edwardshannoncircleEdward Shannon, Chief Revenue Officer

After last weekend at the IAB Leadership Conference, I had to take time to decompress the core message: make sure you are buying quality over quantity. I think that rang clearest in the speech given by Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer of P&G. Others took the platform to be a bit more self-serving, and still others just clearly ignored the topic. I was disappointed, as Facebook had a significant opportunity to show leadership on the topic of “Fake News” and low-level editorial content, but chose not to address it head-on.

Outside of that, many of the presentations were more predictable than educational. I do think the core topic is something that we all need to pay attention to. There is a lot of fraud in the industry, and we can do one of two things: curl up in a ball, take a step back 15 years, and buy like it’s the early 2000s, or we can all understand how to work in this complex ecosystem. I agree 100 percent with Marc Pritchard and think advertisers should start considering paying for services and quality they expect, while publishers need to invest in third-party accredited partners that allow them to provide the cleanest, highest-quality supply as possible. So what does that mean?

  • Don’t go backwards and just start buying based on the publisher’s holding company’s name or the name of the domain. We have proven over the last decade that there are more efficient and effective ways to execute online. Just because it is not a huge publisher conglomerate, that does not mean it is not high-quality content. Even those great publications that have sophisticated IVT, irrelevant content is still shown to your intended customer and that is no fault of theirs. I believe in data, buying a “known user,” targeting first-party data, and verifying third-party data against that known user cookie base. If you operate in that fashion with credible partners, using reliable, accredited third-party verification companies and a smart planning team, you can buy high-quality content programmatically while still driving results.
  • “If you want quality work, be willing to pay for it.” Whether it is your AOR or an independent service like YellowHammer UPshot, you get what you pay for. For too long, marketers have squeezed vendors in this space on the cost of services. That unrealistic expectation of premium service for budget prices has driven a lot of the shenanigans in our business. In his speech, Marc Pritchard referred to this as an “aha” moment. More marketers need to adopt that mentality. Think of it in a real-world situation; there is only so much you can press a builder on when it come to the price of a job before they start to cut corners on the materials.
  • Universally-Adopted Industry Standards. We need this. We need more structure than the New York Jets need a QB. Unlike other mediums, the online space has so many variables that it makes it difficult to choose just one “standard.” I understand that unless we layer in more regulation, like in other mediums, online advertising is going to remain a “he said, she said” game. Publishers and tech companies will never align themselves with one universal standard of measurement because there is a chance it doesn’t put them in the best light. So it is up to the marketers to drive this. As a service provider, I welcome it – please, please, make my life easier and tell me what guidelines you want to measure success against!

To sum this up, for me, the IAB conference was successful less for the insight of the presentation and more for reassuring me of what I have felt for years…it’s time we grow up as an industry, create accountability, and act like the billion-dollar industry we are. Just promise me one thing: as our approach matures, that we do not go backward in execution. I understand there will always be bumps in the road, but we must never be afraid of moving forward.