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.