4 Key Take-Aways from ad:tech 2015

Posted by WhatRunsWhere on May 26, 2015
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Last week, WhatRunsWhere was excited to be an exhibitor at ad:tech San Francisco; the conference where marketing, technology and media communities come together to share new ideas, network, and discuss solutions to new industry challenges.


Jenyo, one of our Account Executives giving a live demo of the WhatRunsWhere tool

ad:tech San Francisco 2015 welcomed over 5000 attendees that ranged from  world renowned marketers, to digital media fanatics, top executives and everyone in between.  The conference was buzzing with conversations around programmatic marketing, the shift to mobile and every other hot trend in the industry. With more than 130 senior level speakers from various companies including Google, LinkedIn, The Wall Street Journal, Starcom, Twitter and Publicis,  – there was a lot of learning and networking to be done!

So what can companies and advertisers learn from a 2 day collaboration of the latest and greatest in the ad tech industry?  We’ve summarised 4 key take-aways from ad:tech San Francisco 2015:

1. Learn quickly, adapt quickly, fail quickly

This was a prominent theme that was brought up in many of the keynote presentations. With technologies changing the world of advertising at such a fast pace, it’s imperative for companies to adopt this mentality. Julian Aldrige from Charles Schwab & Co. defined this as Venture Marketing: “the assumption that many initiatives will fail or underperform, but that a few will show the potential for massive, disproportionate and game changing success.”  

 What does this mean?

Learn Quickly: Everyday companies have the opportunity to explore new avenues of technology when it comes to advertising. In order to survive the digital future, your company needs to have a methodology for learning and a workforce that is eager to engage in it.

Adapt quickly: With the ever-changing digital landscape, it’s not enough for companies to just learn about new trends but to prioritize making them part of the company. Adapting quickly is essential in today’s society because either your consumer or your competitor (or both) has already done so.

Fail Quickly: Of course learning and adapting to new technology comes with the risk that not every change will work for your company and if it doesn’t (here’s the key part) don’t linger on the failure. Move on to the next initiative that could be a game changer. The conversation around this mentality also brought up the notion of ‘failing smartly’, that is learn from your mistakes and projects that didn’t pan out as planned. If you have an understanding of why something didn’t work you can apply these learnings to future decisions and projects.


Our beaming sales team ready to talk competitive intelligence at ad:tech.

 2. Mobile gives us access to micro moments

 If there was one topic that was truly #trending at ad:techSF it was the discussion around the shift to mobile. As Sridhar Ramaswamy, SVP of Ads and Commerce at Google, pointed out “the center of gravity is firmly shifting towards mobile”. On average, we reach for our phone about 100 times a day! Mobile has become our go-to source for news, entertainment, communication, boredom, the list goes on and on. With this shift to mobile, advertisers can gain access to customers in ways they never have before; through micro moments.

 Micro moments are moments of intent, moments where we know exactly what the consumer wants or is trying to do. How does mobile give us access to these moments? It’s the place people go when they want to know what restaurants are close, what to do while on vacation in San Francisco, want to buy a new car, want directions to a mall or want to know how to build a deck. Regardless of what customers want to know the most important thing is that they are going to their phone to get the answer. Mobile buying intent is strong and the stats prove this: “over 90% of people who search on mobile will buy, 50% who search local stores will visit the store within a day and 18% will buy from the store”, Sridhar Ramaswamy.

 Ramaswamy’s recipe for success to help you leverage micro moments tells us to:

  • Identify moments to win
  • Deliver on the needs in the moment
  • Measure every moment that matters

These micro moments are not only critical to the customer but also to the brand. Having access to such strong intent makes these micro moments a critical point of contact because they can influence purchasers in a space where preferences are being shaped and decisions are being made.  If brands can get their message in front of their audience during these moments they will win.


Sridhar Ramaswamy discussing the shift to mobile with Chia Chen, Michael Menis, & Darren Stoll. Photo courtesy of ad:tech.

3. Be useful instead of promotional

 In today’s society, it seems we do everything possible to avoid being promoted to and yet we are still bombarded with advertisements on a daily basis. ad:tech offered some insightful advice on how to change our approach to our promotion tactics. First, take a step back from promoting to your audience and work on earning their trust instead. According to CEO of Influence & Co., John Hall, “when you earn their trust, opportunities will come to you”.

 The keys to gaining the trust of your audience are help, educate and perform. How you can approach all three?

 Help: Understand what your audience wants to do and focus on helping them achieve this instead of focusing on pushing your solutions onto them blindly.

 Educate: Once you understand what your customer wants, you can help them understand how to get there. Instead of promoting, you can use content (like through a company blog) to educate, engage and then sell. By providing useful and relevant information, your audience will see you as a partner or guide rather than a company trying to sell to them.

 Perform: Finally once you’ve done the above and your audience knows you are on their side, you go above and beyond in performance. That is, you deliver on what they are trying to achieve and then some. 

If you can accomplish these three things then you will gain the trust of your customer and won’t have to focus on the sell, sell, sell because they will already be willing to hear what you have to say.

4. Consider new ways of measurement to prevent ad fraud

Did you know that there is a potential to lose a staggering $6.3 billion to non-human traffic in digital advertising? This is a scary number for advertisers to swallow as it makes us realize that the people we think we are reaching in digital campaigns might actually be bots. So the question is how do we get ahead of these bots that are wasting our advertising dollars?

Here are a few tips from industry leaders at ad:tech on how to prevent ad fraud:

  • Align with partners (ex. agencies, platforms) who have taken the time to focus on the issue of ad fraud and have built safe guards to prevent it. In doing so, you can mitigate the risk of losing views to bots and become more educated on the subject.
  • Explore other options of measuring campaign success. In the digital world we are usually focused on number of likes, shares, follows, tweets etc. but some of these might be coming from bots. Therefore we need to think about breaking away from the idea of being interaction centric. Instead, find a system that will understand our audience’s behaviour and connect the various touch points we have with them.
  • Budget for audits of fraud. When considering the sum of potential loss our industry could suffer from ad fraud- it makes it worth allocating time and money towards monitoring fraud for our digital campaigns. This includes everything from investing in studies and initiatives to benchmark what’s happening in the industry and continuing to have constructive dialogue on how to solve this issue.


If one thing was made clear at ad:tech 2015, it’s that in the digital realm, change is inevitable. Whether it’s learning how to optimize the newest ad type or integrating the latest tool into your company’s marketing strategy – digital advertisers need to be open to an always changing environment.

To complement the tips and tricks for success we heard from ad:tech leaders across the industry we leave you with one last piece of advice for surviving the digital age: simply continue to participate and engage in conversations with others in digital, marketing, media and technology communities. 

We are all responsible for pushing the envelope in digital. By collaborating with others you keep the digital dialog going and drive change. So get involved, network, share, inspire and be inspired to be at the frontier of digital change.


Topics: Conferences, Tradeshows, Mobile, digital marketing, adtech


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