Programmatic, real-time and talent: What we learned at Advertising Week

celtra_logo_updated-black-(1)smallThis is an installment in a series exploring Advertising Week. This series is sponsored by Celtra, provider of the first cross-screen HTML5 technology for brand advertising.


Advertising Week has begun, kicking off four days of hand-wringing and prognosticating on the future of media and advertising. Digiday reporters squeezed into the event’s overcrowded Midtown halls and gleaned insights on the media landscape today. Here they are:

Programmatic TV won’t explode in 2015
The folks on the forefront of programmatic don’t expect automated media buying to become the norm for most linear television inventory any time soon, even as buyers and sellers familiarize themselves with programmatic tactics. Joseph Abruzzo, evp and chief exploration officer at Havas, thinks around 3 percent of TV inventory will be sold programmatically next year, compared to less than 1 percent this year. (That’s still hundreds of millions of dollars, he was sure to note.)

Kris Magel, chief investment officer at Initiative U.S., thinks “a reasonable number is definitely below 5 percent.”

What’s holding programmatic TV back, they said, is a lack of trusted data that brands, agencies and media partners can all access. “When it comes to striking a deal, you need to understand the cost proposals across one deal or another,” said Magel. “And right now, the data source that has all that information is not available to everybody.”

Trust still matters
The distribution and business models for online news may be changing, but trust and credibility still matter. Hence sites like Mashable hiring veteran journalistic stalwarts like Jim Roberts. “You have to build trust with the reader,” Mashable founder Pete Cashmore said during a panel called “What is Newsworthy?”

That said, delivering the news online today requires a different skill set from the past. Greg Coleman, president of BuzzFeed, said at his former employer The Huffington Post, “If you were a great writer and lousy at social sharing, you were out.”

Reports of the banner’s death are exaggerated
Video is becoming the ad format of choice for advertisers on mobile. Advertisers want a way to tell a story that can’t be done in a banner ad. But advertisers have to be careful about trying consumers’ tolerance for pre-roll video. Too much pre-roll video advertising is still running too long. And the advent of wearables holds out promise for call-to-action ads, as long as the screen is big enough.

But the banner is too ingrained as a monetization vehicle to be written off just yet. “I do see the evolution of social video and video on mobile taking reliance on the banner to a new low,” said Brian Blummer, svp of monetization, Keek, speaking on a panel, “Masters of Monetization: Mobile.” “I wouldn’t call it a death of, but I would call it a bridge to a new evolution.”

Don’t underestimate importance of talent
Having the right talent is the most important key to successfully navigating a media company in today’s fast-changing environment. Media CEOs said they spent a surprising amount of time dealing with human resource issues and that their biggest mistakes came down to a failure to manage and to make personnel changes quickly enough.

Justin Smith, chief of Bloomberg Media, said that companies should pay more attention to human resources, given talent’s importance to organizations. “HR departments are still seen as less strategic,” he said. “I think they should be the closest advisers to the CEO. That means thinking about that role in a very different way.”

Real-time marketing is here to stay
If Apple’s #bendgate taught us anything, it’s that big brands are still sold on real-time marketing. Heck, there was even feverish brand activity on Beyonce’s birthday.

But while real-time marketing can prove to be an invaluable asset toward building a brand, many end up doing more self-harm than good. The key is to mix it up with a dose of preparedness as well as spontaneity — and know when to stop.

“The problem is when brands exhaust consumers by pushing too many posts on trending topics,” Chris Kerns, the director of analytics and research at Spredfast, said at the “Be Bold, Be Engaging, or Be Gone: The Importance of Real-Time Marketing” panel.

“Just because something is trending doesn’t mean you jump on it,” corroborated Nancy Hill, president and CEO of the 4A’s, speaking at the panel on “How to Build an Influential Brand.”

Brands are still becoming content creators
The “Brands and the Art of Content Creation” panel featured representatives from Johnson & Johnson, Anheuser Busch and American Express, companies that have aced content creation on their own — and gave advice to those looking to follow suit.

“It’s not about luck, it’s about planning and orchestration — viral videos do not exist,” said Lucas Herscovici, vp of consumer connections at Anheuser Busch InBev North America, discussing about the popular puppy-pony commercial from this year’s Super Bowl.

“Brands should think of themselves not as storytellers but storybuilders,” Amy Pascal, director of digital marketing strategy at Johnson & Johnson said, talking about the success of Clean & Clear’s recent #Seetherealme campaign. “We plant seeds of content and let our community build on it.”

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