Adland: what’s hot and what’s not

Experts at Media 360 shared their programmatic woes and their wishlists for the future with Campaign and Xandr

The Grand Hotel in Brighton was once again a hive of activity for digital marketers with the return of Media 360 on 24-25 May. Adtech specialists Xandr hosted the first-ever live episode of Ad Tech Room 101, giving an expert panel the opportunity to lock away their least favourite parts of programmatic – forever.

Host for the day was Karan Singh, head of advertiser partnerships, who was joined by Ross Sergeant, global head of media and touchpoints at Asahi Europe & International; Emily Roberts, digital and programmatic senior associate at PwC and co-founder of the Women in Programmatic Network; and Jayesh Rajdev, controller of advertising at ITV. 

The curse of KPIs 
Discussing the barriers for marketers looking to optimise adtech, Sergeant opted to shut away campaigns with 95 different KPIs, saying, "In the end, you can't tell if you hit the metric you were really interested in. But you have some vanity metrics that aren't relevant but will help someone present the campaign to their boss.”

He added, "I'd also get rid of last-click attribution. You know that there are probably 280 factors outside that last click that you should consider. On the other hand, if you do take them into account and don't properly manage how you do that, the last click could wind up looking like it counts for nothing."

With new formats and channels, and privacy and identity changes, measurement has been top-of-mind for marketers. But things aren’t all bad. "We're seeing brands getting much more sophisticated in measuring across the whole funnel," said Rajdev. "Even if the outcomes are two years down the line, they are getting much better at understanding the impact of marketing across all channels.”

When jargon jarrs

Roberts went on to nominate adtech jargon for Room 101, citing the complexity and confusion this causes as the reason it needs to go away forever. "There are so many words to describe the open marketplace – it's so complicated,” she said. “Most other industries have one word to describe one thing. In programmatic, being overly complicated has benefited people in the sector. Now, we need to simplify."

Rajdev highlighted the PwC and ISBA report of 2019, which found the "unknown delta", or unattributed factors that swallow the client's money without being of any clear benefit. "If you have an unknown delta in your media spend, what are you doing about it?" he asked.

"The scrutiny has to be on working media and eyeballs if you're going to drive the outcomes that you are looking for in an increasingly tough climate. In 2022, unknown delta has to go in Room 101."

For his second nomination, Rajdev chose the sheer volume of definitions for connected TV advertising (CTV), saying: ''You might be serving into a CTV device, providing data to inform that. But serving inventory into the device does not legitimise your position as a broadcaster.

''YouTube did a piece of work recently that said that 85% of people who watch YouTube on their connected device see it as TV. I went to my CTV device just two weeks ago to watch YouTube to find out how to unblock the filter on my fridge. That is not TV. Advertisers need more clarity over this.”

Keep it simple
To nobody's surprise, when it was time for the audience vote, the lack of clear KPIs, lack of attribution, jargon, loose rules within programmatic, and the lack of transparency and generic definitions of CTV all went into Room 101. 

In conversation with other attendees, it was clear that many programmatic marketers wanted tech experts to simplify technology, or at least the way they explain it to the general marketer. And to keep in focus the primary role of programmatic capabilities, which is to help marketers serve the right ads to the right people at the right time in the customer journey, using this to improve the advertising experience for all consumers. 

As the digital marketing industry continues to evolve, the upcoming Cannes Lions event provides another opportunity for us all to discuss what we could put into our own Ad Tech Room 101 – and perhaps drive things forward to make real changes.