Another year ends with a bang in sunny La Quinta, CA. Attending my first iMedia Summit from the “dark side” was an experience. It was great to see a fairly balanced view of the world given the gloomy economy and the uncertainty that it puts on the adverting business. Most felt they would hunker down and make it through to 2009 and beyond. The event was well attended, although I would say not oversold, and probably a bit skewed toward West Coast folks versus those who needed to cover the expense of flying in from other parts of the country.
As with most Summits, the content tended to lend itself to the current themes in the business. I was glad, but not surprised, to hear the themes echo our focus at Undertone. In no particular order, they were:
1. Insights, insights, insights. Insights are a way to drive value for our customers and partners. What is an insight? Without referencing a dictionary or a wiki, an insight (according to me) is any information or meaning you can learn from data that teaches us something new about a campaign, target group, etc. It is not necessarily the “ah ha” moment but it is meaningful, big or small, and can impact they way an advertiser thinks about a campaign.
Bottom line: Undertone will be the network that delivers performance, quality and insights to its partners.
2. Safety and security mean something more today than ever. With limited time, budgets and resources, advertisers need to know what they are getting and that they won’t be spending time writing apology letters to their clients.
Bottom line: Undertone delivers all that with the efficiency and ease of a network. Our $50,000 guarantee is a great start but our human driven exchange and the fact that we work with a limited number of publishers are equally important.
3. Terminator Effect. An important theme for us to watch closely is what I refer to as the “Terminator Effect” or man versus machine. Most of the major ad agency holding companies are developing some type of system to place ads directly or through networks based on their own massive data pools. They believe they can value inventory down to the impression level and gain great efficiency for their clients. Right or wrong, we will be working closely with them to determine how Undertone participates.
Bottom line: Humans (that’s most of us) are much better at insights than machines so we need to focus on delivering those insights. We’ll always need to consider how we drive value to our agency, advertiser and publisher partners beyond quantitative performance. With multiple systems under development, there will be data ownership and standards challenges. Not to mention, that not every client is comfortable with an agency owning their data.
I look forward to discussing this with all of you in the coming weeks.