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Blockchain and Adtech: First Things First

October 4, 2018 — by MediaMath0

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This byline by Underscore CLT President Isaac Lidsky originally appears on MarTechSeries.

Let’s not get way out ahead of ourselves.

Yes, blockchain will solve many of digital marketing’s longstanding structural challenges. Far better, it will usher in a new wave of innovation. Publishers, marketers and their customers will benefit greatly, with more meaningful interactions that engender trust and loyalty—and produce better results at lower cost.

But first things first.

The mere availability of better technology does not yield the will to adopt better business models that leverage that technology. Quite the contrary, prominent wrinkles emerge whenever technology forces an industry to consider “better.” Better for whom? Better how? Better when? To be extreme about it: those who perpetrate fraud will resist technology that detects fraud. To be less dramatic: innovation is as much threat as it is an opportunity, and it’s often unclear initially which is which.

Here we arrive at a chicken-and-egg problem: Do we blame the internet’s legacy “pipes” for the opacity, complexity and intolerable friction in digital marketing? Or do we blame entrenched interests in the industry for failing to deliver something better?

Either way or both, ours is an industry that has tended to meet intermediation and complexity with more intermediaries and greater complexity. The result is, unsurprisingly, a mess.

Far too often, there is a disconnect between (1) value provided and (2) cost.

A disconnect because thorny, practical realities can impose economic risk or other challenges. A disconnect because pricing models can obfuscate practical realities (with good intentions or bad). A disconnect because obfuscation is an invitation to exploitation—”where there’s mystery, there’s money,” as the saying goes. A disconnect because some deliver too little, charge too much or both.

A disconnect because most ad impressions these days involve numerous companies, and as the circle widens, complexity grows exponentially, and with it the number and extent of…disconnects.

The business of digital marketing is a bizarre poker game in which some folks cheat, everyone bluffs and neither the number of players nor their identities is necessarily known to all the contestants. As advertised, it’s a mess.

Now we have blockchain to help clean up the game, but it has entered the poker room at an awkward time. We’re mid-hand, towering stacks of chips around the table, many players deeply invested in the status quo and champing for another deal.

“I’ve got a great idea,” says blockchain. “Let’s turn up the lights all the way, identify ourselves, flip over our cards and play everything straight. The chips are far more valuable if we work together—let’s divvy them up ‘fairly.’”

Because blockchain is the anointed harbinger-du-jour of transparency—in business practices, economics, functional value, etc.—the poker players are expected to celebrate the suggestion. Make the pie bigger instead of fighting for a bigger slice? Everyone must love that idea. Force out all the bad actors? You’ve gotta want it bad unless you’re one of them (and you’re not, of course). Put down your cards mid-hand and (truly) partner with your committed opponents in a new, as-yet-undefined endeavor? In the name of transparency, we demand an enthusiastic “yes!”

We’ve not been disappointed; the lip service is impeccable. From all corners of the industry, we hear the cry of “blockchain!” Now the buzziest of buzzwords, the message is clear: it’s here and it’s happening, so even if you don’t understand it, don’t believe it or don’t want it, you’d better pretend that you do. There’s a lot of pretending going on.

We know better. In actuality, the thieves lurking in the corners are wondering whether they should run away, cop to their cons, protest their innocence, cook up new hustles, work the old ones a few more times before the curtain falls or all of the above.

Many of the players simply want to keep playing the game they showed up for—or at the very least, to finish the current hand!

Those with the biggest stacks of chips aren’t too excited about redistribution, and those with dwindling stacks are similarly reluctant to let any of their chips go. And yes, bluffing is part of the game. But if you play well, you’re rarely caught doing it. It’s one thing to be suspected in general and another thing entirely to be caught red-handed deal after deal.

Blockchain will not be universally embraced anytime soon. Its adoption is an existential threat for some, a temporary crisis for others, a strategic dilemma for most and a complex reordering of business relationships for everyone. It’s this challenge—the business implications of the technology—that we now confront. We miss the forest for the trees if we see blockchain as a technology. It’s not; it’s a momentous opportunity to improve the way business is done.

