adexchangerIn addition to the iMedia Breakthrough Summit last week, I also attended AdExchanger’s Programmatic IO event in NYC. This was a big affair with over 1100 attendees representing a variety of AdTech Agencies, Brands and various Advisors in some shape or form.  I was only available to attend day two, but I wanted to share my takeaways including data, programmatic TV and Watson – all quite large subjects in their own right.

No surprise, a consistent theme because there’s just so much of it. But how (and can) we maximize its use (I’m looking at you FCC) and who owns what? Also, the ever-important, how do we generate ROI from it? In short, the market is now getting more sophisticated with data, and the targeting capabilities and insights this generates is coming together, especially using the programmatic pipes.  However, the flip side is that while some brands are highly sophisticated – others are just plain scared whether they have any – and whether they can provide value. The you add in the concern as to whether that can make their data available to programmatic partners without feeling they are giving it away.  We know there is value in there them data hills. The industry needs more maturity before there is a consistent and standard way to leverage all the key data points we have available.

Programmatic TV
Turner Broadcasting boldly presented their new audience targeting solution for linear TV buyers and stated how improved understanding of their audiences provides greater value for their TV buyers. This enables them to get ever closer to a Programmatic TV based solution – buying each individual with a simple advertising message.  Forrester believes we are several years away from Programmatic TV due to the fundamental infrastructure that exists and formal way of measuring buying – currently Gross Rating Points (GRPs) (and what does that really mean anyway?) It would appear that each TV network is becoming their own walled garden with differing views of audience measurement. Until the industry aligns, this will continue to be a challenge.  So, perhaps the old school long lunches of media buyers and guaranteed upfront deals a year in advance are still here for the foreseeable future!

Watson – AI and Cognitive Thinking
IBM’s recent hiring of Bob Lord (ex-AOL and digital agency background) was insightful. Lord’s views were that with so much data being generated, the human brain cannot deal with it. More specifically, he reckons we can only compute and utilize 20% of the data we see, leaving 80% not being understood or used. This is where Watson kicks in. Watson is so clever and fast that it can digest and provide insights on the 100% of data. IBM wants Watson to be an embedded layer surrounding the ad tech ecosystem, providing speedy data insights enabling real-time intelligence to both buyers and sellers. Based on how well Watson did on Jeopardy, I sense Lord and Watson could be on to something here.  Oh, and Lord also mentioned that IBM wouldn’t be buying many ad tech platforms soon.  I tend to think otherwise.  Owning one and then deploying Watson would be the biggest proof point of them all. In fact, if it lives up to its hype, then that platform could blow the likes of Facebook and Google right out of the water. Time will tell.