and transparency are more than just talk

Trust and transparency were the two most widely discussed AdWeek topics, each forming the subject of six different sessions, not to mention countless conversations at the bar. Buyers increasingly want to understand what is happening with each transaction. They want to know where their dollars go, what the tech taxes amount to, and whether they can trust programmatic.

Some tech providers have been committed to supply chain integrity from the outset, but since the very public position rightly taken this year by a handful of the world’s largest advertisers – including P&G, Unilever and AT&T – the entire industry is motivated to restore trust in programmatic. Brands, agencies and publishers are beginning to see the clear and quantifiable economic benefits a transparent digital supply chain can drive for all parties. Brands are looking for guidance from their DSPs, agencies and tech providers, while agencies and publishers are committing to work with technology partners who care about transparency.  Everyone involved in the transaction must play their part in addressing trust and transparency concerns.

AI has arrived and will only get smarter

Several AdWeek sessions and experiential set ups discussed the promise of AI, along with the ability to do real-time analysis and drive personalization in a way that continually learns. AI-powered voice-enabled search will change the way we shop, search, and engage because ads will be far more tailored to consumers and therefore more effective. The overarching sentiment was AI is here now, will only get smarter, and will undoubtedly shape the future of programmatic.

Despite the variety of topics covered during the week, one thread remained strong. We should never lose sight of the user experience, and all industry developments should strive to enhance that experience. Every aspect of consumer lives is becoming connected, and the future of programmatic is to join up these different pieces with a push toward cross channel execution and measurement.  As we look ahead I believe programmatic will be the only way brands do advertising.

Also Read: Why Video Makes Sense for B2B Marketers

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