  • Are you willing to change the way you do business?
  • Are you willing to carefully confront the real-world practicalities and complexities that have led to this moment—to understand how they’re accommodated today and ask how blockchain can help us do better tomorrow?
  • Are you willing to expose to your customers how you charge, for what, when and why? Are you willing to show your cards, stop playing poker and start rebuilding the industry?
  • Are your partners, vendors, clients, and competitors willing to join you?

Blockchain has already given us magical technological achievements to celebrate, and there will be many more, in our industry and others. But first things first: are you really ready to use it?

IntelligenceTrends

Delivering on the Promise to Re-Architect Programmatic Advertising: MediaMath and IBM Watson Marketing Announce Media Optimizer, a New Solution Connecting AdTech and MarTech and Infusing “AI Everywhere”

October 2, 2018 — by MediaMath0

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A year ago, MediaMath Founder and CEO Joe Zawadzki and IBM Chief Digital Officer Bob Lord stood on stage at DMEXCO and painted a picture of the future of marketing. The vision they laid out would solve many long-standing challenges that have prevented marketers from unlocking the full potential of brand engagement, and help them deliver marketing that customers would truly love. Those hurdles ranged from poorly-constructed, 20-year-old plumbing built on technology like pixels and redirects, to clunky workflows and siloed data, which have hampered the industry’s ability to delight consumers with fully personalized advertising. On that stage, the two companies committed to join forces to reshape the advertising industry by connecting paid and owned media into a single view of the end-to-end customer journey using AI-powered marketing technology.

It was a tall order, but over the last year, IBM Watson Marketing and MediaMath have made significant progress—and we have results to share. Together we have pooled our industry insight, data science expertise and software development prowess to build competitive offerings leveraging technologies across Artificial Intelligence and Cloud Infrastructure that are already delivering tangible marketing outcomes.

For the last 11 years, MediaMath has been pioneering technology innovations to connect marketers and consumers more effectively, promoting transparency and preserving trust with measurable, meaningful experiences that are responsive to consumer needs and wants. We are proud to call IBM Watson Marketing a partner in this endeavor, and today we’re excited to provide an update on what we’ve been up to.

Coming Soon: IBM Media Optimizer

Together we combine an open platform—purpose-built for marketers and powered by Watson intelligence—with scaled, brand-safe inventory, exclusive data and industry-leading training and support. Our joint technology enables marketers to reach the audiences they want, with the right messages at optimal times, with the scale they need to achieve the business outcomes they desire. In early pilots, campaigns are experiencing, on average, over 35 percent improved performance and 70 percent increased win rates.* These are real results, enjoyed by real marketers like you. Improved consumer experiences and programmatic marketing operations. Better decisions. Competitive advantage. Bottom-line results.

A bit more about what we’re actually building (learn more during IBM Watson Marketing and MediaMath Advertising Week New York presentations throughout this week):

  • IBM Media Optimizer, Powered by MediaMath: We’ve connected the MediaMath TerminalOne platform to provide a combined DSP and DMP that works seamlessly with the Watson Marketing stack. This is a complete AdTech-plus-MarTech solution, which includes these features:
    • Intelligent Bidder: Infused with Watson intelligence, Intelligent Bidder allows marketers to prioritize an endless range of unstructured attributes, from sentiment analysis to weather patterns, to optimize campaigns.
    • Universal Behavior Exchange (UBX): UBX is the component that enables bi-directional audience and event data transfer between Watson Marketing products and MediaMath’s DSP/DMP platform, creating a unified user identity across AdTech and MarTech solutions.

And that’s just the beginning. There’s so much more to come. Visit with IBM Watson Marketing and MediaMath at Advertising Week New York where we’ll present more details around these exciting updates. Sign up for ongoing updates at www.mediamath.com/ibm. Thank you for joining us on this journey.

IBM Watson Marketing and MediaMath. Imagine that.

* Source: IBM Watson Customer Engagement 2018

DataIntelligenceTrends

What Does the Future Look Like for Programmatic Ads?

August 10, 2018 — by MediaMath0

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This interview with MediaMath Managing Director, International, Dave Reed originally appears on TechHQ. Read the full article here. 

As marketers globally are looking to deliver more consumer-first, relevant and meaningful marketing experiences, data-driven marketing (using programmatic technology) has risen in prominence.

According to eMarketer’s programmatic forecast, more than US$65 billion will be spent on programmatic digital display advertising by 2020. This significant momentum is due to the technology’s rich audience-targeting abilities, benefiting businesses of all sizes.

