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.