Thank you to our expert panelists and attendees of the first annual Infinitive Digital BrainFest last week in Chantilly, Virginia.
True thought leadership and innovative insights were flowing in the intimate setting, and we like to think that a good deal of fun was had by all.
We’ve got complete highlights from the day’s events, but for now, we want to focus on some of the top takeaways we got from the Digital Ad Solutions track. With perspectives on publishers, convergence vs. divergence, technology and metrics, these are some of our favorite “A-ha!” moments from the day.
9 Digital Advertising Solutions Insights from Digital BrainFest 2012
1. Seller Plus Technologist
According to publishers, sales engineers who can speak the language of individual publishers, deeply understand their unique business objectives and cultures, and marry them to the right technology are the most valuable individuals on the teams of software firms.
This is such a successful concept that publishers are mimicking the “seller + ad technologist” paradigm in media sales. It’s a clear sign that the Mad Men days of closing deals over two-martini lunches are long gone.
2. Are We Seeing Convergence or Divergence?
Some claim that 2012 will be the year of media convergence. But in some ways the advertising landscape is becoming more divergent, as multiple channels and platforms continue to emerge. Agencies are demanding more integrated programs that include social, video, mobile, web and hyper-local elements.
Publishers need to recognize this new reality and shore up their technology, people and processes to deliver content and offerings as smoothly as possible across all these dimensions.
3. Tech Stack Tools
Whether we like it or not, Microsoft Excel is a critical tool in the digital publisher tech stack. Instead of trying to replace Excel (or hoping it will go away), technology and solution providers should make sure their tools integrate well with Excel (e.g., simple import and export capabilities).
That being said, publishers must also recognize that Excel is not an enterprise database and there are real risks of overreliance on Excel (given its lack of security, irregular updating, storage on personal drives, etc.).
4. Success in Ad Operations Is a Team Sport
Publishers and the software providers and the consultants they rely on must each do their part to deliver effective projects in a fast-moving and highly fragmented landscape.
5. Using Customers to Improve Product
According to software providers, the most demanding customers can be the most valuable in helping improve and expand product offerings. That’s a potentially valuable insight as technology evolves rapidly.
6. Bringing Together Process & Technology
In choosing between custom configurations or off-the-shelf deployments, it’s critical to always “ask why.” Just because software features work one way doesn’t mean the status quo is the optimal fit for a way a publisher works.
Conversely, examining processes closely may lead to opportunities for streamlining. Put another way, software should never be configured to support poorly designed processes.
7. Technology Fragmentation
Most industry stakeholders believe fragmentation in the industry is here to stay, even though widespread consolidation of vendors is likely in the next few years. To handle the continuing chaos, talent is the number one critical success factor.
Processes and technology will change, but organizations with a talented, passionate Ad Ops team, are more likely to meet and exceed their performance targets. Talent will be the most important element of navigating the evolving landscape and the difference maker between firms that thrive versus those that merely survive.
8. Metrics for Ad Ops Success
In terms of measuring success of advertising operations and supporting technology, most publishers don’t have formal performance measurement programs in place.
In fact, they apply a variety of quantitative and qualitative metrics – including increased revenue, adoption of new features, specific problems solved and the strength of relationships with their vendors and consultants. As technology matures and clear process best practices emerge, more objective criteria will emerge.
9. Publishers Have to Lead!
Agencies and advertisers will contribute their own requirements and business needs, but publishers have to step up in their own efforts to innovate and lead the way.
Thanks again to our excellent panelists for the Digital Ad Solutions track:
- Melissa Bertram, VP of Advertising Operations, Kelley Blue Book
- Tim Messier, Director of Audience Management, AutoTrader.com
- Bryan Moffett, VP of Digital Strategy, National Public Media
- Benjamin Reid, Independent Digital Media Consultant
- Vikram Somaya, VP of Global Operations & Audience, Thomson Reuters
- Tim Wolfe, VP of Ad Operations, Gannett Digital
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