In an exclusive interview with TechHQ, MediaMath’s Managing Director – International, Dave Reed explains the opportunity that programmatic ads offer to businesses and the how AI and other emerging technologies can transform the industry.

As consumers become better connected, the volume of available audience data swells at a phenomenal rate.

Businesses, including small to medium-sized ones, now realize that they are sitting on a wealth of insights and the potential to unlock and generate more value from their marketing efforts.

Just because a business is small does not mean they are not collecting a large amount of data through their customer relationship management (CRM), website interactions, emails and more.

By activating consumer insights through programmatic ads, businesses will be able to understand who their best customers are, what their paths to purchase look like and what messages are most relevant to these customers along the way.

This way, they are offered a holistic view of their audiences and will be able to effectively engage the customer with the relevant content, at the right time.

“AI’s impact on programmatic will be huge. It will change how we analyze and act upon data, it will change jobs, and it will change how we talk to consumers,” exclaimed Reed.

According to Constellation Research, by 2025, businesses across all sectors will spend more than US$100 billion per year on Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies, a huge leap from a mere $2 billion in 2015.

AI and machine learning are fundamental to programmatic and have been central to MediaMath’s own offerings since inception.

In fact, AI will soon move from being a “nice-to-have” capability to a “have-to-have” one for making sense of the vast amount of data being generated across touchpoints and extracting actionable insights from it quicker than any human could.

But it’s not just AI that will transform programmatic ads. The industry itself is rapidly evolving, and experimenting with new and engaging media formats and technologies.

IntelligencePeopleTrends

Dentsu Aegis Group’s Seiler Ponders Real-Time Creative, Evolving Technologies

July 2, 2018 — by MediaMath0

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Beet.tv interviewed Matt Seiler, president, brand solutions at Dentsu Aegis Network’ at Cannes. An excerpt is below. To watch the rest of our Beet.tv series on consumer-first marketing, visit this page

There was no shortage of talk about data at the recent Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. But beyond the purpose of targeting people who are actually relevant to particular brands, “when you get to the right people, what happens?” asks Dentsu Aegis Network’s Matt Seiler.

In this interview with Beet.TV at the Festival, Seiler talks about the speed needed to deliver creative in real time and the utility of such technologies as artificial intelligence, artificial reality, virtual reality and blockchain.

On the issue of speed, there’s some catch-up needed between desire and reality, according to Seiler.

“Once you’re at the right person, what do you want to say to them and how much can you change that up to ensure that you’re getting the right message to the right person in…real time. And I pause on real time, because I think we as an industry talk about real time as if it were now and it’s way too big a lag,” says Seiler, who is President of Brand Solutions. “So I suspect that the accountability will get to individual behaviors and as close to the time that you wanted to solicit that behavior as possible.”

He believes that artificial intelligence has “been around kind of forever, but calling it AI has changed our perception of it. I think there’s an insecurity around machine learning that makes us think that people are going to become obsolete, and that obviously isn’t the case.”

To Seiler, machines should do things “that people are wasting an awful lot of time doing themselves” so that they are freed up to be much more creative. “It should be much more around the story rather than the technology that’s required in order to develop and or distribute that story,” Seiler says. “AI I think is going to be really helpful and really disruptive at the same time, because there are going to be jobs that are displaced by it, as there should be.”

IntelligencePeopleTrends

Artificial Experiences from Human Intelligence

June 25, 2018 — by Allie Roda0

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This article originally appeared in Campaign. Read the full-length article here.

AI improves human marketing decisions and capabilities – it’s “simply software married to math” said MediaMath’s CEO, Joe Zawadzki – but AI can’t succeed without guidance. As much as we are “training AI to think like a human” (so said IBM Watson’s VP offering management and strategy Mark Simpson), it still needs the human touch.

So what are its capabilities – and why are humans still needed?

Ticketmaster’s vice president of direct marketing, Jen Zick, explained that AI is able to digest huge volumes of audience data to help Ticketmaster and introduce true fans to the events that are most likely to interested them. Similarly, Perez Vite from Sony said that it helps “know individual customers more deeply” to deliver the best music to the best people at the best time.

