Programmatic Punch US 2019 wrap-up: data democratization and transformational leadership

Talking data at Programmatic Punch US 2019

A brief overview of the themes and some of the take aways from this year's Programmatic Punch adtech conference in New York.

An adtech revolution is coming. Marketers who think they’re ready for it risk getting blindsided if they don’t keep on top of industry changes. As Mike Tyson famously said: “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

Avoiding the left hook that disruptive innovation and ever-increasing regulations can deliver recently brought nearly 200 advertising, programmatic, and marketing executives to The Drum’s 2019 Programmatic Punch US in New York City. They were there to discuss everything from fast-changing trends and emerging technology to ad fraud and data privacy to in-housing and advanced TV.

Hyped-up industry savants — from organizations such as Accenture Interactive, Forrester, Gartner, Google, Luma Partners, News Corp, PayPal, Sourcepoint, and Spotify — took to a boxing ring for their sessions.

Round 1 was a panel on ad fraud, featuring Jay Benach, strategy lead at White Ops, and Per Bjorke, senior product manager at Google. They discussed the precipitous advancements in software used by fraudsters, specifically focusing on botnet 3ve, pronounced “Eve.” They discussed how the FBI worked with White Ops, Google and others to shut down the botnet in 2018 after it illegally generated between three and 12 billion ad bid requests at its peak.

“This bot was so convincing that many players in the adtech ecosystem were targeting them,” Benach said. “The bots didn’t just foist themselves onto the marketplace. The campaigns were targeted, and these bots were sufficiently rich with audience profile information to get purchased.” The fraudsters knew how long to have the bots watch, navigate and click on a video to fool it into triggering the payment mechanics.

“The bad guys pretty much know this business as well as we do,” Benach warned.

In Round 2, the conversation to looking forward, sharing predictions for the future of adtech.

“Having more holistic upper-funnel planning may come into play,” Selin Cebeci, global digital director at MediaCom, said during the session. “I think it will democratize the industry so that a small or medium-size company can play the branding game. That will bring more disrupters to the marketing environment, and that will challenge big brands.”

Spotify’s global head of automation sales, Julie Clark, highlighted one of the key opportunities that adtech presents.

“We've focused so much on data analytics, and we forget about the marketing part of it and the creative aspect of it,” Clark said. “I think there's a huge opportunity for us…” to work in unison with an advertising partner's creative team to develop impactful assets that can complement data-driven decisioning.

Round 3 delved further into the issues related to data collection and use. Minjae Ormes, CMO of digital telecom provider Visible, offered the perspective of an emerging company working diligently to use consumer data to the best effect in digital marketing. “We are a pretty new brand, so I would say everything we’re doing from a data perspective, particularly in programmatic, is all about learning about who we thought would be attracted by the offering that we have, and who’s actually coming over,” she said. “As much as the media platforms and channels will become the skill builders, right now for our business, it’s really about learning our audience.”

Data is critical to how advertisers navigate through this complicated marketplace, as well as to how they'll determine where to invest. So Round 5 focus on using data to understand viewers to determine where TV budgets going to be placed.

"We're seeing that more and more of our conversations are about... how do I deliver to reach the audience I need? The larger scale delivery is going to continue to be the core of any plan, but really it's changing dramatically to that one-to-one on how to reach your audience,” said Adam Lowy, chief commercial officer of Telaria.

Ormes and Lowy are the only ones focused on using data to choose the best path forward. In Round 8, panelists discussed the in-housing trend and determining whether it’s the right move. Chris De Souza, digital channel strategy, data and integration at PayPal, said: “For us, being a digital-native platform with digital at the heart of what we do, it was a natural next step.”

But it’s not for everyone. “In almost every case we’ve seen, it has to do with a transformational leader. You need someone in your senior marketing organization who can see that vision,” Mario Schiappacasse, head of programmatic media at Jellyfish, advised.

During Round 9, three chief executives talked about programmatic from that leadership perspective and how they see it changing mainstream marketing strategies — or not. Lisa Utzschneider, chief executive of Integral Ad Science, said she’s seeing a shift from audience-based targeting to contextual, premium inventory. “One of the things we focus on is brand safety,” she said, “and ensuring that ads that run in places like YouTube aren’t next to content that is questionable or violent.”

Dominic Joseph, the chief executive and co-founder of Captify, had a different viewpoint. “Brands, marketers, and agencies are still [taking] a data-driven approach,” he contended. “Good quality data is relatively sparse, but it’s not just about having good data; it’s about what you do with the data. I come from London, and we’ve been a part of the whole GDPR situation over the last few years, and there is no doubt that everyone still has a data-driven strategy.”

Programmatic Punch New York took place on June 6. If you missed out on this event, our UK variant will take place this December, find out more information here. Or, join us in New York for Programmatic Punch US 2020.

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