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MediaMath EMEA 2019 Summit: Key Takeaways

March 5, 2019 — by Fatimah Radiom

Last month, we hosted MediaMath’s second annual EMEA Client Summit in Iceland. We brought together our clients, partners and executives in a freezing cold, yet magical, setting,

Now that we’re back, and somewhat defrosted, here’s a summary of some key takeaways.

Bringing more transparency into the ecosystem

We heard multiple times from clients and MediaMath experts about the importance of the “T” word: transparency.

Digital marketing technologies have disrupted the market and changed the way we purchase media. Brands must have full transparency into their advertising spend to understand ad fees and to measure attribution accurately, the media buying process to ensure target audiences actually see ads designed for them and also visibility into customer insights and data, including how and where it is being used. There were frustrations shared by many clients with the closeness of the walled gardens. The consensus in the room was that data must be made available and shared internally across teams for interpretation. But who should lead this effort, and is it more of an educational issue, or do we simply need more government regulation or intervention?

The reality is, that we ALL play a role—brands, agencies, partners, publishers. The ecosystem is complex, with many players involved, but to get to a point of total transparency, we must all hold ourselves accountable.

Recognising and respecting the consumer

The “identity” roundtable discussion highlighted key challenges faced by marketers such as fragmented online identities. The result is a disconnected set of experiences for the consumer, and the tough task for marketers to truly create a unified experience across devices. With rising consumer demands over brand experiences and levels of personalisation, identity is a huge deal. To solve for fragmentation and disconnected experiences, clients expressed the need for more data-driven marketing, using the right data in the right ways to generate true value.

MediaMath’s Chief Product and Technology Officer Wilfried Schobeiri and our CEO Joe Zawadzki shared our vision for a consistent, open, portable approach to identity. We help marketers respect and prove relevance to consumers by enabling a single view of them as people, not devices, and an observed, not inferred, understanding of their behaviour. We do this with an identity graph that is deterministic for accuracy, with an option to activate probabilistic for scale. Clients can then leverage our MediaMath Audiences proprietary data asset to layer on attributes to consumers that are based on observed actions. This understanding of consumers is portable, able to be leveraged in other platforms beyond ours.

Balancing machine power with human expertise

Even when identity has been addressed, there are still challenges in knowing what to do with the data and insights. This was a dilemma raised by clients in the AI-themed roundtable discussion—when to use machines and when to use people to analyse the data?

Anna Grodecka-Grad, Chief Services Officer at MediaMath, delivered a thought-provoking keynote on this topic. With automation playing a significant role in driving efficiencies and speed, we will see a pivot from “media doers” to “media consultants.” There will be a need for more strategic, actionable expertise. AI will help to mature industry talent.

Other themes that came up around AI were that people’s definition of the term varies—the common understanding seemed to be “connectivity” and the ability to optimise projects and touchpoints. Concerns around data and how to evaluate the accuracy of your data, what to automate and how best to leverage insights were common challenges. On the measurement front, clients are at different stages of being able to attribute their marketing, and questions arose about the ability to measure frequency.

The future of programmatic/emerging channels

The most popular and well-attended session was “the future of programmatic.” With more accurate targeting, marketers are investing in channels like digital-out-of-home (DOOH) and addressable TV (learn more about the latter from a Beet.TV interview with Mike Fisher, our VP/Head of Advanced TV & Video).

Some discussions highlighted the key benefits of emerging channels such as enhanced creativity in the delivery of campaigns, increased efficiencies and the ability to create more visually appealing, meaningful and unique customer experiences. However, there were some common challenges flagged, which seemed to prevent more widespread adoption:

  • Supply & market forces: These solutions are not being made 100-percent available or feasible from the supply side (too little inventory, programmatic prices too high).
  • Internal politics: To whom does this budget belong? Which department? Legacy teams feel pressure not to give it to digital.
  • Measurement: How do marketers best assess KPIs once these channels are brought to digital activation?

As noted by our Director of Emerging Channels Karen Chan in a blog post earlier this year, the best way to get started with new channels such as DOOH is to have the right expectations, creatives and supply strategy in addition to the right partners to help you achieve success with these emerging mediums across your multichannel campaigns.

The opportunity for media agencies to be consultative partners

Another interesting topic of conversation and debate was the role of media agencies.

Brands shared reasons why they are re-evaluating their media-buying models and which model seemed to work best for them. While the role of media agencies will change over time, the fireside chat with our agency clients felt there are significant benefits to strategic involvement of external partners in media buying. MediaMath experts recently authored a playbook “Tech & Talent: Four Models for Managing the Evolution of Your Programmatic Media” which suggests that a triangulation between the three will prove most effective over time.

As Joe stated in his fireside chat at the end of the event, MediaMath is committed to bringing accountability to the industry, and to helping our clients and partners create an environment that is aligned to their needs for brand health and growth. We look forward to welcoming you back in 2020, to see how the industry has evolved, to share what we have been doing about it and to hear your feedback on how we can continue to transform our solutions to meet these needs.