Roundup: IAB Tech Lab’s Innovation Day Focused on Change, Trust, and Privacy

Interfaces are transforming, metrics are increasingly turning on consumer experience and trust, and the rise of privacy regulation (and the laws that will define it) are paramount on every marketer’s agenda.

There’s a lot to learn from listening to others, and the IAB Tech Lab is at the forefront of bringing together marketing experts worth our attention. That was certainly the case in November at Innovation Day in New York City. IAB presented thought leaders and industry insiders for an in-depth look at the state of technology, data, privacy, and the swiftly moving changes that are affecting all of us.

From advertisers to marketers, publishers, and the consumers that our industry serves, the following roundup captures critical moments from this month’s IAB Tech Lab Innovation Day. It very much shows where we are, together, at this moment: interfaces are transforming, metrics are increasingly turning on consumer experience and trust, and the rise of privacy regulation (and the laws that will define it) are paramount on every marketer’s agenda.

Future-Proofing for Change

The experts at the Tech Lab event are looking at a future full of uncertainties — which is the nature of this industry, of course, when it comes to media, publishing, marketing, and ads — but one thing is sure: technology is altering audience interactions at a fundamental level. 

As Brad Berens, principal at Big Digital Idea Consulting, put it, “We’re not seeing just media fragmentation, we’re seeing media pulverization.”

That is, in a world where channels become increasingly hyper-focused and ultra-specific, and new forms of sending, receiving — and marketing — content replaces old ways of thinking about digital experiences, Berens is asking a useful question: are brands and organizations doing enough to stay ahead of the tides of change; are we working quickly enough to remain future-proof?

What if voice becomes a primary interface, for example? What stays and what goes away for advertisers and marketers? Digital assistants may reduce brands’ visual inventory and, in some ways, change consumer perceptions about brand value. The effect would be to move audience-reach and relationship-building opportunities from the brand, which has historically controlled its destiny via smart marketing spend and relevant creative, to the domain of algorithms. That’s the kind of disruption Berens is thinking about, and we should be too.

Measuring Trust Requires a Long-Game Approach

Another argument for thinking about marketing and the brand–consumer relationship in terms of future transformation came from Bob Perkins, chief operating officer at BritePool. 

In his look at measuring consumer trust and how metrics are changing due to the influence of social media and other two-way channels within the modern marketplace, the takeaway was, think long-term.

At the core of his advice, he said that when brands measure trust they must pick a tool — a metric —and stick with it. That is, trust metrics require attention to the longitudinal. It takes a consistent tool applied to audiences and relationships over time to glean meaningful data and insights. 

Perkins is correct on this point, and not only do his words ring true, but they’re also applicable beyond the realm of just measuring trust. As recent reports tell us, for example, in our rush to do just about everything in the digital marketing space, we’re asking for analyzable metrics before we even give campaigns and tactics time to develop. For metrics to mean something, they have to represent more than just a snapshot — IAB Tech Lab’s expert check-in reminds us all that the goal is to develop the big picture. Simply slowing down and letting the data develop — it is a strategy that can drive better insights and more successful next steps for marketers.

Focus on CCPA

As we all know, at midnight on December 31, 2019, the California Consumer Privacy Act kicks in, and every stakeholder in every corner of the marketing industry is on the line for the sweeping transformation to come. 

This fact was very clearly the focus for representatives of agencies and data partners at IAB Tech Lab’s event. “We have to be proactive, to provide solutions before brands ask and it’s last minute,” said Maggie Zhang, executive vice president of Video Research & Insights at Dentsu Aegis.

Right she is, and what’s more, we must take a proactive approach to the whole CCPA landscape and what it means going forward. When it comes to compliance, one federal law is what we need. It seems the case increasingly that the CCPA will be the template for that law — Microsoft announced it was going to treat it that way, this week, in fact — and so we all must pay attention to this change as much more than just a local regulatory shift.

The bottom line is, for organizations transacting with consumers in the digital space, having to comply with 50 distinct data privacy laws will only amount to a logistical nightmare in the United States, crippling efficient operational processes and causing the user experience to suffer. It would be a marketplace in which only the wealthiest players will prosper. The costs of compliance would further favor duopoly and triopoly systems, and these are the behemoth data sellers that raise our most significant data concerns in the first place. And so, Zhang is correct: being proactive is the only route to take. (For more about my stance on federal regulations, read this piece, published earlier this year at Forbes.)

The IAB Tech Lab is providing a critical resource for all players in the digital marketing space. Kudos to its organizers for another successful event, and, all of us, let’s keep talking to each other — and listening — about the evolving technological marketplace in which we’re all racing to keep up.

Julie Bernard is CMO at Verve.

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