IAB Ad Operations Summit 2013 Highlights
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Operational Implications of Automated Advertising

The sold-out 2013 IAB Ad Operations Summit—the largest ever—got underway as Steve Sullivan, Vice President, Advertising Technology, IAB, confirmed the powerful and growing role of the ad operations community in the digital marketplace. “We do digital really, really well. You are uniquely positioned to become the life blood, the beating heart, of the entire media and marketing enterprise,” he declared.

Keynote speaker Quentin George, Co-Founder and Principal, \UNBOUND\, took the stage next, imploring the marketers and publishers in the room to work better as an industry in order to close the gap between advertisers’ expectations and ad operation capabilities. Perception is reality, he reminded us—so there is no choice but to own that gap and meet the expectations that are set in the digital marketplace. We need to arm creative directors with the insights that will add richness to their work, he said. Brands need to share information about what works and what doesn’t with publishers so messages and experiences can be differentiated—the promise of programmatic can do that. And the sequence at which these experiences are delivered is imperative to creating a unique experience that tells a rich narrative.

Alanna Gombert, General Manager, CatalystDesk, Condé Nast, and Chair, IAB Programmatic Publishers Task Force, kicked off the Industry Fast Break sessions with Programmatic and Automation: Getting the Industry on the Same Page. She explained the work of the IAB Programmatic Publishers Task Force and directed attendees to the group’s first deliverable, Programmatic and Automation: The Publisher's Perspective.

Michael Smith, Vice President, Revenue Platforms and Operations, Hearst, used the first few minutes of his time on stage to call out and commend the new IAB Ad Operations Certification Program and recognize some pioneers in the automation of high-value inventory: Ted Meisel, Chief Executive Officer, Overture; Bill Gross, Founder IdeaLab; Mike Walrath, Founder, Right Media; and Brian O’Kelley Former Chief Technology Officer, Right Media. Increasing, advertisers want to buy display ad impressions one at a time—similar to the way we buy songs on iTunes—not in bunches, he said. He went on to share some business rules recommendations for automating high-value inventory including creating a public exchange to compete with full-service guaranteed deals, assigning your brand to your inventory, enabling all advertisers to purchase your impressions and not implementing price floors for advertisers—and lastly, potentially creating a private exchange that requires advertisers to bid a minimum CPM that is higher than your average full-service guaranteed campaigns. He then covered technical implementation planning and private exchanges.

Dave Kappenstein, Senior Director, Advertising Technology and Development, Comcast Interactive Media, and Cathi Kwon, Group Product Manager, Adobe Video Solutions, walked the audience through their collaboration on adoption of technical specifications and protocols, VAST + VPAID + VMAP = VSUITE.  Consumers don’t think about what device they are viewing things on, they just want it to work—and they want it to be creative and engaging—which is why these standards are important. Some concerns addressed through the standards include how partners target ads running on portals and how to bridge the traditional and digital workflow.

How do we make digital media as easy to buy as broadcast? Answering that question was the task at hand for Joanna Bloor, Vice President, Sales Operations, Pandora; Jennifer Hungerbuhler, Senior Vice President, Group Director, Local Media Activation, Carat USA; and Mike Shields, Senior Reporter, AdWeek. The group explored how Carat and Pandora bridged the gap between different measurement and currency methods and translated the language into something that could be compared apples-to-apples to broadcast through Pandora’s integration into Mediaocean and STRATA. When you look at the ad deals and scale between TV and radio, you quickly realize this all needs to be automated, said Bloor. It’s “just math,” but how do you make the operational approaches match up? Learning a new lexicon of language for the programmatic buying systems worked and had positive impact, so both organizations are seeing increases in operational margins. Hungerbuhler described Pandora as the gold standard for doing this at scale and challenged other vendors to live up to their example.

Which of your media devices would you vote off the island first? Christian Kugel, Vice President, Consumer Analytics and Research, AOL, had 3D Multidimensional Multiplatform research to prove that most people would vote off the tablet, but when you really dissect the data, the decision isn’t so clear. As consumers’ transition and multitask between devices the marketer must consider how each screen impacts other screens, that different types of content are consumed on each screen at different times. Advertisers must be aware that they are paying for eyeballs that are digitally distracted at all times. However, multidevice use is not cannibalistic. It increases overall screen time. Each screen brings unique value to the user.

