Advertising Week Sessions Explore Talent and Technology

The Evolution of Programmatic and Building Corporate Culture are Two Main Themes from Day 1

September 27, 2016

Advertising Week Sessions Explore Talent and Technology

Advertising Week kicked off Monday in New York, and two of the major themes for the event revolved around how the advertising world is grappling with technology and with attracting talent.

In one session, “The Programmatic Evolution,” a panel explored the current state of programmatic advertising and prognosticated on its future. “I would say we’re in the third inning of programmatic,” said one of the panelists, Mark Zagorski, CEO, eXelate. Despite questions about audience quality, viewability, brand safety, and ad blocking, programmatic buying of online display advertising in the United States is projected to increase 24 percent to $27.5 billion in 2017, according to eMarketer. That figure, however, remains dwarfed by spending on television. “There is $75 billion still being spent on television when no meaningful data is attached to it,” said another panelist, Scott Howe, President-CEO, Acxiom.

Howe and the panel, however, agreed that the spending gap between programmatic and traditional television should narrow in the coming years. They also agreed that programmatic television, based on digital data, is increasingly becoming a reality. “There was $300 million spent on targeted television (last year),” Howe said. “That’s up 30x from two years ago.”

In addition to moving into television, the panel expects that programmatic, because of its efficiency and targeting capabilities, will move into a wide variety of formats. Programmatic buying of display ads has, for instance, recently become a reality on LinkedIn. Additionally, the panel said that advertising in high-rise elevators, for instance, will use beacon technology to serve programmatic ads. Programmatic is increasingly moving into mobile. “Mobile is already where the attention is. In Times Square, we’ve got ten thousand ads all over the place, and what are people doing? They’re looking at their phones,” said panelist Eric Franchi, Co-Founder, Undertone.

Even driverless cars provide an opportunity for programmatic. “There will be a really big screen (in your self-driving car). What is going to happen on that screen? Someone is going to put ads on that screen,” said panelist Tim Cadogan, CEO, OpenX.

In a separate session, “Creating Authentic Conversations in the Workplace,” executives from non-profit and its for-profit arm, TMI Strategy, discussed their approach to building a transparent and inclusive culture — one that can attract and retain the largely Millennial workforce at both organizations.

Aria Finger, CEO,, and Meredith Ferguson, Managing Director, TMI Strategy, agreed that they encourage employees to “bring their whole selves to work.” That philosophy has led to having company-wide meetings to discuss the affects of the nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida, or the sniper shootings of police in Dallas, Finger said.

A philosophy of radical transparency has led to management meetings, held once a week for the 11 managers, now being live-streamed so that any of the organization’s 50 employees can listen in. This kind of transparency is not limited to small companies, Finger and Ferguson said.  “Changing big company culture is like trying to turn around the Titanic,” Ferguson said. “Think of it as loads of little boats. You don’t need to turn around lots of little boats. That’s a lot easy to wrap your arms around because that’s how it happens.”

To boost dialogue with employees, the pair recommended creating an employees survey to gauge their morale and discover what they’re thinking. “Data and HR sometimes don’t go hand-in-hand,” Finger said, but the survey can provide a data baseline to begin to improve company culture and transparency.  

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