Revolution in the making: How advertising will be reshaped in the next 40 years

By Andy Oakes | MD and Founder

June 17, 2014 | 4 min read

The Drum's head of content Andy Oakes interviews tech giant Jag Duggal, SVP of product at Quantcast, about the changing shape of the modern advertising industry.

140 meters above London streets at the top of CentrePoint, Jag Duggal states the idea that we are “four years into what will be a 40-year revolution of how media is bought and sold”. Duggal is no stranger to the world of media revolutions; however, he is careful to point out that not every revolution takes off.

“When I started at Google my remit was ‘build AdWords for radio’…which was not a great success." Duggal moved on from Google’s early foray into radio to head the digital strategy team following Google’s acquisitions of YouTube (2006 for $1.65bn) and DoubleClick (2007 for $3.1bn). His mission was to “transform the way advertising worked”. Duggal speaks of wanting to make display advertising as efficient as search advertising, which a few short years ago had offered advertisers, for the first time, a way to target to consumers based on intent, rather than audience segments.

Now SVP of product at Quantcast, his mission has clearly shifted as he speaks about wanting to increase brands’ trust in programmatic. Duggal refers to a Larry Page quote from his time at Google that a “well-targeted ad is information”, which is where the industry needs to get to in order for advertising online to be accepted. Jag also points out that publishers, vendors, brands and technologies all have a role to play in shaping the programmatic industry: “We have to create the future we want to see, collectively." Currently we’re still seeing too many vendors aggressively retargeting; “bomb them with ads until they buy your product” is a tactic that is seen all too often.

However, Duggal is keen to point out that there is a better way; brands can “measure their campaigns more effectively by not just measuring the last touch. This would mean a more equal distribution of credit for a sale, incentivising vendors who find new customers and do not just chase existing visitors. This approach is “not only good for a vendor, advertiser or agency, but good for the entire industry and will address the 70 per cent lack of trust”.

When asked what the future of programmatic looks like, attribution, viewability, brand safety and cross platform are top of mind for Duggal. With regard to viewability and brand safety, he says: “Back in 2008 we should have paid more attention to the quality of inventory, not just the quantity and how it was being made available”. He refers to the fact that today “programmatic is too often thought of as this remnant place; [however,] we need to make sure programmatic is seen as the revolution in technology that it is, a key area to find quality inventory and targeting not just about efficiency but about effectiveness”.

When it comes to cross platform, Duggal is keen to point out that the industry needs to shift away from cookies and audiences and towards “sorting out who is a person and managing creative and targeting to that person”. Jag goes on to talk about the “unprecedented amount of news, media and entertainment available because of the internet”. He makes a point that is all too often forgotten that “consumers have made it clear that they do not want to pay for this content”. The only way to be able to continue to provide internet users with free content is to have a “value exchange", he says. That is to say that in order for online content to remain free of charge, publishers have sought to fund this content creation through advertising, not through charging users.

Duggal lays out a challenge for publishers: “Now that we have technology that can tell us which ads can be seen and which cannot, we can make ads viewable and effective”; so publishers need to restructure their websites for programmatic advertising to be effective, not just remnant inventory. Publishers need to be deeply involved in ensuring their websites are optimized to take advantage of this powerful new technology and not simply user programmatic for remnant inventory – ad space left over once the premium slots have been sold.

Concluding the discussion about the future of programmatic, Duggal comments that in a world where content remains free of charge, “to make the economics work, [the] advertising needs to be effective” and there is the real challenge for the industry, which we’re collectively responsible for.


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