Brands personalising offers based on past behaviours and purchases is one thing – AI is good at segmenting audiences to help brands appear to talk to individuals. But Zick said that marketers should now ask how to introduce disruption to ensure they are truly pleasing, engaging and converting customers. Zawadzki said marketers should think about AI in terms of automating creative, producing countless iterations of a creative idea to have more personal conversations.

IntelligenceTrends

How Marketers Can Start Integrating AI in Their Work

June 7, 2018 — by MediaMath0

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This article originally appears in Harvard Business Review as a byline by our CMO/CSO Dan Rosenberg. 

According to Constellation Research, businesses across all sectors will spend more than $100 billion per year on Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies by 2025, up from a mere $2 billion in 2015. The marketing industry will be no exception.

AI holds great promise for making marketing more intelligent, efficient, consumer-friendly, and, ultimately, more effective. Perhaps more pointedly, though, AI will soon move from being a “nice-to-have” capability to a “have-to-have.” AI is simply a requirement for making sense of the vast arrays of data — both structured and unstructured — being generated from an explosion of digital touchpoints to extract actionable insights at speeds no human could ever replicate in order to deliver the personalized service consumers now demand.

Interestingly, in many cases, the sophistication of AI technologies has already advanced further and faster than most marketers’ ability to actually make use of them. On the one hand, there are the technical challenges of gathering and normalizing data inputs — the act of making different types of data comparable — connecting them to a unified view of the customer, and then aligning the AI-driven decisions to real-world actions. On the other hand, there are also real philosophical, ethical, or at least policy decisions to be made on the value exchange between marketers and consumers when data is shared and used to optimize marketing experiences.

The good news is that, as an industry, we are starting to see meaningful progress on both fronts. For businesses looking to keep pace with innovation and leverage AI, there are steps they can take today. But first, what are some examples of how AI can help make marketing more effective?

Read the rest of the article here

IntelligenceMedia

Identity and Measurement: What is Next for Mobile and Omnichannel Advertising?

June 5, 2018 — by Floriana Nicastro0

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No matter how many times an advertiser hears that they must run on mobile to reach their audiences, if they can’t measure the output of their investment, it’s a lost cause. In fact, many advertisers are refusing to invest another dime in mobile until the industry finds a common ground to solve for mobile measurement at scale to help quantify real mobile ROI.

The gap between advertiser spend and user time spent

More than 62 percent of user time online is spent on mobile. But a big part of that time seems unable to be monetized; the gap between advertising investment and user behavior still represents a $7 billion opportunity according to Mary Meeker’s latest Internet Trends report. Advertisers don’t have the right tools to quantify mobile impact and justify investment due to several issues:

  • Accuracy vs scale: the cross-device solution conundrum

As we started discussing last year, with user identity being fragmented between cookies and device IDs, it is hard for advertisers to have a holistic view of customers and execute on a real omnichannel strategy. It is still a real challenge to offer both accuracy and scale. Only 14 percent of marketers can track cross-channel and act on data, according to a report by L2inc.

  • Higher walls in a fragmented identity ecosystem

The online identity ecosystem is highly dependent on Apple and Google, with US mobile browser share of voice a split between 51 percent Safari and 42 percent Chrome, and app browsers split 45 percent iOS and 53 percent Android. These challenges come by way of limited tracking ability to understand how users are engaging in these environments and other channels.

Further, Apple’s Limit Ad Tracking (iOS 10),  Intelligent Tracking Prevention (iOS 11) and SDK app networks and now the ITP update for social and fingerprinting (ios 12) are adding additional restrictions that advertisers need to navigate through to measure the impact of their advertising spend.

  • Attribution models

Thirty-four percent of B2B marketers have no attribution model, and it’s easy to see why. Attribution models and technology are complex. Numerous internal “organizational roadblocks” can make it very hard to convince senior executives of the long-term gains of attribution over the short-term high costs.

Mobile is a key point on your users’ road to conversion, but it is not necessarily the last signpost they hit. You need a multi-touch attribution model to account for all touchpoints before a user converts. Multi-touch attribution is a more ideal model than last-touch because it enables you to better understand true marketing impact. By letting you see exactly what led a customer to convert at all points—both online and off—on the path to purchase, you can immediately act upon what’s working and what’s not and give appropriate credit to advertising partners.

