Burt Intelligence at AdMonsters AdOps 2021
In October, Burt Intelligence participated in the AdMonsters AdOps conference, one of the most significant events of the ad-tech community held annually since 2010.
The running theme of Ops 2021 is ‘Clarity for a Complex Digital World.’ Being a premier sponsor, exhibitor, and main stage speaker, we were stoked about the conference theme as it aligned perfectly with the Burt Intelligence and Inventale mission of empowering ad ops professionals with a clear ad network performance view and actionable insights.
As usual, the event theme carried across a number of keynote and panel discussions, each centered around a related hot topic. Here are some of the key takeaways:
“Data & Identity”: building media business on cookieless terms
Cookie deprecation is a given, but what we do with it is still an open question, and the debate about how to respond is broad and seemingly endless. What is clear is that the industry’s future is privacy-centric and data-driven — which Burt Intelligence and Inventale are all for! — and that it brings disruption. Everyone will have to find a future-proof and scalable privacy-friendly alternative for targeting, measurement, and continuous tailored user experience.
The thing is, there is no alternative but to have more than one solution to cover all your requirements. There are a handful out there already. Universal IDs, emails, garden walls, cryptographic tokens, AI, clean rooms, and whatnot — the industry uses every asset to fill the void when cookies are finally eliminated. Given each media company has its own needs and use cases, they have to build their strategy vendor by vendor, like a jigsaw puzzle.
Continued evolution of government privacy regulation around the world and big tech’s shifting policies is a further factor to consider.
It’s a massive undertaking to not get lost among all those point solutions so publishers are advised to make significant investments in planning and mapping their identity solutions. They also need a reliable technical vendor that would deliver results despite the turmoil. In this context, Burt Intelligence and Inventale are ready to help customers respond given the flexibility of our analytics and the incredible range of data sources that can be seamlessly integrated into the platform.
The confluence of this disruption is clear — the industry is long due for a reset. And for a healthier industry, we need to act as a community: rediscover our needs and reassess the true value the data brings to every step and decision made, to our partnerships and products. And we also need to recognize the cost and implications of gathering data. This way, one can make privacy the cornerstone of their business models and find the means that suit them most.
“Programmania”: the state of programmatic
Programmatic advertising is at a perpetual crossroads. It seems, each year, there are talks about how this approach is counting its last days or that technology will fix all of its shortcomings once and for all. Yet programmatic is still in widespread use and there’s not a single indication of significant change in sight, with the exception of the now delayed elimination of cookies.
Attribution and measurement are two of the main concerns. While solving for the elimination of cookies is something everyone involved must do, it is even more important to think through strategies for a transitional period thoroughly. It’s one thing to operate in a binary “cookies/no cookies” setting, but how to respond when all options are available simultaneously?
Existing solutions with strict privacy policies, such as the Safari browser, can offer a glimpse of what’s to come. Analyzing them and extrapolating results is a helpful exercise for those who want to be prepared. Another step is A/B testing — a crucial way to gather data from real execution with near real-time measurement.
And as we anticipate drastic changes for existing tools and marketplaces, we can’t help but wonder whether there’s something else we could change to our benefit while we’re at it. A good starting point would be to step back and look at one’s network through the lenses of their business goals. Does programmatic advertising help your brand reach the intended audience? Are you able to monetize your media content effectively while also maintaining a positive user experience?
The answers are there in data generated by you and your network. To unearth the insights that matter, Burt Intelligence and Inventale can help you make the most informed decisions, find opportunities to grow revenue and operational performance, and realize which partnerships are worth keeping and which should be cut off.
“Ops Leadership”: redefining roles
Traditional separation between teams based on their “official role” clearly hampers orchestration and execution. This is especially true in the case of Ad Operations, which is not a separate role but rather a collection of roles, responsibilities, and insights that must all come together. The optimal approach is to think of these “workflows” as a part of a hybrid team and organize the work accordingly: align objectives and tasks to facilitate the horizontal and vertical exchange of knowledge and expertise.
There’s also another joint goal that can be tackled collaboratively to everybody’s benefit — brand safety. We are used to attributing this responsibility mainly to marketers; however, publishers also have brands they need to protect from malvertising, questionable creatives, and inaccurate data that can misconstrue results.
