Last week concluded the first edition of ad:tech 2018 in New Delhi, India. This year's digital marketing conference featured inspiring keynotes, spotlight sessions, workshops and close to a hundred exhibitors and speakers.
I spent most of my time juggling between sessions and conversing with exhibitors, many of whom included our partners as well.
Five key themes echoed throughout the event:
- How customer experience continues to take center stage
- How artificial intelligence and machine learning is transforming the ad tech industry
- How ad fraud continues to be a challenge plaguing the industry
- How and why attribution is becoming even more important
- Challenges and best practices in programmatic adoption
Keeping Customer Experience at Center Stage
Ad tech is one of the industries that has been completely swept with newer technologies. Several of the keynote sessions -- including the ones from Atin Kulkarni of Pepsico, David Shing of Oath and Eldad Maniv of Taboola -- reiterated the fact that marketers need to keep the customer as the center point and think about improving experience with the help of technology.
Advances in technology and the options available should be considered as complements to and not as replacements for customer experience. The panel discussion on engagement by content from brands featuring VIVO, Firstcry, Dailyhunt and Shemaroo reiterated the fact that good content automatically pulls customers towards brands.
Artificial Intelligence: Fact or Fad?
Today is the era of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Most industries are discussing the potential impact and benefits. A few years back, the advertising industry made the transition from mad-men to math-men.
Ad tech is perhaps one of the earliest adopters of big data and analytics. However, many of the speakers opined that we are still in the beginning stages and need to go a long way to achieve the benefits of true artificial intelligence capabilities. Some of the sessions that I found useful included retail case studies showcasing the likes of Philips, Max Life Insurance and Nykaa.
Tackling Ad Fraud
Ad blocking and ad fraud are two challenges facing marketers in today's ad tech space. It was an eye opener to learn about the types of ad fraud invented day-by-day and the amount of loss the industry incurs because of it.
Sessions focused on ad fraud included types of ads, how the industry is tackling them, and ad fraud and its affect on attribution and more.
Attribution: The Secret Sauce to Optimized Media
This topic was perhaps closest to my heart in discussions that I had with other conference attendees or during the sessions. It was interesting to see how brands across verticals are trying out various attribution models and how some are pioneering multi-touch attribution.
Many sessions reiterated that adopting a multi-touch attribution model is important to understand the customer journey holistically as well as use media budgets effectively.
Getting the Programmatic Code Right
Programmatic has been a buzzword in the ad tech industry for a few years now. At the conference, a track was dedicated to programmatic advertising and how to get it right. The sessions ranged from tackling transparency to advances in programmatic stacks to best practices and case study showcases.
In a session titled, “It’s About Time! A Guaranteed Opportunity In Programmatic Advertising,” BCG Project Leader Thomas Hosking and Nielsen Lead - Smartphone Solutions Prithvi Raj described their research into how DoubleClick’s Programmatic Guaranteed drives efficiencies in RTB.
Google worked with Nielsen and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to quantify the benefits of consolidating two media buying approaches: direct to publisher and programmatic auction buying. The results showed that “buying media with a single tool enables marketers to reach more unique users—for the same investment in impressions—and saves time.”
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