IAB Leadership Meeting: Three Big Themes

| Industry + Media + Technology

Last week, I traveled to Phoenix, AZ for the annual IAB Leadership Meeting, a trip that consisted of three days of learning and networking with 850 peers in the industry on the publisher and ad tech side of the business. Three days of content is a lot. However there are three themes that I came away with that are relevant for brands, agencies and all those who serve them in 2013.

Theme #1: A Defined Direction for the IAB: It’s All about Brands
The IAB realizes (like Undertone) that the current state of digital can be improved. In fact, IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg asked if digital was entering the “dark ages” and offered a mocked-up version of a publisher site, with lots of ads and a confusing layout, as proof. The IAB is asking the industry for support in moving towards a more brand-friendly approach, complete with
an IAB version of the LUMA chart. While publishers and several ad tech companies I talked to were supportive of this vision, more than a few exchanges, DSPs and networks were not thrilled—and I am not surprised. A shift in focus from performance marketing to brand goals is going to be a big struggle for some companies in the space.

Theme #2: Big Data for Big Ideas
The theme of the conference was “Big Data, Big Ideas.” There were lots of presentations around data from all sides (marketer, publisher, tech), and in the discussions there were many definitions and frankly some confusion. There’s an overall feeling that this industry needs to move from talking about “Big Data” to using it to support brands beyond standard targeting and reporting. The basic infrastructure is there to target, optimize and report. The next step is to use data to tell stories, make research richer and insights more impactful and actionable.

Theme #3: The Custom/Programmatic Bifurcation
A split between custom and programmatic is clearly happening and was evidenced by mentions in various presentations. AOL’s Tim Armstrong admonished the industry for paying “too much attention to what goes on behind consumer’s screens than in front of it”. Debates around programmatic went well into the night, and there were multiple sessions devoted to native advertising. This theme is certainly top of mind for many publishers and I expect it to continue throughout 2013.

Eric Franchi

Eric Franchi is co-founder of Undertone and serves as senior vice president of business development, leading the company’s relationships with its most important partners. A respected industry leader, Eric has been featured in publications including Ad Age, Adweek and The Wall Street Journal, and on stages worldwide including IAB MIXX, Advertising Week and Cannes. He has held a place on the board of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) for several years, helping guide the digital advertising industry through a period of rapid growth and change.

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