Key Takeaways from Ad Week Europe 2018

by Phil Duffield

Posted on 03-22-2018

And in a flash, Ad Week Europe is over once more. We heard from some of the great­est minds in the adver­tis­ing com­mu­ni­ty, who chan­nelled their exper­tise to tack­le the industry’s most press­ing top­ics. This year, data was at the top of everyone’s minds.

It comes as lit­tle sur­prise. With AI tak­ing a strong­hold in mar­keters’ arse­nals, GDPR on the hori­zon, and tech com­pa­nies under increas­ing scruti­ny for how they’re han­dling cus­tomer infor­ma­tion, data has nev­er been a more per­ti­nent topic.

My Adobe col­leagues and I joined sev­er­al pan­els through­out the event, explor­ing top­ics such as the future of pro­gram­mat­ic adver­tis­ing, mea­sure­ment, AI inno­va­tions and brand safe­ty. We were all in agree­ment: tech­nol­o­gy has helped our indus­try to come so far, but there are many issues that must be solved before we tru­ly see the fullest poten­tial of what data brings to the table.

But how can these issues be over­come to realise the broad­est ben­e­fits of data while being sen­si­tive to the per­son it belongs to? We’ve pulled togeth­er our main out­takes from Ad Week Europe, and what these mean for the industry.

Qual­i­ty is in the eye of the beholder

Dig­i­tal has giv­en rise to an autonomous group of con­tent cre­ators, with YouTu­bers, blog­gers and social media stars gain­ing as much traction—if not more—than big bud­get films, estab­lished pub­li­ca­tions and celebrities.

It’s come to mean that we all find dif­fer­ent con­tent engaging—the qual­i­ty of the expe­ri­ence is in the eye of the behold­er. The same rings true for adver­tis­ing, and con­sumers have pre­ferred chan­nels, devices, and con­tent styles that they like to receive from brands. It means that a good adver­tis­ing expe­ri­ence is one that is per­son­alised to the customer’s pref­er­ences, and speaks to their values.

AI is key to giv­ing con­sumers the qual­i­ty ad expe­ri­ences they expect. By giv­ing rise to new data sets, pat­terns, and rela­tion­ships that mar­keters pre­vi­ous­ly had not antic­i­pat­ed, mar­keters no longer need to guess which adver­tis­ing cre­ative or con­tent will land—AI ensures that it will.

The data-enabled val­ue exchange

It’s not just about pro­vid­ing con­sumers with a tar­get­ed, per­son­alised ad cam­paign, it’s about know­ing when not to serve the ad, too. It’s the promise that we as mar­keters must uphold: if cus­tomers are shar­ing their data, mar­keters must treat it with respect, and find the bal­ance between cre­at­ing a per­son­alised expe­ri­ence, and one that goes too far.

In fact, noth­ing is shin­ing a light on this val­ue exchange quite like the upcom­ing GDPR, with brands risk­ing los­ing access to cus­tomer data if they don’t use it cor­rect­ly. It means that brands must ensure they’re doing all they can to respect not just how they use cus­tomer data to aid their objec­tives, but ensure that’s it’s safe­ly stored, encrypt­ed and processed, too.

New ways to tar­get, new ways to measure

While data under­pins a new wave of adver­tis­ing expe­ri­ences, mea­sur­ing these expe­ri­ences isn’t sim­ple. With a seem­ing­ly end­less num­ber of audi­ence seg­ments, devices and plat­forms, there’s an over­load of frag­ment­ed data, and even more met­rics to manage.

As we all know, mea­sure­ment is key for adver­tis­ers and agen­cies that want to know exact­ly how well their con­tent is per­form­ing. But with so many dif­fer­ent met­rics to man­age, it can be dif­fi­cult to relay analy­sis into a com­mon lan­guage that everyone—from dig­i­tal, to adver­tis­ing, to mar­ket­ing to sales teams—can make sense of.

To tack­le this head on, there’s a need for a uni­fied way to mea­sure dig­i­tal adver­tis­ing con­tent. If the indus­try can con­verge and mea­sure con­tent in the same way, it sim­pli­fies the adver­tis­ing process for brands, and allows them to test the waters with more plat­forms, whose met­rics can seam­less­ly blend with those that they’re already work­ing to.

It’s not all about tech

While tech­nolo­gies, plat­forms and data were heav­i­ly explored at the con­fer­ence, cre­ativ­i­ty plays an essen­tial role in the adver­tis­ing indus­try too.

Data enables mar­keters and adver­tis­ers to ensure that their cam­paign cre­ative is tar­get­ed to each user at scale, but the secret to good adver­tis­ing cam­paigns is that they all begin with a cre­ative, and fun­da­men­tal­ly human, idea.

The chal­lenge for brands today is find­ing the right bal­ance between the tech and the human ele­ment, let­ting them aug­ment one another’s roles, rather than replac­ing them.

Brand safe­ty in the adver­tis­ing ecosystem

The issue of brand safe­ty has been ongo­ing for a long time, and it doesn’t seem to be going away. In short, the cur­rent state of brand safe­ty is not a good advert for the adver­tis­ing industry.

Adver­tis­ers are still ques­tion­ing where their ad spend is going, which ads are work­ing, and how to refine their cam­paigns for next time. It’s a mas­sive prob­lem that the indus­try as a whole needs to solve.

Col­lab­o­ra­tion will be key to rec­ti­fy­ing this. Every sin­gle com­pa­ny in the sup­ply chain—from adver­tis­ers, ad tech com­pa­nies, aggre­ga­tors and publishers—must agree on the guide­lines to which they all hold each oth­er accountable.

Col­lab­o­ra­tion is key

Whether you attend­ed Ad Week Europe or you didn’t, the above themes are unlike­ly to come as a sur­prise. What stood out was that while the ad indus­try is large­ly in agree­ment that more must be done to solve them, there’s not enough col­lab­o­ra­tion tak­ing place to over­come these chal­lenges for good.

It’s not enough for the indus­try to con­gre­gate for Ad Week alone—it needs to be 24/7, 365 days a year. If par­ties across the entire sup­ply chain are able to agree on guide­lines for mea­sure­ment, brand safe­ty, and build­ing data-enabled—yet-respectful—relationships with cus­tomers, we may well see an entire­ly new top­ic tak­ing cen­tre stage at Ad Week Europe in years to come.

At Adobe, we’re doing all we can to ensure that brands, and agen­cies can pro­vide their cus­tomers with cre­ative, com­pelling, trust­ed, and safe expe­ri­ences that are worth shar­ing valu­able data for. And we’re all set for GDPR, too. You can find out about how we’re help­ing our cus­tomers to get com­pli­ant here.

In fact, we’ll be mak­ing a num­ber of announce­ments at Adobe US Sum­mit 2018 next week, which are set to help brands, agen­cies and enter­pris­es devel­op the data-enabled expe­ri­ences they’re pro­vid­ing their cus­tomers. You can find more on the Sum­mit line up here, or fol­low @AdobeExpCloud or #Adobe­Sum­mit for live updates.

Topics: Digital Transformation, AI, data, Experience Business, GDPR, UK, UK Exclusive, Digital EMEA