Scott Cunningham, Senior Vice President, Product, Federated Media, an active member of the IAB Traffic of Good Intent Task Force, led the second Industry Fast Break of the day and the last session of the morning. Sharing the goal of the group—to define types of activates that should and should not be considered “Traffic of Good Intent” and the draft standard definitions—he explained traffic fraud, the work of “bad actors,” how these “bad actors” get paid, why this issue is important, and how to educate yourself about the issues.

“Markets don’t target audiences, they target individuals at scale that participate,” said Mark Howard, Chief Revenue Officer, Forbes Media, and Member, IAB Board of Directors, as he discussed whether or not the IAB Rising Stars should be automated in the third Industry Fast Break of the day. IAB Rising Stars ad units achieve 4-times longer interaction time and 202% higher interaction rate than other units, he shared.  Things to keep in mind when thinking about automating: Ensure that 3rd party tags work on both desktop and mobile devices; eliminate operating issues, expansions and pushdowns that don’t work properly; solving Z index problems, and ensuring proper fit on the page.

How do you implement and execute integrated mobile campaigns?  Julienne Thompson, Vice President, Programmatic Business, Millennial Media, and Ryan Christensen, Vice President, Product, AppNexus, took a close look at what ad operations professionals still need to do to embrace mobile and display as one. “This year, 2013, really is the year of mobile,” said Thompson. The number of mobile devices overtook the number of humans (7B) in the world and more android devices are activated each day than babies born, she cited. Christensen stressed the number of creative assets that can come with a cross-screen campaign and how the challenges of platforms, targeting, and scale, factor into the automated advertising equation. To close the session Thompson showcased creative mobile assets that are parts of bigger cross-screen campaigns. “Pull in elements that are similar, but tailored to the size of the screen to draw the user in,” she advised.

In a much anticipated afternoon session, George Ivie, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director, Media Rating Council, focused on their Vendor Reconciliation Project for measuring viewable impressions, which will help advertisers and publishers compare vendors accredited to measure viewable impressions. To close this session Brian Adams, Director, Product Management, Google, and Lindsey Sheffield, Business Intelligence Manager, McClatchy Interactive, sat down to talk about the real-world implications of what McClatchy Interactive is expecting to see as viewable impression standards take effect.

Jonathan Margulies, Managing Director, Winterberry Group, revealed results of an IAB/Winterberry study six months in the making, “Programmatic Everywhere? Data, Technology and the Future of Audience Engagement.” According to the report, 85% of advertisers and 72% of publishers use programmatic auction strategies, and there are signs of more aggressive adoption on the horizon, but brand safety concerns could prove a potential stumbling block to programmatic’s growth.
After breaking into smaller groups for IAB Marketplace Conversations on the biggest topics in ad ops, volunteers from each session briefly spoke to the larger group about what insights and ideas drove their debate and discussion.

The New Age of Ad Operations
Kelly Roark, Vice President, Interactive Sales and Business Development, Scripps Network, discussed the idea that ad ops is now “all ops”—all-encompassing and about much more than implementation. Ad ops teams should be driving the direction of their companies. She also noted the need to keep talent engaged by cross-training and helping them see and understand their role in the big picture.

Performance-Based Mobile Advertising
Richard Nguyen, Director, Ad Operations, Hulu, said that one thing of great concern for his group was the buy-side issue of “authoring” one ad that should successfully run on any screen or device.

Guaranteed Viewable Impressions
Angelina Eng, VP/Director, Digital Media Operations, Carat, shared the collective answers to questions like, “Is the support system in place today to handle viewability on the buy and sell side? No, the group decided. “Is communicating with partners in the planning cycle important?” Yes, very, as viewable impressions is a currency that needs to be understood by all parties.

The DMP, Redefined
Joy Cavanagh Ross, Vice President, Sales Development, AdFin, delivered her group’s feedback on data sharing and working with partners on data extension. She also discussed consumer choice and what consumers expect and accept in order to have easy access to information they want and need.

That wrapped up a full day of content for attendees, but there was more networking to come. A closing cocktail reception provided one last opportunity to continue the intense conversations and debates of the day.

News from IAB Ad Operations Summit 2013

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