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Three Key Insights From The ANA Media Conference

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Earlier this month, I attended the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) Media Conference. Historically, the event has been a place for industry leaders and marketers to come together to discuss their grievances, successes, and what’s next in media. Below are the biggest trends and most important takaways from the conference.

1. Efficiency over Effectiveness

Gone are the days of the long tail – and with that, we would assume that marketers might understand that programmatic is no longer an efficiency play. However, there was a lot of chatter at the conference about saving money by using programmatic. This stems from reports, press coverage, and keynotes that speak to a murky supply chain and lack of trust and transparency between programmatic partners and marketers. Applying data to programmatic buys across premium publishers is and should be more expensive than a direct buy. The tradeoff is that the marketer has control and is driving better results. One advocate, Kristi Argyilan, Senior Vice President, Media, Guest Engagement and Measurement at Target said, “leveraging data to make informed buys across advertising is more effective than direct buys,” and urged the audience to “stay true to your consumers” by using data to inform strategy. On the other hand, many still continue a rallying cry to drive down costs across the middlemen including, data providers, third-party verification partners, SSPs, and ad servers to allocate more money to “working media” and publishers.

The most outspoken proponent of driving lower prices was Lucas Herscovici, Global Marketing VP of Consumer Connections, Insights and Innovation at Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), who spoke at length about the company’s recent quest to find a new media agency. He reminded the audience that “costs decrease in a competitive environment,” and to keep agencies on their toes by putting them up for review every 3-4 years to re-negotiate contracts for better prices. This kind of mentality is dangerous for the industry, which has been driven by procurement for the last two decades. Media should be a business investment, not an expenditure.

2. Limited conversation around OTT/ Addressable TV

Over the top (OTT) and addressable TV strategies were briefly covered during the pre-conference, but there was little mention of them during sessions. According to Jim Nail, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, adoption has slowed  because:

  • It’s hard to compare OTT to traditional TV and the metrics can’t be compared similairly.
  • Generally, it’s the TV buyers who are tasked to take on OTT and addressable TV planning, however they don’t have the data skills to apply the best of both planning approaches to create a new planning process.

This doesn’t mean that marketers don’t or won’t care about changes in television, but it does reinforces that companies like OMG and Resolution are ahead of the curve and leading the industry toward the future.

3. Early Data Transparency Conversations

Resolution has been talking a lot about supply chain (inventory) transparency (read Marc Pritchard’s calls to actions starting in January 2017). However, during this conference, Pritchard also started talking about what’s next on his agenda: moving from wasteful mass reach (demo targeting) to one-to-one precision audience targeting, of which we have seen evidence from OMG agency Hearts & Science. He was not the only one emphasizing the importance of data.

General Data Comments:

  • Lucas Herscovici from AB InBev advised not to use data just for the sake of data. Instead, leveraging data should be all about decision making. An entire business needs to be driven by those insights, and “data leadership” is a“key competitive advantage.”
  • Louis Jones, EVP, Media & Data at 4As said that marketers need to create a data culture rather than a technology culture within brands and agencies, as we are finally at an inflection point where the focus will become more about the kind of data marketers are using, rather than just incorporating data into media buys.

First-Party Data

  • Kristi Argyilan of Target said that first-party data, which consistently outperforms cookie-based data, and personalization, are the company’s top priorities, and that quality data is what distinguishes marketing and will be the next big topic in our space.

Third-Party Data

  • Several marketers said they are moving away from third-party data altogether and are seeing better results. The only marketer to admit to being “heavily reliant” on third-party data was Luke Kigel, Senior Director, Total Brand Experience at Johnson & Johnson, but that they are looking to move to a people-based approach in the future.

Walled Garden data

  • Google and Amazon are the only two companies in 55 that received RFI’s by The Hershey Company “that are delivering value in data and analytics” according to Charles Chappell, Head of Global Media and Agency Excellence at The Hershey Company.
  • Scale is contributing to walled garden growth because third-party data can’t effectively achieve reach, and there is not enough high value inventory outside of walled gardens for data providers to generate scale, according to Louis Jones, EVP, Media & Data at 4As.

Data is central to Resolution’s value proposition, where we have prioritized first-party data and walled garden platforms to leverage unique data, and our media network has created its own solution (Annalect Custom Audiences) to combat black-box third-party data. This solution ensures our clients have access to transparent, reliable and high-performing data sources.