Sustaining brand safety should be a shared effort, and it’s not just about sifting out bad actors. The very concept of safe content has changed over the last two years, and it will change further on as new data policies enroll and new media channels emerge. As much as preparing for a “post-cookie world,” this has to be a primary focus for Ad Ops teams.
“Video & CTV”: overcoming trials and tribulations
Video is a tricky medium because it’s a relatively new channel, so there remains a lot of fluidity in how video is analyzed, measured, and managed. Legacy video media formats such as TV further complicate the challenge: should this be analyzed in the same way as new digital video formats and channels?
However, video also retains a low barrier to entry, resembling a playground in some ways, opening a whole different set of possibilities for publishers, advertisers, and marketers to test things out, make bold choices, derive lessons for traditional digital media, and even shape the industry’s future. For example, video and CTV are well suited to combining subscriptions and ad-supported content almost seamlessly, giving publishers more freedom to experiment with their business models.
At the same time, video requires a whole new stack of tools for proper attribution and measurement. Automation plays a huge part overall, with CTV benefiting from programmatic, header bidding, and artificial intelligence heavily. Managing video content-based media opens a unique viewpoint into issues, abilities, and opportunities of the ad-tech.
It also forces publishers to bring even more close attention to the user experience and content quality, which any media should strive to as it makes for better engagement, steady audience growth, appeal to advertisers, and ultimately, more revenue.
“Revenue & Product”: building a cohesive revenue strategy
They say you can only choose two between “good, cheap, and fast,” however, successful media do not compromise on this one. They try to find a way for their products to hit all three boxes.
One of such ways is to turn to your team. Take ad ops, for example. They implement content monetization strategies in the field, hence they possess vital insights and can input a lot in product development choices. Your team’s expertise has the potential to become a game-changer for your business.
Though when it comes to formulating privacy-safe strategies, you might also want to direct your attention outside. One way for publishers and marketers is to assume there are already no third-party cookies, consider what steps one would take, and communicate clearly how specific actions will impact both sides. Such a dialog may also reveal that the publisher acts as a service provider for marketers, offering them a ground to connect with the audience. So to maintain productive relationships, media platforms could adopt SaaS business approaches.
Clarity: what is needed to bring brightness to our future
Several discussions went out of the scope of the thematic panels noted above but were just as profound.
First, we’ve talked about building relationships with users, from how better user experience and content lead to better monetization to how relying on first-party data makes co-creation of content with your audience an even more beneficial approach. Enabling users to create content or providing experiential content and live experiences to them is a sure way to boost engagement rates. However, its worth extends beyond that. These approaches help gain trust, add value, and open a whole new viewpoint on what your product should look like.
Another important relationship is partnerships between vendors, agencies, marketers, and publishers. Sadly, tension and misunderstandings between parties have kept accumulating in recent years. Yet, fundamentally, these groups all share a common goal of developing and improving open and free internet, making the best digital products, and pushing the industry forward. By collaboration and cooperations, we can help each other in this noble cause.
“Insights that bring clarity” was the theme of the keynote session led by Alex Calic, CRO at Burt Intelligence together with Christian Garcy, Strategic Planning Senior Director at Major League Baseball, and Isabel Diaz, Senior Manager, Digital Ad Operations at Match Media Group.
Year after year, conference attendees bring up the importance of content quality and UX, hardships of navigating through the technological mess, trust issues spread all the way through the chain, and fighting malvertisers. That means we still don’t quite know what to do with all those issues.
Until recently, the general belief was that data was the key which explains the craze of collecting all the data under one’s reach. However, at Burt Intelligence and Inventale, we argue that simply gathering data was never enough. The data is useless until it navigates your decisions. That’s why you should seek ways to track how it reflects the status quo shifts and respond accordingly.
In that way, not every dashboard will help. Ad-tech people need a reliable and intelligent automated aide embodying the data-driven approach to augment and bring true clarity into our decision-making.
In digital advertising, the sheer amount of processes, actors, interconnections, and information produced every second is unfathomable, so we shoved them into black boxes to deal with all that, and now it’s even harder to see causations and predict results of one’s actions without an understanding of algorithms’ inner workings which we don’t have by definition.
Cryptic algorithmic computations should be translated into a clear action guide for specialists. New technologies should be designed and constructed with people in mind. And to build a useful service, clear communication between partners is crucial. That’s why events like AdMonsters AdOps are needed more than ever now: they are a perfect ground for sharing perspectives and insights that matter.