There are steps you can take to shift your business’s mindset on attribution and justify the ROI against the investment in cost, time and expertise. Read our attribution playbook for specific tactics on how to get there.

 What’s next?

If measurement is a market challenge, then the ad tech industry is poised to develop new tools that provide the solution. MediaMath is leading the charge by prioritizing the following areas:

  • Enriched identity

We believe that for advertisers to identify their best customers at scale, they need a neutral, shared device namespace that enables global reach and proprietary value-add. We believe DigiTrust represents this opportunity, which is why we joined their consortium late last quarter.

This neutral, standardized device ID will improve consumer experience by supporting privacy, reducing page load time, increasing the relevance of marketing messages and enabling the diverse ecosystem of publishers and online platforms on which they rely. We also have our own proprietary cross-device and cookieless identity solution, ConnectedID, for which we have long been sourcing deterministic signal directly from advertisers, and will start working with our industry partners to further activate.

  • Cross-device analytics reporting

It is crucial for advertisers to be armed with knowledge related to cross-device multitouch measurement and understand the impact of mobile on their omnichannel outcomes. Demonstrating mobile performance for your campaigns has often been a challenge in digital marketing. MediaMath has been developing several new reports to provide marketers with concrete data and help them with their investment decisions. As trusted advisors for our clients, we wanted this data approach to be consultative and incorporate our analytics service to benefit our clients—we know you still need a human touch.

IntelligenceMediaTrends

Greetings from the Front Lines of the Marketing Revolution!

June 4, 2018 — by Joe Zawadzki0

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It has been more than 100 years since the marketing pioneer John Wanamaker said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”  For almost a century, that statement defined marketing as a profession.

Things have changed.  Now, with programmatic marketing and a mobile computer in your pocket, marketing and the technology it uses to connect people to messages is a force so effective and powerful that the public, policymakers, and regulators have taken an intensified interest in what we do and how we do it.  That’s an opportunity.  It requires us to come together to accelerate our maturation in the industry—providing more and more control, transparency, and accountability in our practices even as we continue to innovate in pursuit of outcomes.

MediaMath has come a long way since the birth of the category more than a decade ago.  The vision was to create a single software layer, with data and insights mixed in to make high-quality marketing decisions—which ad to buy, how much to pay for it, what to show people. And then if we could bring in AI, the math part of media, and machine learning to bear to automate those high-quality marketing decisions in real time, in runtime, we could make marketing better for everyone involved.  And we did it.

Here we are, 11 years later, having made digital marketing and programmatic a reality, one in which a CMO can sit in an office anywhere in the world, push a button, and, like magic, immediately change how his or her message and brand are displayed on billions of screens. It’s amazing. And there is so much more to come as we ask this machinery to drive more sophisticated goals, as we infuse creativity and storytelling (back) into platforms.

The moment has arrived for the industry to mature beyond its gangly adolescence, to focus on the consumer experience and respect for digital dignity, to match strength for strength. The stakes are high. In Europe, regulators have adopted data protection and privacy regulation intended to give control over personal data back to citizens. Elsewhere, regulators and legislators are considering whether and how to address these issues. Without the right guardrails on use, we’ve seen marketing technology weaponized to inflame schisms in society, swing elections, reshape economic and trading blocks. This is our opportunity to meet the rising expectations of the society we live and work in to ensure that the engine of the digital economy, data-driven marketing, runs smoothly and takes us to a place we all want to go.

MediaMath was there at the beginning, and we intend to lead the next phase with clear intent and direction, focused on our mission—to make marketing everyone loves. Consumers want to understand and control how their data is being used and why, as well as be able to trust the companies that are using it. Marketers want to know exactly who they are reaching and why, and want trusted partners along every step of the value chain. Everyone agrees that, as an industry, we can do better. It all starts with remembering the human being on the other side of the screen.

That’s why in 2018, we will focus on continuing to further build the infrastructure and software that connect consumers with the brands and companies they love in a way that they love.  Our mandate for this year and beyond is continued transformation. Our product offering will evolve along three pillars: supply chain refactoring, next-generation identity / audience capabilities, and augmented AI. For our clients, this work will manifest in better outcomes—marketing dollars spent smarter, with decisioning powered by unique data sets and AI. For consumers, these initiatives will provide a better experience—brands that consumers know and trust, in an environment that respects them, bringing the whole industry toward a more idealized vision of what advertising can and should be.

