By Jessica Davies, News Editor

April 6, 2013 | 6 min read

Industry experts gathered at the Internet Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) Real Time Advertising event in London last week to enforce a few home truths about the real-time bidding market. The Drum has rounded up some of the key themes and main points from the event below.

Robert Webster, data and technology director for MediaCom

Webster stated his belief that the digital advertising ecosystem was not as complicated as some diagrams depict: "It really shouldn't be this complicated anymore, in fact it should be simple enough for a young child to draw," he added, explaining that ultimately it boils down to five categories: technology providers, buyers, sellers, data providers and brokers. "That is how the market must approach it," he claimed.

This reduction in complexity is vital to ensuring creatives and planners are on board because the RTA space cannot reach its full potential without the skills of both the automated machines and technology and the specific human skills of the planners and buyers. "We need the Don Drapers of the world to work in tandem with the automated machines," he added. He also advised advertisers to be very selective when it comes to picking a data provider partner, given the plethora of companies in the market. Advertisers must also ensure they are clear about what inventory they want but also what they do not want before using an exchange, he added.

Jag Duggal, vice president for Quantcast

Duggal railed against the industry's over-dependence on last-click attribution. He called it a "tragedy" that this poor method of attribution modelling was still widespread, and that it is undermining the ability to effectively retarget and is therefore jeopardising the real-time advertising market.

The majority (95 per cent) of clicks never convert but that despite that most marketers optimised to clicks and insist that clicks are a core metric, according to Duggal. "The demographic profiles of people who click and people who convert are completely different – in fact they are opposites. So basing attribution modelling around last click is causing campaigns to go where converters are not," he said.

Andrew Moore, managing director Europe of SpotXchange

Real-time advertising has traditionally been regarded as a useful tool for direct response marketing but it is becoming increasingly relevant for branding channels including video, according to Moore.

In order for real-time advertising to reach its full potential "we must ensure we are as meaningful to brand advertisers as we are to direct response ones as that is where the majority of spend lies. Brand advertisers want brand results," he added.

He said the majority of ad spend comes from brand advertisers, before claiming that in order to ensure Real-Time Advertising (RTA) does not become siloed, it should instead become a larger piece of the overall marketing mix and that the industry must work to ensure it appeals and is meaningful to brand advertisers not direct response ones alone.

"Although video has always been a branding channel there is an important place for it in the Real-Time Bidding (RTB) mix. Demand outweighs supply in the video space so there is a massive opportunity for publishers to become involved in programmatic publishing."

Real Media Group president Nicolle Pangis

Pangis claimed that there are currently 42 steps in a digital media ad transaction describing that as "inefficient" and stating that "we must do better to thrive."

She added: "If you are a publisher and putting 70 per cent of your inventory through an exchange in order to monetise it without retaining enough of the data insight yourself that is a major mistake." She stressed the importance of publishers leveraging RTB in a way that does not cannibalise direct sales, while ensuring the interests of the advertiser or agency are met. To help achieved this publishers must be "100 per cent" transparent about what inventory they are putting through an exchange.

Pierre Naggar, EU managing director of Turn

Naggar was keen to dispel certain myths that surround the RTA space. He agreed programmatic buying is no longer relevant for direct response alone but also for branding, while stating that the argument that inventory on exchanges is only ever low quality has become obsolete. "The rise of private exchanges has addressed this issue, providing a controlled environment, management of floor prices and access to premium inventory."

However, he admitted brand safety is still a barrier to investment in programmatic buying and exchanges must also focus on quality inventory rather than focusing only on scale."Anyone who says programmatic only works for direct response – that not true - it also can be useful for branding."

He called for premium publishers to work closer with exchanges with sales to share will be no cannibalisation: "Premium publishers have joined but more work needs to be done there to get the sales houses of the publishers to participate in the exchanges."

Martin Kelly, CEO and co-founder of Infectious Media

Kelly said the industry has developed a "funny obsession" with scale. "It’s all about how big people’s data is, he added. Although the importance of data in helping shape future marketing strategies is clear, there has not been enough of a revolution in the targeting space, with focus resting firmly on retargeting alone - which he described as "disappointing".

"The buying process is better but people aren’t seeing any difference in the advertising. Everyone in the middle is excited but advertisers aren't" he added. "That is the problem, we have amazingly powerful tech and buying methods but the ads are the same - so consumer experience is pretty much same."

For more information on real time advertising space look out for The Drum's forthcoming Digital Media supplement.