Data takes center stage at Advertising Week 2015

Advertising Week’s opening day was marked by discussions about data-driven advertising and monetization techniques amidst changes in the industry.

Advertising Week is in its twelfth year, and with it comes a several-thousands-strong influx of marketers flooding into New York City. Members of the Yahoo team will be on panels and presenting at a number of sessions throughout the week — be sure to return to the blog throughout the event for highlights from each day’s sessions.

The Currency of Data: Why It Matters for Marketers

Liza Utzschneider, Yahoo CRO, and Bonin Bough, VP of Global Media and Consumer Engagement at Mondelez International, took the stage at the opening hour of Advertising Week 2015 to discuss the value and power of data. Demonstrating the process of using complex data to generate better — more personalized and effective — ads, Utzschneider told a story to which we can all relate. Waiting for a flight, she and several other passengers were notified of a delay through a smartphone app before any announcement was made by the gate agent. This is a classic example of why apps have become a part of our daily lives: they provide information that empowers us. This is as true for marketers as it is for consumers.

Data, Utzchneider continued, enables marketers to deliver better experiences for consumers because it can help us generate insights, refine our targeting, and measure results appropriately. The proof is readily available. Leveraging data on a specific consumer from Yahoo’s data capturing avenues (smart TV, mail data, app data from Flurry, mobile data) can allow for the creation of personalized ads. Utzchneider used herself as an example, citing the use of email, smart TV, and mobile data for developing a highly-targeted, travel-related display ad. Yahoo sees a 10x lift in viewer engagement for the travel category when ads are personalized in this way.

Utzchneider and Bough then sat down for a Q&A, where they talked more specifically about how data (like location and app data) can help specifically with mobile reach. According to Bough, the use of sophisticated data has already influenced Mondelez toward using programmatic technology, and the significant incremental growth they’ve seen since shifting budget to mobile has solidified one notion in their strategy: personalized ads and mobile focus is critical for success.

From Aspirational to Operational: Putting Native and Programmatic to Work For You

A panel of power players in programmatic postulated possibilities for native ads in the near future. From the outset, the conversation was poignant and stimulating. Adobe’s Tim Waddell asserted that, despite the pervasive influence of targeting, content is still king in media. Waddell also reminded attendees that, while we have a plethora of channels to work with, advertisers have the responsibility to delight viewers — to make it fun. Content’s kingship is the reason that native advertising has exploded in popularity.

According to Yannis Dosios, VP of Publisher Services at Yahoo, we are just scratching the surface of native, but what we have seen is that it is highly effective for advertisers, more profitable for publishers, and a better experience for consumers. Because of its relative infancy, Dosios continued, we have yet to see the broad applications of native advertising. We will soon see new forms of native — video chief among them—that place relevant ads for consumers across a wider variety of connected experiences. In particular, there are exciting possibilities for native’s growth within news, weather, entertainment, and lifestyle. As an example of a farther-afield application of native, Dosios proposed the placement of ads on a smartphone as its battery is charging (a situation where there is typically a good deal of unused real estate on screen).

The panel agreed that quickly changing standards and measurements for native advertising make it challenging to keep up, but the benefits of applying data and native across experiences will be well worth the challenge.

Masters of Monetization with CNBC

Monetizing assets is a core element of any content publisher’s business. Advertising is the cornerstone of that monetization. A panel discussion dedicated to monetization featured executives from several major publishers, including Yahoo’s Lisa Utzschneider.

When asked what Yahoo is doing to monetize assets, Utzschneider replied that mobile monetization opportunities are massive, particularly in native — including video, in-stream, and in-app. Meredith Levien, EVP and CRO at The New York Times, added the crucial note that advertisers and publishers need to ensure that ads are never interfering with user experience, and that they can help improve the content if possible.

The discussion turned to a boiling question in the industry today — ad blocking. The key points from the ensuing discussions were:

  • Where there is demand for ad blocking, there must be bad ads or bad experiences with ads. Fix the ads, fix the experience, and people will stop feeling the need to block the advertisements. Paying to be whitelisted by ad blockers is not a viable solution.
  • Seeing the content creator and consumer as constituents — and creating options that cater to their needs — is an effective strategy. Creators need the right platforms for their work, and consumers should be given the option to pay directly to view that content, if they prefer that to ads.
  • Data is absolutely crucial. Editorial expertise is only half of the puzzle when it comes to effective content marketing. Data is what will drive the industry into the future.
  • This is the year of mobile video. We need to make sure our content is optimized for mobile experiences.

Fireside Chat with Marissa Mayer and Slate’s Jacob Weisberg

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer sat down with Slate’s Jacob Weisberg for a chat in which the gamut of Yahoo’s activities were covered, from developments in mobile, to the upcoming first live-streamed NFL game, to the explosive growth of Tumblr. Mayer covered the core pillars of Yahoo’s business — search, communications, and digital content — as well as some of the incredible insights we’ve gained about user behavior through Flurry data.

Measurement: A Marketer’s Toolkit

Dennis Buchheim, VP of Product Management at Yahoo, delivered a talk at IAB Mixx about the need for proper measurement. Delivering ads to the right audience is only half of the puzzle; measuring the effect these ads have is just as critical for success and optimization. Proper measurement can provide tremendous insights that help reduce costs and increase impact on ad campaigns. Native ads, for instance, earn 3X more attention than display, achieve 23% higher ad quality perception, and lower click to conversion rates. Depending on the allocation of your creative, it’s well worth making changes to match statistically-viable plans. You can see the presentation's slides here.