Advertisers’ Biggest Misconceptions About Silicon Valley’s Two Giants

Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Jared Belsky, president at 360i.

Coming fresh off my latest trip to Palo Alto visiting with tech powerhouses and the C-suite of one of my favorite clients, I’m feeling energized, empowered and flush with ideas about where advertising is going.

More importantly, though, I’ve gained some needed clarity around the industry’s biggest misconceptions about the valley’s two giants.

1. Google and Facebook are not “publishers,” they are machine-learning algorithms. 

In our industry, we tend to refer to and think of Facebook and Google as publishers. It’s an industry habit perhaps based on legacy, but wow, is that wrong. It’s very clear that machine learning (ML) is front and center in their talk tracks. It’s the guiding force behind their product development and their feed advancements.

Google is touting its new ML-based photo search app while Facebook’s algorithm continuously ensures that you are seeing only products Facebook deems useful to you. For agencies (and brands) to get the most from these entities, they will have to evolve their own understanding of machine learning.

Brands must realize that these mega-repositories of data can help them solve business problems, not just advertising problems, but can only do so if they have the right people in place to help shape that thinking internally. Marketers and agencies alike need data scientists (not folks who are just good at Excel) who have machine learning backgrounds and who can understand these algorithms or even improve on them.

2. Video and voice will rule, but only if we understand they are not “channels.”

Video and voice are not “channels,” but rather sea changes in consumer behavior. Seventy-eight percent of data usage will be video by 2021 and 50% of searches will be through voice. All the major players, beyond just Facebook and Google, including Amazon, Apple and AT&T, have put a serious investment behind voice and video; nearly all have a stake in the game.

Brands and agencies need to acknowledge that video and voice are not just another “digital thing” to master like programmatic has been. Where programmatic is essentially nothing more than an efficient delivery system, video and voice are revolutionary. They require you to think differently about your owned assets, store experience and just about everything else.

3. In digital media, we are heading for a “post-click” world.

I left the valley even more certain that the best advertisers will be those who measure on a lifetime value (LTV) and long-term basis versus short-term metrics, such as a click, install or even a sale, which rule the media landscape today. All of the best ad products on Google, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and beyond are not geared to be measured on a same-session, click-based outcome.

If you consider upcoming ad opportunities in Oculus or Google Home, neither will be well-tracked on a post-click mentality. Soon, new measurement schema that focus more on full LTV will replace the short-term comfort of the click. The smart money here is that single sign-on tracking will allow us to better connect dots, even as those dots grow in volume and complexity.

If my trip translated into anything, it’s that we all need to start letting go of our safety blankets from the last 10 years. New waves of disruption are upon us, and many of the industry’s hot topics – platforms as publishers, everything is digital, post-click measurement – won’t be with us much longer, at least not in their current forms. Both agencies and marketers need to keep challenging our perceptions, if we want to stay ahead.

Follow Jared Belsky (@jabelsky), 360i (@360i) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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