IAB ALM: Forget 'Big,' We Just Want Data We Can Use

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IABALM Big Data Big DealMaybe the Interactive Advertising Bureau should have titled its Annual Leadership Meeting, "Data, Data Everywhere And Not A Terabyte To Think." This year's theme was how Big Data can complement or conflict with big advertising – i.e., creative ideas. The general takeaway was that yes, the two sides can inform and influence each other, but the industry still has a ways to go in matching brand thinking with programmatic tools. We asked a few executives on the second and final day to share some thoughts on what they talked about, heard and what they'll take with them on the way home or to the next meeting.

Susan Wojcicki, SVP, Advertising, Google

During her presentation, Wojcicki told the audience, "If mobile is not your primary focus, you're too late. We asked her what she meant by that. "What's happening is that you have trends in consumer technology and those trends grow exponentially. And anything that's growing exponentially is always hard to catch up to. Advertising needs to move as fast as consumers move. Users are moving fast and they've already moved into mobile. If you haven't caught them by now, you're going to be chasing them for a long time.

My best recommendation is to start thinking today about your mobile inventory, your mobile landing pages, your mobile advertising strategy. Advertisers like to wait until there's scale. But if they don't build the infrastructure now, they'll always be playing catch up."

Curt Hecht, Global Chief Revenue Officer, The Weather Company

"I think this notion of big ideas and Big Data is spot on. We're at a place right now where ideas and creativity are going to be central to building a business, building brands and engaging consumers. Consumer insight helps make all that happen. But at the same time, we've all been hearing about Big Data for over three years. We're at the point where the industry really needs some tangible examples and show what that means.

It also helps to understand what Big Data is not. It's not programmatic, but if you use it Big Data to do programmatic well. Nate Silver gave some good examples in his keynote on Sunday night. We like that he cited weather as an example where Big Data is useful, such as the ability to predict landfall for hurricanes. David Kenny and I worked hard yesterday to show we use data to connect to marketers and drive their sales volume.

Data is hard, the collecting it, the putting it into action. One trick I learned when I was [running Publicis Groupe's VivaKi Nerve Center] was that it all came down to getting clear requirements from the end user about their goals. If those requirements weren't clear, the data ended up being worthless.

The other thing with this event is that it's a great place to bring the community together and I'm going back with a long list of things to do."

Tim Cadogan, CEO, OpenX

"One thing about Big Data is that we should all be more interested in "useful data." I'm hoping we can edge our way toward that. And when I say "useful data," as opposed to Big Data, I'm talking about information that can be acted upon in a way that creates economic value. We can do our part, there's others who can help us in that. It's more than just DMPs. I was thinking about [Acxiom CEO] Scott Howe's talk about the importance of multi-varient data versus single-source data, that comes from areas that we in the digital world don't often think about – such as offline, in particular."

Mike Keriakos, President & Co-Founder, Everyday Health

"The IAB meeting was titled: Big Data and Big Ideas. We heard from Tim Armstrong, CEO of AOL; Michael Wolff former COO of MTV, a partner from Kleiner Perkins etc.

The theme that was very clear: we have entered an era where we are producing more data than ever before, and at faster and faster clips. Armstrong, for example, remarked that every second, AOL produces three times the amount of information that's in the Library of Congress.

Harnessing this information to meaningfully change the game is in the first inning. As an industry we will need very smart statisticians/analysts who can make sense of the data or risk getting lost in it. This makes a company’s chief data officer more crucial of a position than ever.

In general, I share Tim's POV. As an industry, we may be too focused on data and what happens behind the screen instead of the front of the screen. The real winners will focus on both. If you have all the data in the world on a consumer but you cannot engage them in a trusted environment where they want content and to interact, you're not going to get very far. Likewise, if you focus only on content, you will leave a lot of valuable information on the table.

I feel like the most important data which we, the online publishing/ad industry, need to share with brand advertisers to catalyze more brand dollars online is offline sales lift. Few companies have done more work on this than we have. Everyday Health has made a serious investment over the past three to four years studying how our online campaigns can lift offline sales. We work with companies like Crossix, Dunnhumby and comScore, and it is due to Everyday Health’s scale that we are able to make this program work for our advertisers. We have increased brand’s trust and desire to work with us, because we've been able to demonstrate that their Everyday Health campaigns can scale and drive offline results in the way that they used to only accomplish on TV. We were shocked three years ago to learn from Dunnhumby that we were the first online publisher to engage them in helping us understand our impact on offline sales."

Joshua Koran, SVP of Product Management, Turn

"One of the key topics for me was viewability. The town hall forum widened the recognition that different vendors produce vastly different results, which suggests that while we’ve come a long way, we still have a ways to go on creating a consistent standard. Other issues discussed with viewability include:

  • How this "after-the-serve-event" metric can be incorporated into "before-the-serve" real-time exchange transactions.
  • A recognition that the percent of served impressions that cannot be measured as viewable (e.g., due to iFrames) is far too high to use this as more than a directional metric.
  • That different ad formats (e.g., banners, video ads, rising stars) will need different standards

A second key topic was the desire on the part of publishers to gain access to advertisers' data. Acxiom CEO Scott Howe suggested that they can begin to earn similar margins as ad networks if they embrace audience-based targeting in addition to contextual targeting. If publishers overlay the advertiser’s first party data, they can charge the advertiser more and prevent the advertiser from paying only for the context."

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