As the industry gathers together on the Croisette, Joelle Frijters, CEO of Improve Digital explains why this year’s Cannes Lions feels different, and why she is shifting her attention from the here-and-now to almost exclusively on the future.
Cannes in June – not a bad place to be – when the great and the good of the advertising world descend en masse to work and network on the Croisette.
It is an important time for Improve Digital too, as it serves as the backdrop for our annual European publisher summit where we welcome more than 60 industry leaders from across Europe. It’s not all work, mind you – we do find time for our VIP dinner and cocktail reception on the beach as well.
The industry gathers each year for the Cannes Lions to celebrate the great work of our industry. Increasingly, however, tech is joining creative at centre stage. Now is a time of unprecedented change, and it is almost impossible to separate the technology side of the industry from creative development, media planning and advertising sales.
That’s what has brought Improve Digital to Cannes each year, and this year is no exception. This year, however, feels a bit different, and with our summit we are shifting our attention from the here-and-now to almost exclusively focusing on the future.
The world of media advertising sales is changing fast, and it’s crucial to think about the bridges that must be built between where we’ve been and where we’re going. And that’s why, for two days, we are bringing together more than 60 industry leaders from across Europe to debate “Programmatic 2020: Preparing the world beyond RTB.” The future of data, video, display, and mobile is evolving, and the automation of sales and monetisation is at the centre of it all. Programmatic sales as a discipline has arrived.
No longer an afterthought or solution for unsold inventory, it is now a core part of most media owners’ sales strategies. During 2015, 50 per cent of online display ad spend will run through programmatic channels, and by 2018, 50 billion dollars of digital ad spend will be invested programmatically. (Source: Magna Global)
Beyond that, within the programmatic space, Video and Mobile are key drivers of growth – both for digital overall and programmatic. Looking at Video in particular and why those investments are so important, Magna Global forecasts that, by 2019, 10 billion dollars (or 17%) of US TV budgets will be managed through programmatic channels. The importance of this statistic cannot be overstated; it is a clear illustration of how the media sales automation techniques perfected in the digital realm will soon be changing the very nature of media sales in traditionally ‘offline’ channels.
Huge change is ahead. And put simply, we’ll all soon be operating according to a new market transaction standard for most every ad sold. Many digital media operators are running mature programmatic operations at scale, while many others are still making early investments, testing and learning, and finding out how best to integrate programmatic into their legacy go-to-market strategy.
Of course, shifting a sales strategy from largely ‘direct’ to ‘automated’ takes time, requiring across-the-board changes to people, process, and tools. Those changes cannot happen overnight, nor can any organisation even absorb changes of that magnitude all at once. One thing is true, though – programmatic has arrived, and the time for waiting on the market to reach critical mass has passed. Investments are required today for any company to survive and thrive tomorrow.
This is an exciting time for the market, but as with any fundamental shift, it is also daunting. No one knows exactly what the future state of programmatic looks like in 2020, but we all have strong opinions and huge incentives to figure it out. And that is the reason for our summit: two days, sixty industry leaders, and a singular focus on the investments in people, process, and technology that will define the industry for years (if not decades) to come.