IAB US Ad Ops Summit

Chris Williams recently attended IAB US Ad Ops summit in NY; here is his update.
All points of view are not necessarily those of Chris William’s.

Quentin George is someone to really pay attention to. He gave a very thoughtful precise and insightful view of the programmatic trend. Here’s my quick notes.

“Programmatic buying is supposed to achieve three things” says Quentin George of Unbound, “discover the audience, agree on price and optimize the decision”. It’s a magic kingdom in perception but the reality is much different. It should never be used to just to make a bad buying decision faster and cheaper.

Part of the problem is that publishers don’t know the value of their inventory as well as some of the bidders. Instead of uncovering this value all programmatic has done is moved the arbitrage opportunity from the ad networks further along the buying chain. Publishers need to control the audience data and “de-average” the inventory value. Quentin made the analogy of stocks moving into electronic trading with the resulting 4 outcomes: amount of trades go up, bid/ask spread goes down, transaction costs goes way down and market size/value goes up.

As programmatic changes the way we trade potentially we will deal with the amount of waste that affects all media. In the meantime we are seeing a migration from a focus on pages to people eventually leading to measuring attention. However one problem is the way all media is measured. Add up all the measured media and it is greater than the amount worked or slept; that makes no sense. The implication is that marketers will focus more heavily on transactional signals to understand the value of their media.

In summary; Quentin pushed for the need to differentiate content experiences through programmatic and decision trees, to put the message in the proper context and sequence the experience properly over time.

Mike Smith of Hearst told us their pricing and selling strategy where premium programmatic competes directly with managed sales. He identified some work-arounds to managing situations where programmatic pricing becomes higher than managed contracts so that both deliver in full. Additionally the same tricks can be used to deliver “value add” and “make good” campaigns where the price is zero. He was emphatic that there should be a premium paid by agencies and advertisers to get access to the premium programmatic inventory before it moves over to public programmatic.

I was lucky enough to be sitting with Chris Meija of IAB US who knows more about technical side of the internet than anyone I know. Plus at one time he met Wayne Gretzky which he knows is important to Canadians. Chris introduced me to George Ivie of the MRC before George took the stage to give the most detailed and methodical summary of what is happening with viewable impressions. In short, the MRC is nearly done but there are number of reasons why there are discrepancies in the numbers from the vendors. I won’t get into them however the point is he expects the MRC to finish up by the end of the year and then start the reconciliation amongst vendors part which will take a few months. So early 2014 expect to MRC to lift their advisory on transacting on viewable impressions. Then what? Over to the buy and sell side to sort it out.

Here are the videos of the day.