We appreciate you joining us on this journey. Together, we are going to make marketing everyone loves. We invite you to challenge our ideas, inject your own, and evangelize with us to make this a reality in 2018 and beyond.

DataIntelligenceMedia

GDPR Is A Force For Good: MediaMath’s Zawadzki

February 2, 2018 — by Amarita Bansal0

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This video originally appears on Beet.TV.


Looming new European legislation governing how global companies track and process consumer personal data seem to pose a big challenge to the new-wave of pumped-up ad-tech practitioners.

But one boss at the centre of the ad targeting boom thinks the so-called “GDPR”, whose final compliance deadline comes this May, is a force for good that will help clean up ad practices and put consumers in a better relationship with marketers.

“Advertising has not done a very good job of advertising itself,” MediaMath CEO Joe Zawadzki says in this video interview with Beet.TV. “I think GDPR is this wonderful opportunity for the industry to basically say, ‘Let’s make all of those things that we’re doing explicit’.”

New measures in the GDPR, which passed in 2016, include:

  • tighter consent conditions for the collection of citizens’ data.
  • consumers can instruct companies to stop processing their data.
  • automated decision-making and profiling decisions must be made clear.
  • consumers can request decisioning by automated processes be stopped and handled by a human instead.
  • they have the right to request an explanation of automated decision-making.
  • they can request free access, rectification and deletion of data.

And the rules must be followed by any global company processing EU citizens’ data, with penalties of up to 4% of global turnover.

But Zawadzki sees the positives. “What is exciting about it, I think, is having an explicit relationship with the end-consumer,” he says.

“Let’s have a consumer Bill of Rights. Let’s be true consumer advocates and let’s use this as some mode of force to not just do it for the EU, but to use this and decide that what makes sense for a global business is to have a global set of standards.”

Views of executives interviewed for Beet.TV’s GDPR series range everywhere from “not much” to “world-changing”.

Almost two years after GDPR was implemented, we have variously heard views that many businesses remain underprepared, many ad-tech investors remain in the dark, that GDPR could have little impact and that it will fundamentally re-shape digital advertising.

There is one consensus – that GDPR is coming at the same time as a general movement toward people-based marketing, a tactic in which advertisers develop real, consensual relationships with consumers, rather that simply watching them from afar.

All that may be true, but GDPR is a policy instrument. Whilst Zawadzki is eager to adhere to it, he thinks a common technology infrastructure may be required, to underpin an ecosystem in which everyone sings from the same hymnsheet.

“Some of the things that we are missing are some true identity standards – in terms of the use of consumer data, what’s PI, what’s anonymized, what is the role of synonymous in these things,” he adds. “There’s some definitions that continue, I think, to require clarity. That may not, in fact, come pre-May.

“To actually create advertising that works, we have to create those technical specifications and maybe even those companies in order to manage that.”

To read the full article, click here. 

DataIntelligenceMedia

GDPR is Coming: Marketers Must Prioritize Transparency

February 1, 2018 — by Amarita Bansal0

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This article originally appears on MarTech Series here.

We spoke to executives across the globe to identify the top challenges that marketers would face in 2018. The common message was — “It’s time to delight the customers. Dare or risk dropping out of the league.”

GDPR is Coming: Marketers Must Prioritize Transparency

Top business leaders from the data management industry have spoken to us on how GDPR would impact the ecosystem and customer experiences along the buyer’s journey. GDPR is definitely one of the top challenges for marketers in 2018.

Alice Lincoln, Vice President, Data Policy and Governance, MediaMath, said, “With GDPR set to take effect in May 2018, many companies are preparing to adjust their business processes and technology accordingly – especially marketers. In the new year, we’ll see the increased scrutiny of major 1P players’ privacy, security, anti-fraud, brand safety, and election-related practices (Facebook, Google, etc.)”

Alice continued, “This level of scrutiny will also extend to 3P companies, and improved industry standards will emerge to proactively address these concerns. There will also be continued momentum in terms of walled gardens’ evolution to provide marketers with transparency that resembles that of 3P companies. Further, we’ll see ongoing developments in improved industry-wide standards to accommodate emerging technologies, including connected TV and IoT.”

Read the full article here.