Live from Ad Week NYC: Adobe Think Tank Panelists Weigh the Power of Ad Tech to Deliver Measurable Results

by Keith Eadie

posted on 09-26-2017

Adobe brought together 10 of the industry’s top executives, thought leaders, and influencers for a special installment of our innovative Think Tank forum during Advertising Week, which kicked-off yesterday in New York City. Dubbed “The Future of Advertising,” the conversation included a spirited live stream roundtable discussion about how advertising technology is affecting brands, agencies, publishers, and technology companies, and how these constituents can influence the evolution of advertising.

During the wide-ranging Think Tank discussion, our panelists — who represented companies from National Geographic and USA Today to NBC Universal and MGM Resorts, provided keen insight into the future of advertising technology.

We explored how new opportunities are enabling companies to amplify their message via emerging technologies, such as automated advertising and data-driven creativity. We also talked about best practices for how marketers and advertisers can better assess ROI by using real-time data to measure campaign effectiveness in an ever-evolving digital landscape.

From an ad-tech perspective, the key takeaway is that data is the connecting thread for advancing automation, transparency, and measurement. The future of advertising is a world in which companies that put ad dollars into the marketplace will know, almost instantly, which media channels drive lift, and which don’t. The panel agreed that, at the end of the day, advertisers will need to harness that data to enhance customer experiences and engagement.

Growth in automation requires accurate data.
While automated advertising offers a high value for optimizing customer experiences, it is still evolving, and is dependent upon the adoption of digitally-integrated databases. As a group, the Think Tank experts predicted that, by 2022, 80 percent of all advertising will be driven by automation.

While the automation trend may not shift quite that quickly, the point is that technology is helping to facilitate the deployment of targeted advertising and customized content across all of the touchpoints in a customer’s journey. But the growth of automation depends upon being able to obtain more accurate data that connects ad spending with measurable results.

Automation brings a more efficient value chain.
A second important takeaway from Think Tank is that while automation is still evolving, it is already making the value chain more efficient. We’ve gone from an industry in which ad buys were planned on a quarterly basis, and measured on a monthly basis, to a world where planning, buying, insight, and optimization are all informed in real time.

As the Think Tank panel noted, the acceleration of cord-cutting by consumers is likely to fuel industry investments in even more automation. Ultimately, to leverage data at scale, marketers need automation to help glean insights from massive amounts of information.

Advertisers demand transparency.
In terms of transparency, the Think Tank panel noted that walled gardens — large media networks with troves of valuable data — have made it challenging to develop standards for measuring the effectiveness of digital advertising channels, due to their siloed position.

But the marketplace is already influencing the ability advertisers have to get better quality data from these walled gardens. For example, we’ve seen a few social platforms recently move toward facilitating third-party verification of advertising metrics. Looking ahead, market pressure could very well continue to help make more of that data openly accessible.

Transparency is critical for the industry because advertisers are already demonstrating a reluctance to make buys that don’t include verifiable engagement metrics. As the Think Tank panel noted, it’s important for marketers to be able to accurately measure their ROI. Once advertisers consolidate siloed data into one centralized database, they are in a better position to track, analyze, and measure their ad spending.

Artificial intelligence is the newest ad tech.
Brands want more than just delivery metrics — they want insight into customer engagement. Another prediction from the Think Tank panel was that, within the next five years, we’ll see a convergence of human insights with data science — better known as artificial intelligence, or AI — applied to advertising in a meaningful way.

The consensus of the group was that data is useless without human interaction. The challenge for marketers is to use automation to improve efficiency, while better leveraging human analysis to formulate strategy, and interpret how to best act on data-driven insights. The Think Tank panel agreed that we are moving toward a point at which those metrics will be widely available, in real time.

Advertising effectiveness determined by emotional insights.
Another trend that is continuing to influence ad tech is a shift from the use of demographic data to psychographic data in order to measure the effectiveness of advertising — not just in terms of user interactions with a brand, but also in the context of how it influences consumer emotions.

As the panel noted, it is becoming increasingly important to develop authentic creative content that resonates with audiences at a visceral level. The challenge is to develop meaningful content at every point in a customer journey. The ability to better measure outcomes at a granular level promises to help brands develop highly targeted ads that resonate with their existing, and potential customer base, and ultimately maximize business results.

Looking ahead, the future of advertising is going to be driven by customer-centric brand storytelling. The ultimate success of that content will hinge on an integrated data perspective that blends automation, transparency, and measurement.

There’s a lot more to learn from the Adobe Think Tank conversation. Watch the recorded discussion from Advertising Week NYC, and get ready to harness the power of advertising technology to improve your bottom line.

Join the conversation with my fellow #AdobeTT participants about using ad tech to improve personal and organizational effectiveness, and to build better relationships.