Here, in six points, is what grabbed my attention for 2017, as a programmatic specialist in the Canadian market.
The conference started with a bang with strong statements from presenter Gary Vaynerchuk. He’s known for his straight talk, his entrepreneurial spirit, and for using web marketing to grow his family business exponentially. To summarize, he wants to see us refocus on business results, and stop hunting down new performance metrics that we leverage to make ourselves look good. We heard a very similar philosophy espoused by Scott Knoll, CEO of Integral Ad Science, who spoke on the same topic at another session. When an initiative works, it makes sense to continue it, but we also need to learn to stop when something isn’t working. A parallel can be drawn with the quote “content is king,” an imperative suggesting that brands should develop more and more content. It all needs to be connected to ROI. If promoting articles or blog posts doesn’t generate any sales, in the end, that’s probably not a very profitable avenue for you, in spite of the infamous quote. Regardless of your engagement metrics.
The same thing applies to attribution. Last touch attribution gives us an additional layer of information, but that’s not what makes sales go up. For example, buying branded keywords when you have no competition will increase paid conversions and lower conversions from organic traffic. Will increasing the number of sales attributed to paid ads equate to an increase in sales overall? Not necessarily!
Gary Vaynerchuk also mentioned that he considers Facebook ads to be the most under-valued inventory on the market right now. I’ve observed the same trend throughout the planning we’ve been doing at Adviso over the past few months. It’s highly visible, quality inventory in an environment where the user isn’t necessarily in a rush. It’s an ideal opportunity for storytelling using video that’s a bit longer than we’re used to promoting. On a related note, Rany Ng of Google commented that mobile video is continuing to grow, with mobile video views on YouTube even surpassing desktop.
Personally, I think that adapting the format and message to the medium is the key to video. With pre-roll videos we needed to focus on creating memorable short messages, whereas with native formats we can share a more complex stories. To come back to Gary Vaynerchuk, he also mentioned that promoting products through Instagram influencers is the second most under-valued inventory on the market. I get the impression that this is less true for Canadians in 2017, but it’s something to keep an eye out for.
Next, one of the themes that emerged again and again was the concept of unique IDs identifiable by DMPs. Robin Opie of Oracle, Venkat Achanta of Neustar, Brian Andersen of Luma and Chris O’Hara of Krux/Sale Force all encouraged companies to equip themselves with a DMP and start identifying users across all their devices. As a caveat though, none of them promised that this would happen before the end of the year. It’s a long-term process for companies and agencies, who need to rely more and more on data scientists to carry out these operations. This will be the year of testing and discovery.
In my opinion this is being adopted in Canada too, but more slowly. DMPs are costly tools that represent a relatively larger investment for companies operating on a Canadian scale than their American counterparts.
I attended a panel with the CEOs of the main companies specialized in fraud detection. Among them, I discovered that the focus of Integral Ad Science is very centered on business results, while Moat concentrates on capturing the attention of its users. White Ops, for its part, wants to complement the other players, concentrating more on identifying bots and fake clicks. In all cases, viewability, fraud, and inventory quality are the means to an end, and not the main objective when rolling out a campaign. These findings were corroborated by another panel made up of different trading desk representatives (Cadreon, Xaxis et Dentsu Aegis Network). These representatives confirmed that quality control is most manageable when you’re equipped with the right tools. It’s managed more as a facet of optimization, and less as a real danger to the industry.
Ari Lewine of Triple Lift and Patrick Keane of Sharethrough both shared their thoughts on native advertising. They predicted that spends would explode this year.
For years we’ve been hearing that the year ahead would be the year of mobile, and it’s time to start singing a different tune!
At the same time, native is the logical evolution of this affirmation, seeing as how it’s primarily meant for mobile. The idea is to adapt the format to improve the user experience. Native formats need to be standardized as far as image sizes and the length of messages are concerned. All the more because I expect that they will outperform other mobile creative. We should also see the appearance of private deals for native formats this year. In short, we want to reproduce the Facebook experience within our other applications.