If you didn't then you missed a great opening keynote at AdTech San Francisco. #adtechsf . Tim Armstrong, CEO of AOL, opened AdTech with an informational bang; reminding us that we are but at the beginning of the structural shift away from offline advertising and content. "Imagine" he said , "that like the Post Office closing on Saturdays, that the Internet shut down for 15% of its ad targeting opportunities a week?" In fact, I would add, that because they are closed on Sunday it's closer to 30%. "Offline competition for advertising is going down, and it will continue to do so." The traditional industry should pop it's head up like a prairie dog on that one.
And with no less controversial flare he said that we are at the "Highest point of opportunity and lowest point of competition. Yes, there is competition, but if you really look at the marketplace that competition is not differentiated in a way that is substantive." He explains that there is Programmatic Advertising, but he both cautions and is excited about its usage. "At AOL we look at programmatic as a way of letting humans do manual things." What does he mean by that? Just look at the way that they have started to analyze their usage data across multiple screens. Using hourly, and even minute by minute usage patterns they have determined that there are donut hole gaps in peoples usage patterns between mobile, tablets and desktops.
At AOL they are capitalizing on delivering to the right screens when they are most valuable to be there. "That is something a human could never do. This is where programmatic really matters." But it is the human that has to make the decision to look for that data. "Programmatic has exploded creativity but we can learn something from the financial industry here." In the beginning financial companies were much the same in their usage of programmatic technology. Many of them sought to remove the "human" component, and in doing so their valuations have remained flat. But it is companies like Goldman Sachs that marries programmatic with human intelligence that sees the most value. A high level of creativity is necessary to make sense of programmatic.
And that is where he wants AOL to occupy this space; "the Goldman Sachs of digital advertising." Only through this type of blending he believes will we, as an industry, start to get the most value for a clients money, where a dollar in approaches a dollar out, and it does not get eaten up by the taxes of all the intermediaries.
It is a bright and amazing time to be in digital marketing and advertising, and if the start of AdTech is any indication this is going to be an amazing show.